William Bedford

Writing Lessons

The new chalk’s like a violin on wet slate,
rhyming white lessons in a tall room
where sunshine’s never touched the walls.
Here generations come and go like moths,

fidgeting to find the flame that burns,
gambling odd pennies at pitch-and-toss.
‘Horses won’t set you free,’ the teacher intones.
‘Only work does that.’ His hand’s red-knuckled

with caning truth into boys already dead.
You dream a space between chalk and slate
where words can catch the sun and purple moors.
Outside, the furnace clamour waits,

the industrial grime of slack and smog
where writing lessons never change the clouds,
untouched by dancing choirs of angel dust.

 

 

William Bedford is a poet, short-story writer and children’s novelist, his work appearing in magazines around the world. His novel Happiland was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and he has received Arts Council and Society of Authors awards for his poetry and fiction.

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