‘Truth’ for National Poetry Day: Sharon Phillips, David Van-Cauter, Terry Quinn




Something’s wrong

This is how it will start:
from the other side of a room
you’ll hear your mum talk, loud
but so fast you won’t be able

to follow and she will see
you’re looking so she’ll come
over and pull you aside.

Listen to me, she will say,
I’ve got something to tell you,
and you will think of cancer—
breast, perhaps, or womb—

but her eyes will be wide open,
and her teeth will shine with spit
and she’ll pant a little laugh

before she tells you that she is
the Holy Ghost and you will
stare at the flakes of mascara
beneath her lashes before you

turn your back. Years later
you will feel her strong fingers
clutching at your bicep.



Sharon Phillips started learning to write poems a few years ago, after she retired from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print, and have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2017), the Indigo Firsts pamphlet competition (2018) and the WoLF Poetry Competition (2019). Sharon won the Borderlines Poetry Competition in 2017 and was among the winners of the Poetry Society Members’ Competition in November 2018. She lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.





My mother has stuck meerkats to her bins.
I ask her why.
She says because the butterflies have peeled off.
That makes sense, I reply.

In town, she tells me how spectacular
the markets used to be:
the space
the open air
An elbow hits my back.
A man yells in my face.

At the house, there are jobs
involving reaching things, and bulbs.
Working through each chore,
I mark it off, implore her
to remove the stains
the house is burdened with, the pain
of loss that clings to every dusty book
and stands upright, expectantly, to look.

As I leave, the nervous tom
scurries away from my touch.
I try hard not to read too much
into that –
after all, it’s just a cat.



David Van-Cauter’s  pamphlet Mirror Lake was published in 2019 by Arenig Press. He was runner-up in the Ver Prize 2019.




Getting the Point

It’s getting to the point
of a small rearrangement
in how things were.
Not exactly a lie,
I did have a girlfriend,
she was called Eileen,
and she did, does, live in Hammersmith.
But she didn’t,
as far as I know,
drive a Ferrari
into the lake at Kew Gardens
after an argument
about a duel I’d fought
with Simon Armitage
about her honour
or the placing of a comma
in the Dead Sea Poems.
One or the other,
it doesn’t matter.
The point is that these days
you need an edge,
a little something
that’s hard to find
in another poem
about finding your Father’s pipe
or a lost letter from a lost love
about snow falling on Blackburn
or a night spent talking
about that Al Gore film.



Terry Quinn worked in Medical Engineering.  The Amen of Knowledge won the Geoff Steven’s Memorial Prize. He has a collection with Julie Maclean To Have to Follow from Indigo Pamphlets.

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