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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems by Jane Burn

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Jane Burn’s poems have featured in many magazines and anthologies, from The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry, And Other Poems, The Black Light Engine Room and many more, as well as anthologies from the Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Poetry Box, Emergency Poet and Kind of a Hurricane Press.Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by the BLER Press. Her first full collection, nothing more to it than bubbles, has been published by Indigo Dreams. She also established the poetry site The Fat Damsel. She was longlisted in the 2014 & 2016 National Poetry Competition, was commended and highly commended in the Yorkmix 2014 & 2015, won the inaugural Northern Writes Poetry Competition in 2017 and came second in the 2017 Welsh International Poetry Competition.

 

 

 

 

The Clever Colours of Glass

 

Clear as water, so it appears – take a further look
at the flattened world living upon its pane and be
mystified. See that it holds a garden – look

at the lawn, greening its rectangle eye, look
at the infinite sky of blues and cloudy whites. Look
at the ore of lemon sun, worn on its sheer

in a pill of flame – blink away the dot of pain seared
onto retina cells. Look at the ghosted flowers,
the spectre of trees scratching the surface, yet making

no sound. Look to the near, for the sill of ornaments,
pricked with distorted light. Look at your seconded self –
the tipsy angle of your head, your clothes worn

in a transparency of red. You and the figurines, trapped
like the victims of a snow queen’s spite – reach
for your hand to pull yourself out. Touch the ice

of a berg. Wait for a bird to bash itself, leave the outline
of a greasy angel, grey and sad on the glass. Think of this
cuboid as heaven – of how things might be, after death.

 

 

 

How the Sun Brings Out

 

A streak of hot elevenses bright has beckoned
next door’s Steve from his sanctum, seeded his mind
with barbecue aspirations. His clipped, thinning
fuzz remains in denial beneath the crumpled cloche

of a battered fisherman’s hat as he toasts the Gods
that brung this clement, birdy day with his bubbling cup,
crinkles and nods, slurps and sighs, squats at the knee.
I ought to pipe up, let my presence be known

but I am enjoying my bit of being a nosey parker,
sticky-beak watching the bliss of his squint-eyed worship.
Back off the rigs, he has spent the last two weeks at sea –
I love his revel in solid earth, this green-plugged finding

of land legs again. I know he hates to go but needs must
and bills don’t pay themselves. These moments
of knowing peace, of planted self, of seeing happiness
from nothing but someone’s face in the sun, of seeing

a smile open like petals from a sweet pea’s wrinkled bud
are treasures. To make him look, I drop my broom –
over the honeysuckled fence comes half his head
in radiance, half his head in gloom. He has plants

to offer, ready for re-potting. Cucumber – soon
the swelling of gourds, swung from finger-thick stems,
bottle green, bumped with papules that catch the light.
Tomatoes – summer will boil them bloodshot.

Steve is going to mow and crop, pluck and clip –
everything will grind its wheels of growth, search
for synthesis with the sky. To know such dazzle
is to have already stood in shade – to recognise

the value of both. The length of day is marked
by the travel of shadows. I am waiting for glory
to be shawled by dimmet’s soft grey cast –
for brilliance to become the quieted wonder of dusk.

 

 

She Gifts me a Moment

 

A doe is nimbling the skyline, dressing February’s mud
with leaf-weight, ungulate cleaves. Threads of leg and pale,
wintered grass complect as she marks her silent way

to the wood. Buzzards turn in ophanims above – their citadel
is lidless. The leaves, the land, the wind – their music rings
in polyphonies as they send their mingled voices up. I believe

I can hear them sing – I hearty wish for a bird’s sweet lungs
that I might add my aspen voice to the gloriful throng.
A man with a dog is walking close by – points to the deer’s

progressing silhouette, smiles and bids me look. I return his joy
at the sight but fast move on – I don’t want to clutter my thoughts
with awkward conversation, not when I want to see

where she is taking herself. I step on a half-buried can –
its audible clack, sudden as shot, breaks the silence. She will not
be hunted, save by my eyes but even so, she hears, halts,

scents the air for threat. Packets litter like fade-gaudy, torn foil
leaves. I’m sorry, I tell her. Sorry for man and his plastic mind.
The rust-dead bracken parts to let her dainty in. Five yards further

into the trees, she pauses, to gift me a moment inside her arcane eyes.
She knows where owls will spit their pellet nests, where badgers go
to ground – will find sanctuary in the un-walked secret heart.

