January 2024

Every published poet and writer can remember the breaks they are given occasionally. I got one back in 2005 when I interviewed poet Lucy Newlyn about her poetry collection ‘Ginnel’ for a Leeds arts magazine.  We had a brilliant telephone chat where she talked about her love for the poet Edward Thomas whom I also adore. Lucy found out I was a poet and asked me to send her some of my poetry.  I sent her my collections  ‘Deadly Sensitive‘ from 1999 and ‘Coma Songs’ from 2003.

To my astonishment she contacted me a week or so later and had picked two of my poems, one from each volume, to appear in a book she was editing with Guy Cuthbertson entitled ‘Branch Lines:  Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry’. I was to be among a very august company.  Gillian Clarke, U A Fanthorpe, Andrew Motion, Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon were some of the terrific poets represented who claimed the influence of Edward Thomas in their work.

I felt very humble.

Here’s my poem, originally written twenty five years ago. I think It has a fitting seasonal feel to it.


Waking slowly, I look
through the window
at the silver sky and fields of frost,
reflections of each other,
where nothing moves,
where lines of wall and hedge converge,
and at their corners
large trees see out the final
chilly disciplines of their watch.
I carefully clasp my mug of tea
as if it holds your heartbeat,
your dreaming breath.

A dog barks on a nearby farm,
the sky becomes the faintest blue,
and cattle move stiffly
out of a frozen enchantment.
The machinery of morning is starting up,
and I stand there, considering,
to trace
your sleeping outline in the hills.

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