Last week saw the launch of my new poetry pamphlet A Suggestion of Bones. It mainly comprises of individual poems published in small press magazines, anthologies or online and the over-riding theme is of things hidden, not being what they seem or lurking just beneath the surface.
The title comes from the last line of one of the poems At Birdoswald, a ruined Roman fort three miles from where I used to live in Gilsland, Northumberland, which is a village on the Roman Wall that stretches from Wallsend in Tyne and Wear across Northumberland and ends at the other side of the country in Carlisle in Cumbria. When I lived there I used to walk a great deal in the surrounding countryside with its spectacular views, craggy hills, deep valleys where clear ice-cold water gurgled and splashed, and Roman ruins hunkered down in the grass. At those times, I used to imagine what it would be like being an Italian soldier banished to these outposts in Britain, living in inhospitable weather and keeping the marauding hordes of Picts and Scots at bay.
A few years later I went back to visit my old stopming grounds. I needed to touch something familiar in my soul, to resolve some of my indecisions, and this poem came out of the visit.
There’s iron on the wind.
Sunset gasps from the horizon,
dusk circles like a cloak of feathers,
light flees the amassing darkness
and each breath hangs
like a ghostly membrane
promising a night of stars and stories.
After days of disquiet
I feel surrounded by tinder, fear
the burst of a match on shavings
of my soul and embers fanned
by the darkling wind. But here,
amongst the squatting ruins,
my crowded mind stills its chatter,
descends deeper into the landscape,
transcends time. I feel the scratch
of memory, smell the woodsmoke
of regret, touch the bruise of fear caught
between cracks of then and now,
hidden in the hillocks around me
like the suggestion of bones beneath skin.
A Suggestion of Bones is available from Amazon ttps://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=a+suggestion+of+bones&sprefix=A+suggestion+%2Caps%2C268&crid=2CW