Saturday 7 May 2022

Five Poems by Paul Brookes


A Crow Holds A


key to a butterfly's wings, a dark tree

blossoms a lightning strike in its beak.

Use stealth and cunning to capture the key,

Turn it in the butterfly lock to break


into the oak rich leafed with half a crown.

Crow found key in city's bombed out ruins.

Key to a door bomb blown in/out and down

of life before war, and new beginnings.


Soon fresh spores will find good soil

beneath, inside and on the new wreckage.

Growth for caterpillars to despoil

and make their own transformation cage.


An acorn is a cage for transformation.

Out of rubble a new destination.



War Is A Child


on a cross where nails have been hammered through

into young skin. Below this statue Christ

cross legged, focuses on his hands, back to

the suffering child carved in white stone sliced


on its side by a spear of war. Christ sits

in the manicured grass, watches insects

crawl over his palms, makes daisy chains fits

them over his head. Two females inspect


the young one on the cross. All three are freeze

frame, tableau. And now Jesus is captured,

caught on camera, a still life. Believe

you see a child on the grass enraptured.


A photo never lies, only meaning,

an interpretation may be misleading.


War's Plastic Spade


left stood on the beach in the rush to go.

Beside the moat dug around the castle,

eroded by weapons of gust, rain, snow.

A home is a temporary vessel.


Unless you are your hearth home. Traveller.

Sometimes it is not your choice to move on.

Sometimes the tide comes in, unraveller

of all your belonging, time to be gone.


Home is your fireside hearth that burns even,

when your outside homes flames are put out, snuffed.

Fire is a grief a child's loss of a friend,

that plastic spade, that castle engulfed.


Go, move, shift says the stern voice of war, waves,

day's end pack up and leave others their graves.




seeds burst from the barrels of flowerheads.

There was traffic here once. Listen. Listen.

Ghosts. Bustling, raucous silence elbows treads

invisible in wounded streets, broken.


The seeds strike, make hollows of busy homes.

Absences are in full bloom, vibrant glades.

Stroll between rainbow bloomed borders of bones.

Inhale aromatic fragrant dead shades.


This city a garden of the fresh gone.

Snipers make spaces for new shoots to grow.

Refugees tell the way it carried on.

Their stories keep their children in the know.


They rename their city atrocity.

Actual help ls needed, not pity.


I Sup Fathoms


of poppies from a hotel tea cup roll

away the stones from the graves, find clothes

they were buried in. Drink the whole

flowers to ease the loss and recompose


what is lost. Reach for the stars, her upbeat

song played at her funeral, takes me back

to her cremation, her ashes in heat

tea leaves so I sup her brew bring her back.


Asbestos thread cough killed my dad. Ashes

I must broadcast over Lake District tracks.

Cancer took mam, old age nan, all mashes

tea leaves so I sup their brew bring them back.


Grief is a conflict over flight or fight.

Can't resurrect not dead with drugged delight.



Paul Brookes is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. First play performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews, book reviews and challenges. Had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb and, videos of his Self Isolation sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions. Most recent is a poetry collaboration with artworker Jane Cornwell: "Wonderland in Alice, plus other ways of seeing", (JCStudio Press, 2021)


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