William Coniston – Three poems


I was privileged to dine at high table in a Cambridge College, with the Fellows, men, and women cloistered at the cutting edge of research, who talked about families and politics and other ordinary things but also fermions and bosons, quarks and leptons, hadrons, protons, and mesons. Little things flying around with space between them that they know everything’s made of. ‘Just a minute,’ I said, and I tried to use words they’d understand, ‘you mean daffodils on the backs, weeping willows by the river, undergraduates lying on the grass in summer, college buildings themselves, all made of particles, with space between them?’ ‘The whole lot,’ they replied while ingesting particles of roast venison and claret. It made me think. With that space between particles, when I touch a snowdrop nodding in the breeze, why doesn’t my finger go straight through it? In fact, why doesn’t the breeze go straight through me? Or when a cat leans against my ankles, rubbing, why doesn’t it fall over sideways, or when someone jumps on a horse why don’t they end up on the ground between the front and back legs, or sink straight through the planet and out the other side? Or when you and I entwine why don’t our bodies merge into one, although come to think of it they pretty much do. So I asked a Professor and she said there’s a force that holds things together.

Sometimes at night as I fall asleep it feels like things aren’t holding together and I’m falling, so maybe the force is weaker then. When I wake, I reach out to make sure your particles haven’t slipped through the spaces.




were thigh deep

up Bilberry Bank

today. Yesterday

I ground

the few there were

under my trainers.

They pull you

down. Some say

they don’t exist,

others that they

come in waves.

My observations

prove they do,

and they do.




A thrush song

pauses my mind,

sends it into a loop

of play and stop,

unable to describe

or define the beauty.

Heart says don’t try,

save it to memory,

copy and paste

into the throat,

so after, when I speak,

people will be enchanted,

turn their heads,

beckon others to share,

listen attentively

to the cadence of arguments,

nod wisely at the counterpoint,

accept the tonality,

applaud a crescendo of conclusions

and spread the refrain of harmony

from person to person

around the world

at a reproductive rate

well into the teens,

until the colours of the sky

dance to the music of love.

About the contributor

William Coniston has been writing all his life but mainly boring legal documents. Since 2016 he has written and published three scary novels for 8-13s which he found much more fun. He also writes poetry and likes connecting it with science and technology. He lives in West Yorkshire.

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