1 Poem by John Bartlett



At the Fotheringhay Falcon Inn

we order ploughman’s lunch,

bread, cheese, pickles

hard-boiled eggs and ale,

unchanged over all these years

At the castle site where

Mary Queen of Scots, in black,

her stockings edged in silver

with green silk gaiters and

petticoats of velvet crimson,

clumsily was beheaded

and later James, her son, in rage

tore down these walls, no stone

remained, this motte alone,

this mound of earth and junk,

its view towards the church

‘floating on the hill

above the River Nene, a

galleon of Perpendicular on

a sea of corn’

On the long path to

Mary and the Saints, poplars

wait for us like sentinels, where

a soprano voice serenades the Autumn air

and a boy of five or six appears,

crying out ‘that’s my mummy’ and

so we stay of course to hear this Grace

 sing, hand resting on her boy’s small head,

this motet, Nulla in Mundo,

– in this world, no honest peace

is free from bitterness, this voice

that lifts and carries us

Later in the village hall

over tea and homemade

double sponge, I do recall

my father and his wallet, with

the photo of his widowed mum,

kept until the end

      – sons and their mothers

About the contributor

John Bartlett
John Bartlett publishes fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and is the winner of the 2020 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize. He has published two poetry chapbooks and his full collection Awake at 3am was just published by Ginninderra Press (2020). He lives in southern Australia.

Related Articles

Les Wicks Poetry

Les Wick's 14th book of poetry is 'Belief' (Flying Islands, 2019).

Abduction, a poem by Angela Costi

Angela Costi has published four collections of poetry including Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007) and Lost in Mid-Verse (Owl Publishing, 2014). 

2 poems by Lincoln Jaques

Poet and author Lincoln Jaques is from Auckland.

More Like This

Featured Poet, Anne Casey

AFTER MAKING LOVE WITH THE LIGHTS ON, DOORS WIDE OPEN resting my head on your shoulder when you said there is no...

2 poems by Jilly O’Brien

Jilly O’Brien was finalist in the Monica Taylor International Poetry Competition, and highly commended in the Charles Causley International Poetry Competition (2020).

2 Poems by Tony Steven Williams

Tony Steven Williams debut poetry collection, 'Sun and Moon, Light and Dark', was published by Ginninderra Press (2018)

Fotoula Reynolds

The Sunday visits  Pretty dress on Hair tied up with Daisy pins in Leather shoes Polished and  She is ready Ready as a...

Poetry by Ellen Shelley

Poet Ellen Shelley was highly Commended for the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award.