Thursday 13 October 2022

Three Poems by Laurence Levy-Atkinson


Say the roses


It starts in fields under rain,

It starts in nights under spotlights

Where hands in gloves pull out the heart

To replace the one I don’t know how to interpret

Or speak out of.


The rose hips barely grown out of seed

But forced to find words

Their petal lips weren’t raised to find;

Hundreds of millions sold each year,

Numbers that your mind can’t comprehend.


The prettiest picked first off vines

And the bareness tells us how much we love each other

While the vines stay behind,

In greenness and fading life

And the thorns tell another story entirely.


But that’s one we don’t need to hear.

Say the roses talked to you and I,

Sang songs from a country we’d never seen.

Say they had any words for the ones we’ve been missing,

Or held onto those little hearts we take out for show.



We can’t escape witches


In autumn I find fairy circles

And burnt offerings in the parks

Beside the city, knots of string


Balled for kiss and curse alike.

Not that I’ve ever seen the culprits,

The council lamps are too low


To spot them amongst the couples

On picnics, the dog walkers,

The tired office workers cutting


A path home. It’s the kind of anachronism

We never get tired of; the best pieces

Of our relic past we keep


Dragging with us through the years.

No generation would be complete

Without our witches,


Their spells and hymns for better days

The perfect fit for revolution

Or to heal us when we can’t admit


We need it the most. Something I suspect

The council knows already, the lamps

That hide them are too dim to be chance.


Preparing the Soil


I used to recoil from the sound of insects alone;

Didn’t even need to see them

Before the hum of flies or the creaking of beetles

Caught me shivering and ducking for cover.


Which of course, is no way to prepare yourself.

So I started training to stay outdoors longer,

Dreaming in grass so long it would leave

Fairy circles of my own determination.


I let cicadas winter in my hair

And hatch in the spring,

Whole swarms deserting me for better climates.

Not that I could ever blame them.


I learned to slow my heartbeat

So moss and lichen would feel more at home.

They rounded me like the sea

And warmed me when the nights were harshest.


How many years it will take I can’t say

Because I’m not quite there yet.

The rain can pool happily at my collarbones,

Although I still can’t stand the brush and hook of tadpoles.


Nor can I handle the worms and deepest soil

But I’m trying my hardest with them.

Because one day I’ll make my rest among their lot

And that’s when the training will be worth it.


Laurence Levy-Atkinson is a writer and poet based in Melbourne, Australia. His recent work can be found in: Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal, Nightingale & Sparrow, Poetically, CP Quarterly and Green Ink, among others. He has been featured in the Slinkies emerging writers’ series curated by Spineless Wonders and shortlisted for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award.

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