3 poems by Phil Barnett


without tv or news or clocks

time is measured in white horses

in the field below

the morning brings a new alignment

they are enacting all the prepositions 

in front of, behind, next to

and some that only horses know

the stations of the horse

two entangled particles play out

a stately ballet on the clockface field

clouds attracted by a strong force

and repelled by a weak one

cumulusly billowing, melding, reforming

waves from two distant shores 

breaking, each, one upon the other

on the next day, they do adverbs of time

before, after, a long time ago

a very very long time ago

and on the last day 

they’re performing verbs

galloping, slowing, resting, lying down

leaving the house for the last time

I turn tail, to see a waft of white smoke

that turns into a tail, then two of them

twirling, tick-tocking the seconds

or is it the years


I rounded the crest

skirting the top

sitting windward on a slope

I made a cairn of myself

and that’s where I was

I picked a way through brambles

deerstepping over thorns

legs souvenired in blood

I stopped

and found myself there

through the spring-frothed wood

green, so green it’s yellow

ivy scaffold on hornbeam

beech and brother beech

I was there

so that’s where I was


the mist came down last night, came in softness

between here and Winter Hill, a drowned world

just spires and treetops jutting out above;

archipelago in Pacific fog

grey but lustrous – has eroded edges

all the gaps are filled with mother of pearl

the middle-willow distance gone over, 

lightly stippled with a softening brush

so watercolours run, bleeding into

tump-grassy nearby and all that’s behind

words are becoming detached, corner first

shaking free, the children are leaving home

what used to be a branch is shedding nouns

twig, leaf, acorn, and bark have now all gone 

borders dissolved and separation smudged

all of it replaced with a sea of this

the sun comes at last, pooling rosy mist

white whips tilt and float up, slow and stately 

a flock of birds drops down, reattaching 

returning back to things, the birds are words

About the contributor

Phil Barnett has had a lifelong passion for the natural world. In particular for the area of countryside outside his front door in South Lancashire – ‘The Patch.’ He expresses this through music, painting, photography, and more recently writing prose and poetry. https://www.microcosmic.info/

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