Poetry by Chaucer Cameron

STILL LIFE

>

I am sorry, sweetheart, I could not protect you, but the wildlife will still

call: badger, fox, mouse, frog, slowworm, robin, they will guard

their territory

&

this space, despite the rain, will trap sun, a swing-seat near the wall

can catch the heat, dawn will hear the goldfinch sing, damsons falling

softly one by one

&

spiders, small creatures, all their scurries leave no footprints, trail

of feathers, hair or even bone, this square of place, secluded, a surprise,

good order out of concrete

&

I’m sorry, sweetheart, that you were left wounded, that the night

was high-wind-un-lit, despite the gold-tailed orbs, their tinge of blue

that mesmerized but left no message – none that one could understand

&

further down the night, a carcass of life in badger form, or maybe fox,

a spade stuck in the ground by thieves who tricked earthworms into

splitting in two halves.

>

>

IMAGINE THAT

    • with lines from Mario Petrucci

      >

The future is on every road and every road a cul de sac, in every cul de sac,

a box, in every box, a canvas bag, in every canvas bag, thirty-two army troopers,

dressed in plastic, painted green, little hands hold little rifles, one small man

down on his knees. Warning! Small parts! Choking hazards! please retain

this information.

>

Please retain these choking hazards, place them neatly over there. This side of the

fence/ is clean. That side/ dirty. Understand?/ That side/ you must wear a mask/…

this side/ you can breathe/ freely… This side you have cows and chickens, they

can eat the grass and grain, you can have your longed-for children. Imagine that!

They will grow to be small soldiers; plastic-coated, painted green, little hands hold

little rifles, one small man, down on his knees. 

    • with kind permission, from Mario Petrucci’s Fence in Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl

      >

DO NOT GO DOWN TO THE RIVER

>

I remember the kick. Rifle butt against young bone.

Lightweight – steel – ergonomic, anti-shock design.

Hard rubber, non-slippage, high velocity. Adjustable

trigger, for eight-year-old fingers. Bird. Aim. Fire.

                                       II

Do not go down to the river.

So I wait till washday, leave Mum with a mangle,

take up rusted pushbike, astride it, astraddle,

the saddle pushed high, up in the crotch line.

With heels on the pedals, I pass

hunched-around houses with stone-broken windows,

turn swift into lanes all lined with sting,

fast over scrap land, footbridge and drainage

skid past the paths with the signs saying stop

where grit flick flies through rotten, rotten Roding.

                                       III

His coat is tweed; his boots have brown laces,

his trousers tucked into grey socks

and his braces hang in skipping rope loops.

His arms are all drawings, stories and tales

a patchwork of veins, hair, reptiles and nails

sunk into skin, etched deep into pores.

He wears a flat cap – just like my dad.

>

LEFT TO HANG

>

Then I hear a dog-fox call.

It could’ve been a deer or canine bitch

a distant screech of feral-feline hitched

by skin and claw.

<

Hung up this way

the land is turned and high above

a felled-again stygian sky–starless

>

I this landscape am, wild as ancient

woodland, savagely untameable

dog-rose tagged and bordered by a brook

wide as any river, vast as all the seas.

>

Hear me, for I am feral-feline, deer

and canine bitch, a distant screech

of, left to hang, will come unhitched.

Poetry by Chaucer Cameron

Chaucer Cameron’s poetry has been published in, journals and online including The North, The Interpreter’s House, Atticus Review.  Her poetry-films have screened at festivals and universities. Her latest work Wild Whispers, poetry-film collaboration, recommended for the Ted Hughes Award 2019. Chaucer is co-editor of Poetry Film Live

About the contributor

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