Simon Barraclough's Easter Saturday

Easter Saturday, Hyde Park

Winter’s piggy-backing spring, squeezing ribs
with icy thighs, scoring her pale haunches
with his whistling crop. Pigeons are downed
by rat-a-tat hail, sheltering their pates
as brittle as biscuit or Eucharist host,
dazed from the air turning grapeshot and grey.

It’s at a loss, this apocryphal day:
parenthesised by murder and grace,
never knowing whether to storm or shine,
to pitch winter into The Serpentine
or let him beggar these bones to the ground
and ride the year into the knacker’s yard.

So I think I’ll sit it out with Peter Pan
and see if Sunday wakes me as lost boy or man.

*Simon Barraclough is author of Los Alamos Mon Amour (Salt 2008), Bonjour Tetris (Penned in the Margins 2010) and 'Neptune Blue' (Salt, July 2011).

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Poems from Esther Morgan and Isobel Dixon

The Gardener

This time of year again –

doing the work we must bend to or kneel,

like the man rising at evening

from the furrows he’s been digging all day,

his hands muddy with planting,

patting the earth tenderly into place

around each nameless seed.

Along the lane, the rain-washed body

of a hare, blackthorn flowering overnight.

Time to be turning in he thinks

as he gazes at a sowing of early stars

with eyes just the colour you remember.

*Esther Morgan's third collection Grace,
published by Bloodaxe, is due out in October 2011. She is an editor and
historic recordings manager for The Poetry Archive. She currently lives
in rural Norfolk where she's waiting for another new arrival – her
first baby due in June.

‘And The Hyacinth’s in Bloom – A Lovely Blue’

My mother’s sudden pride in flowers –
how our desert garden grows
now that our father’s gone,
now she has the time.

The shrouded mystery of bulbs,
veined globes of white:
the pale bulge of my father’s ankle bone,
and the startling, naked nub –
the knot and pit where once his toe had been.

Dry April soil fed slowly
with these relics, what is left of him:
long-tended, worn-out,
all their pruned-back cankers quiet now.

After the amputation, bruising, weariness,
this stony rest, his paradise,
my mother’s newfound flowers.

*Isobel Dixon
grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Cambridge, England. Her
collection A Fold in the Map is published by Salt.  Her next collection,
The Tempest Prognosticator, comes out from Salt in July 2011.

This poem is from A Fold in the Map 

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Tony Vowles' Spring

Constable becomes Banksy

The sun shines,
swans are gliding the river
which runs through,
soft, silent  and true,
and this fine spring day
could be a John Constable,
with  me, strolling in the canvas.

As I walk I smell  the freshness
of a newly painted barge,
and wave to its owner
who  sits in a recliner on the verge,
reading a book next to a tired looking  dog.

Further on,
I pass two policewomen
in crisp, white, short  sleeved shirts,
who look happy and are smiling at each other,
as if they  had just hugged or kissed,
and were in love.

*Tony Vowles is the author of and has had his poetry previously published in Dawn Treader magazine.

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Poems by Kevin Heaton and Kate Noakes

A Touch Of Redbud
Spring reconciles the hillside,
and recalls her elegance.
Bitter arms mellow, and bud
into magenta tufts snatched
from nestling in deep winter
pockets. She pardons her
branches through dazzling
celebrity crowds of dogwood,
and flowering plum; gently
stroking the strut of assumed
preeminence. A rosy-pink
supporting roll, for a gentle,
                        gracious lady.

*Kevin Heaton's work has appeared in over 80 print, and online journals. He is listed as a notable poet at:

A Touch of Redbud has appeared in: A Cherry Blossom Review, 2011 MLM The Quiet Press, 2011


Call me Angel, call me Devil.
Call me whatever you will –
For a deep religious theme
the bloody leaves of Wild Arum
make me Eve to your Adam,
Parson to your Clerk,
Quaker, silent in wood’s dark.
Call me Angel, call me Devil.
Call me whatever you will –
Hurry, hurry, Wake Robin
have him thread a new Bobbin
weave a cloth for Queens and Kings,
Ramp it well with Starch Root,
let it cloak the Naked Boys.
Call me Angel, call me Devil.
Call me whatever you will –
Fit me with a Friar’s Cowl.
If I’m a Cow then you’re a Bull
or with the Adder’s Root I’m bit,
so name me Jack in the Pulpit.
Choose now from this long name hoard.
If I’m a Lady, are you my Lord?

*Kate Noakes' most recent collection is The Walls Menders (Two Rivers Press). She blogs at

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Poems by Martin Figura and Larry Kimmel


Snow keeps falling though April’s begun.  The city
is buried while we sleep in our beds
and the council’s run out of molasses and grit.

People move through the streets like hospital patients
out for a smoke or a breath of fresh air,
the onset of chilblains cracking their skin.  

The park is bereft of hopeful spring tulips
and so are the verges and vases on sideboards.  

There’s just enough power for a couple more weeks
what then?  We’ll start to burn tables and chairs I suppose.  

A family in crampons takes the road into town
for what’s left in the shops, their faces are stung

by the wind from the lake, where anglers in pin-stripes
crouch over the ice, watching the city the other way up.

*Martin Figura's work ranges from the humour of Boring The Arse off Young People to the dark subject matter of his Ted Hughes Award shortlisted collection and show Whistle.   He won the 2010 Hamish Canham Prize.  Find out more here.

Taking Notice after a Long Dark Night
 The dew is not yet burned
 from the orchard grass—
 Crows range the open sky
 on easy wings—
 To the north,
 a chain saw pitch-shifting
 gnars a tune—
 The forsythia is yellow, the lawn,
 salt-crusted with Spring Beauties—
 A wasp dangles by—
 To the north,
 a great conifer falls, sputtering
 like firecrackers—
 I raise my coffee mug, greet
 the acrid bite—
 How clear, how crisp the air!

