By Stephen Kingsnorth


The rising shave of chiselled wood,
the great wave off Kanagawa,
the calligraphic curve of grace,
or ringlet hair around the ear.

The sabre swipe of crescent moon,
the dancing turn of treble clef,
the cosmic turn gyrating spheres,
or circling cornet ice-cream filled.

Plantagenet pods' twisting spring,
turning water past down the plug,
flake chocolate curls on top of cake,
or ginger snap for birthday treat.

The Christmas cracker novelty,
fish passion test on palm of hand;
strangest swerve, unexpected roll
of ball approaching hole on green.

Botanic swirl and ballet twirl,
beach seashell whorl or words unfurl,
but none compare to fragile grasp
my digit round by finger curl.

Flesh knuckle dusting, body heat,
make trust, security, risk sleep;
as slumber numbs, relaxes hand,
tot's need to know that I am here

Still, Here, Withdrawn

I’m here, just now, dispirited.
The pile-up of the day too much.
I feel as fifty, more, ago,
when I crashed Dad’s first-ever car.

Two contacts make us isolate.
Grandchildren’s Mum, a scan result,
yet dare not grasp the consequence.
And now, this language of my soul -
distraction when the load too full -
our conversations beyond reach, 
fourth day, media, deactivate
as forenames, ‘false identity’.

Unknown rule break, self-banishment
from poet group where spirit spoke -
though best for fear of floodgate friends,
should I permit full register.
In vain the vine enveloped me,
now grapes of wrath from mellow fruit,
that comfort zone of mind and heart.
The prospect, monologue with self,
a selfie of another sort.

It’s for excluded, there’s the rub,
and while that rankles, petty-fog,
unless those nearer change the terms 
there’s little but soliloquy,
I’ll run this page till sleep effects,
as counsellor keeps open line.
I’m here, just now, dispirited.
Still, here, withdrawn.

Translation 1

The dictionary listed words
tell me less than I need to know.
Unphased  at school, idiomatic phrase,
these home-grown veg not packaged well,
escape most columns, page defined - 
old fruit sounds rotten apple ground.

The blotchy skin, red mottled face,
a bottled issue corked within - 
as costume, masque gear, facial wear,
a lifted crease, full-breasted tears,
carmine claws above the soles
translate into a concert score.

Haven for the circus clown,
false dressing wig to bulbous shoe - 
the least fool tells us, not insides - 
though zigzag walk, high wire artiste
is laughable or catch net haul, 
lion-tamer, body whole, not so.

My manners, frame, my open eyes,
pupils teach their peers to see
what inner mind links lever out;
related tales from story boards, 
words associated suggest trail,
with mindful test, perambulate.

Translation 2

In sheets, by shade, 
the vigil stare dares hold lid-wide, 
no interfere, suspended air;
the ear, past listen, directed dish, 
pin-point by bearing, compass hush.

How speaks this language of the lungs?
Plumped, the pillow exhaled long ago,
four corners blunt, obtuse degrees,
as bedded talk through married years. 
This buffer zone, a cushioned time,
design gone, the pretty face,
a squaring up, needlework,
the intervene, distracting voice,
unspoken words creating space,
hopes now passed, a wait
while throes lose their will to go.

After-death-gasps stray, lost, delayed,
in mist the grasp of phrase, 
clock fast, needs missed.
This hang in time - hyphenate, 
holding gap, stock-still the stump, 
then sudden heave, a swallow shared,
slight bridge span, two lands apart.

Translation 3

To make a stand while take the knee,
my mind speaks one, as frame translates,
and bending states defiant act.

Crushed apple juice is Adam’s ail,
where neck is bridge for carotid,
less steaming pulse is dammed ahead.

That is how glory shines from skull,
as Mamma Mia fading words,
and desolation overheard.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church with Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, most recently Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Parliament Literary Magazine, Poetry Potion, Grand Little Things, The Poet Magazine.                

6 thoughts on “Curl and Other Poems

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