Sarah Passingham




The Machinist
(Put Something of Yourself into Your Work)

The hum and buzz of faster machines buoy her.
Decides brightness should be her default.
She unwraps a blood-red cuff from her wrist,
smoothes it onto the metal bed of her Jones Imperial.
Next, she reaches into the whiteness of her throat,
withdraws a vocal cord. A faint twang like an E string
causes her neighbour to incline her head.
She threads her needle with ease—a muscle memory
from decades—places heel and toe, fore and aft,
sets up the machinist’s rock.
Steel foot lowered, she feels the comfort of pain,
lets out a sigh as she begins to stitch.



Sarah Passingham started to write poetry to improve her prose, then found she couldn’t stop. Her latest book PUSH My Father, Polio, and Me is a family memoir published by Gatehouse Press

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Sarah Passingham





Then take one end to draw it close
around my shoulders. Let it flow
like a mountain burn about my neck but
leave at least an inch below my lips
where speech denies the thistle.
They say the best pulls through a wedding band,
but this is plaid.

Bunch it, grow it kraken-like, pleated,
tartened into that twilled, hidden part of me,
made from heather and peat-smoked whisky,
oatmeal and sheep. Fasten it with a silver clan pin.
Bellow my name Fortune like a red stag in rut,
dancing on a Cap of Maintenance.

Throw Campbell and Douglas battles around
my shoulders. Let them fold against the weather,
storm-proofed and heavy as the granite hills. Show me
skirling in the wind, sloughing off brine-hurled surf
against the island cliffs. Show me wild.




Sarah Passingham has published three books of non-fiction and a libretto. Her collection, Hoad and Other Stories was published in 2014. She began writing poetry to improve her prose, then found she couldn’t stop. Twitter: @Sarahsarie

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Vote! Vote! Vote! For your February 2020 Pick of the Month

The only thing that unites our shortlist for February 2020’s shortlist for Pick of the Month is how fine these poems are. There are sweet memories (Attracta Fahy‘s Dinner in the Fields) and less warm experiences – ‘Some things never change’ from Maurice Devitt. Chris Fewings’ ‘Cure’ makes us smile while Sarah Passingham‘s ‘The Machinist’ makes us shiver. There is cynicism in ‘The Art of Collaboration’ from Kevin Higgins and (a qualified) acceptance in Hannah Hodgson‘s ‘Death Rattle’.

All six of the shortlist have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your February 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. February’s Pick will be announced on Wednesday 18th March.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative.

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