*Larry Kimmel is a US poet.  He holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Pittsburgh University, and has worked at everything from steel mills to libraries.  Recent books are Blue Night & the inadequacy of long-stemmed roses, and The Piercing Blue of Sirius.

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C. Albert begins Spring and Easter


I am delighted to welcome IS&T artist/poet C Albert in residence to begin our Spring and Easter feature….


In Waiting




They Met on a Telephone Line


He was common brown.
There was no trembling of heart
or wing. She simply accepted

then chose a round kitchen vent
in the second floor corner behind
a redwood’s shade.

He brought dried blade of grass,
thin twig, leaf stem,
one after another.
Metal rattled
the frantic weaver’s pace.

Together they attacked
a blue bird and stole
mouthfuls of feathers.

She finished just before
the eggs dropped
between a royal bed
and her own delicate blanket.

Flies were divided
among their open mouths.
When the nest became too small,
she waited on a branch
with bits of grasshopper.

They flew to her,
blended into bark.
She did not chirp, Stay.
Not even a Farewell!

Three figures dipped and soared,
erased by sky.


*C Albert can be contacted through



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Esther Morgan talks to IS&T about her process

Nine Questions

In this series Ink Sweat & Tears talks to practicing writers about their process and craft.

1. Where do you write? (do you have an office, room, bus or train journey that you find yourself and your writing? etc)

I do have an office but oddly I hardly ever write creatively there – it’s where the pc is and my brain associates it now with practical work. So if I have a day at home my favourite place to write is actually in bed – partly because I feel the cold but also it seems to put me in a more relaxed frame of mind than sitting at a desk. I also write on the bus journey to my day job in Norwich – many of the poems in my next collection were first dreamt up on the 588 Anglian Bus service. I try and get a seat near a window and put my ear plugs in and start scribbling – that seems to do the trick. Finally, I have high hopes of the summer house we took all summer to construct – it’s tiny, but I like the idea of a space away from the house and domestic distractions. All we need in there now is a source of heat!

2. How do you write? (into a notebook or straight onto a computer? etc)

I always write into a notebook. I need blank pages too, no lines – I like the sense of freedom that gives. My process seems to be to write a draft and then ‘talk’ to myself about it on the page – what’s working, what isn’t as I try and home in on the core of the poem. I have a tendency to try and finish things too quickly, tying everything up so it’s nice and neat. That’s why I don’t type up drafts until quite late in the day as it makes them look finished even if they’re not. When I’m not working on a draft I try and write a kind of loose journal entry – notes, observations, thoughts – just to keep my cogs oiled.

3. Roughly how much time do you spend each week on creative writing related activities?

(writing, editing, correspondence & submissions – give a daily average if possible)
On average I guess it’s about an hour and half a day, though there are phases where I don’t do much and other times when it’s a lot more. Half an hour of that would be on admin tasks – sending stuff out, responding to writing-related emails [answering questionnaires!] etc.

4. What time of day do you usually write?

My best time is in the morning, definitely. I’m not disciplined enough to rise at dawn, but on a day at home I like to get underway by 8am. The first couple of hours are crucial. Things go off the boil around lunchtime [is there any poet who writes best in the afternoon? I’ve never met one.] Then things improve again around dusk – I love being in the house on my own at that time of day. I find it conducive to mulling over ideas and the work done in the morning. I’m hopeless at night – I’d love to be one of those writers sat in a pool of light at 2am beavering away while the world sleeps – there’s something really alluring about that image, but I’ve never been able to function well late.

5. Do you set yourself a daily target for writing?

No – I suppose I try and check in to my creative process at least once a week, even if I’m really busy. It isn’t helpful to me to think in terms of output – how many poems this month etc. I’ve written at very different paces at different times and have learnt to trust that. As long as I’m making a regular space for the writing then I feel that poems will turn up eventually.

6. What does it feel like to write?

It depends what phase I’m in. The first rush of an idea and a draft can be nervily exciting – there’s the buzz as you realize you’re on to something that feels genuinely new and surprising, but, for me, also the agitation that comes with wondering whether I’ll be equal to expressing the idea, trying to pin it down on paper before it slips away. Then there’s the scratching the head, re-assessing phase – that can start off disappointing – oh, I didn’t get it right first time [why that realization still comes as a surprise I don’t know!]. But actually once it’s underway, I really like the re-drafting phase. It can be hugely absorbing and satisfying trying different approaches to make the poem come good. I’m accentuating the positive here – there are plenty of moments when writing makes me feel like a six year old who’s scribbled out the picture she’s been working on all day because it doesn’t look right.

7. Are there any stimuli that will usually trigger you into writing?

I find I need less stimuli not more. I need to be on my own and very still so I can start to listen. I don’t do formal meditation but it’s that shift into a more settled, observant state which seems to be a precursor to writing something.

8. Do you work in silence or have background noise? If you do have sounds, what are you listening to now?

Silence, definitely. Any noise is a real distraction. Hence the bus ear plugs. I love ear plugs, they should come free with your Poetry Society membership.

9. What are you working on now?

I’ve just completed quite an extensive redraft of my third collection so I’m actually lying fallow at the moment. That took a big creative push and though I’ve got a couple of ideas knocking around, my creative energies need time to recharge.

*Esther Morgan's third collection Grace, published by Bloodaxe, is due out in October 2011. She is an editor and historic recordings manager for The Poetry Archive. She currently lives in rural Norfolk where she's waiting for another new arrival – her first baby due in June.

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