David Calcutt




I Praise the Spider


At the web’s dead centre, a thumbprint
smudge in your secret heaven

tucked beneath an overhang of leaves
and hung about with jewels and corpses

baby-faced mummies, the empty
sacks of your children, trembling

as if with a god’s touch or curse
your fingers stroke the silks of your harp

sun-laced and lit like a bride’s crown
sending your music into the morning

dawn’s plainsong
the victim’s lament.


Almost invisible song, exquisite
intricacies traced on the air
flung out, and hooked to the lips

of the infinite. Low slung
between the fence post and the
garden shed, it seems to be holding

earth and sky in balance
a net to catch whatever
falls in, whether food-stuff

or breakage, or the flecks
of ash from autumn fires.
Like a hand, loosely cupped

around its fragile lifelines,
hoarding its meagre provisions
against the lean times.


I’ve been watching you
for so long, you have
my eye transfixed
and no matter how much

I wanted to I couldn’t
move away now.  Numb
from the feet up
as if injected

with your drug
swaddled in a cocoon
of rapt fascination.
I’m watching you eat

and have to go on
watching, unable to stir
a finger or thought
gripped, like your prey

between your busy hands.
Face locked forward
eyelids glued open
pupil pulsing with

the beat of sucked blood.
Later, I’ll sit almost
lifeless at the table
watching my own hands

flutter around the cutlery
while my mouth
goes on chewing
at tough meat.



lurker in the garden shed
prisoner in the empty bath


first at the wedding feast
layer-out of grave shrouds

dingledody –

out here in the garden
rain and shine
you’re in your element

at home
in your spun geometry
of air and light

inheritance perfected
into instinct


Little revenant
little suicide survivor
who would have thought
you could make it back
from such a big freeze
such a battering of storms
such withering of roots?

Yet here you are
on the first untroubled
day of the year, as if
you had never been away
hanging by a narrow thread
at home among the
quiet voices

the trembling, sky-tumbled
tears of dew.



David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and fiction writer. Many of his original plays and adaptations have been broadcast on BBC radio, and his plays for theatre have been performed in both professional and community settings. Several of his plays for young people are published by Oxford University Press, as are three of his four novels for young people. His poetry appears widely in print and online magazines, and he is the author of four poetry collections. Drawing on his many years’ experience as a writer, and the breadth and diversity of his writing, David has organised and worked on several small and large scale community writing and theatre projects, and continues to run a variety of writing workshops in community settings. More here: https://davidcalcutt.com/

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