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Sam Smith is editor of The Journal (once 'of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry'), and publisher of Original Plus books.
He has been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator...working at anything, in fact, which paid the rent, enabled him to raise his three daughters and which didn’t get too much in the way of his writing.
Now in his 70s he is currently living in South Wales.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: 11th December 2017
‘Local colour’ is the catch-all expression used to describe eccentrics inhabiting any one area, be it country village or city quarter.
The characters herein are people, or types, Sam has known. He was tempted to say his ‘misfortune to have known,’ but then would he have been able to write of them?!
Holding onto the open door’s edge
he points his toe into his boot. She yells,
Night’s sleeplessness is a lead weight
hanging between his ears. Cotton-mist
presses down every outside sound.
A red geranium beside the down-curved step
has one round leaf cupping last evening’s rain.
She comes busily from inside
full of new-mother-importance
(she, her own self, has given life)
and, with the glow of a lover renewed,
she grips onto his arm
and pecks his cheek.
Her relaxing smile watches his slow tread
up between the creosoted dark
half-doors of the calf sheds and
the stone walls of the old barn.
At the cough-grunt of the tractor starting
In the every compromise of getting old
despising herself she knows that this dish
just the right size for her appetite & recipes
is meaningless to another life, that this
handbrush that gets into that corner
will not have the same use for its next owner
and she knows too that already she is
an absence with these things around it
In this cosseted bitter loneliness
she sees herself as an outpost of past lives
(survival not now the driving force
a temporary constancy is the desired state)
She talks to her plants like pets — green
they will not betray her weakness for affection
She treats the breathing flesh of others
as appendages to her present needs
arithmetic problems requiring solutions
result being she is left alone
One ductless gland
wedged in the cricoid cartilage
no matter what the age
gone out of control
a thyroid storm can require
and a stranger to half his past
with in addition
impaired lexical selection
just one new sentence will
have him again pop-eyed dumfounded
With neither wealth nor connections
he is bent to his bootstraps and pulling, pulling
Ambition is a self-imposed, unfelt burden
he has no need of other creeds – pulling, pulling
Points of rest are few: he knows
the price of all pleasures – pulling, pulling
A solitary obstinacy obedient only
to the dictates of intuition – pulling, pulling
A fighter bunched over his fists,
body clenched around the effort,
his long face twisted sideways
and showing the strain – pulling, pulling
Lunar clock of her body turns the tide in her womb. No child. In foxlight doublechinned Christians drive stately home. On a rubbish heap in a dark and green graveyard glows a pale crosshatching of naked flower stalks. On thin wobbly legs one old man, made stupid by anxiety, drops his doorkey and, suspecting bittersaid names, he seeks in improbable and gloomy places. In neglected sheds spiders’ legs crackle as they run across corner webs. Earthworms too respond to changes in humidity, barometric pressure and the phases of the moon.
The Henbane Eater
wide-eyed on atropine
the reds and greens of solar winds
colour imposed on form
blow down the neural pathways
snow-sheen shining the light back up
and way beyond
the star-pricked sea
along the flat horizon
a wall of blue-iceberg cloud
a pub lull
nothing much happening
a held moment
he finds himself studying
the damp-circled table top
then the narrow declivity
in an old man’s nape
and of a sudden
coming close to panic
he wants to be sober
to have a head clear enough
to hold two thoughts together
tries to think
what that might be like
and watches a hand
belonging to his arm
reach out towards
an almost empty glass