She tries to tell me my clumsy bulk will not work in her world –
that the night’s chill would be my end, that my instincts are dull.
I am not made to live upon her knife’s edge. She leaves me

same as she found me – she is taking nothing inside but her breath,
body, bone and skin. She will not pity me, for beasts don’t know
our kinds of burden. She will find the pathways I won’t.

 

 

I have got to stop driving about like this –

basket case, arriving everywhere with the red-eye,
wiping my conk on a dangling cuff – this time,
it was thinking of you that did it. Until I can put a door
between me and this world, I am a harbinger.
Every day, a discovery of new griefs.

Will there ever be a day when I am not thinking
what is tomorrow, what is tomorrow, what will tomorrow be?
You would tell me, that day, my dear – that day does not exist.
You thought the sun shone out my arse – without you,
I am un-moored. I cried because someone’s moggy lay

at the side of the motorway, looked as if it was sleeping.
Husband next to me says it’s just a cat, shit happens.
I cried when I saw kites lifting from fresh ploughed furrows –
when I saw a chilled hare, flicking snow from its paw.
In your last week, you grew so small, as if you had already gone.

She can hear you, the nurse said – I reminded you of the time
you sewed those petals on a tablecloth in orange, not pink
and went mad, cussing. I whispered into the twirly cave
of your ear. I love you. Your body curled like a clef
beneath the blankets. I think there was a hop in your heart.

I think you heard me. Before the end, coffees you made
were filmed with tiny circlets of fatty scum, the odd hair
floating on puckered milk. When you could not get up
I made my own – the cups were cleaner, though I
was sadder for it. We filled imaginary castles with fancy things –

fringed cushions, porcelain thin as breath – plump sofas.
A chandelier, casting the shadow of an octopus on the wall.
I cry when I hear the sad oboe of air, reeding the windows
at night. You would have told me to check the latch.
Told me to close the curtains on the draught.

 

 

Anniversary……………..Forgot

 

I remember when he still cycled –
had carved calves……..brown thighs………Under
those shorts – I never got used to such
a clearly described scrotum.

………………………………….We have drooped.
I remember when he and I were two stone lighter.
Age has beckoned our bits
……………………………………………………………………….down. I used to look

you used to look so carefree

We have said what we wish we had not.
Life……… It……………. chips………..away at you. You find
yourself changed. Him and me, you couldn’t have slid
a feather between us, close as a bird’s breast
hiding an egg,………….. we were.

We have both been
………………………………………………………………………….cruel. Yet
sometimes there is tenderness still. We
are suspicious of everything. We both
ride roughshod, ……………..we know what it is
to fight………. Fifteen years ago……… I told him
about my un-solvable things and
he still wanted me……………. Strength for two,
he promised.

……………………..Strength is a brick wall and I
have run into it headlong………… I am the only one
who has seen him
…………………………………………………………………..cry……………. but
it has cost much to coax.
When we were at our………… worst, he said
……………………….sometimes I wish we had
……………………………………………………………………………never
………………………………………………………………………..got married
I have tried to un-hear it. I have failed.

I say
Iloveyouloveyouloveyou …………..much too much. I scuttle
and faff as I think a wife or mother should………….. I know
I am cloying – they make moves to shuck me off……… like
a spoon levering a boiled egg from its shell, a spatula
loosening crust.

From the road………. I saw this plot
of skinny pines. One of the trees had uprooted,
……………………………………………………………………leaned itself
into the head of another as if to say……… somebody…….. catch
I wanted wrap myself round its dying thread.

Sometimes all ……..the affection has ………gone
…………………………………………………………………………………………………from my head.

 

 

 

 

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