Sunday 12 February 2023

Five Poems by Steve Spence


Mobiloil Arctic


There’s a joy in the substance of paint

but eventually our collection takes over

the available space. “How difficult it is

to live here and watch this terrible scene,”


he said. In summer they are intricately

patterned while in winter they are dark

brown and can be hard to see. “If the limits

of growth are in sight, watch out,” he said.


Could it be that there are really alien hybrids

living among us? Here come the bully boys

again. As our planet warms up the weather is

becoming more extreme. Strangers appear


everywhere but our energy supplies rely on

a spider web of undersea pipelines. Every

moment of our lives we are making decisions

yet we continue to feel a deep sense of insecurity.





Facing the Demons


We are buying things that connect us

to our past but the barbershop sign is

not for sale. Which way to the basement?

“That’s why they are called turnstones,”


she said. We are at the end of our resources

and we are about to be confronted with a

hard winter. Are you a true enthusiast?

“He has a good oil can collection,” she said.


Suicide or prison, these seem to be our

options, yet those suspicions are being

allowed to spiral out of control. “These birds

are found on stony or rocky coasts, unlike


other waders,” she said. In most places

the systems are improving but we need to

make every mark count and these are

categorical types of information.





Slow to Clear


“Once upon a time I was obsessed

with anatomy books,” he said. This

painting business, it’s like wrestling

with mud. How good it would be to


just take off and spend winter in the

sun. New evidence reveals a more

complex history yet you need to be

able to walk away at a moment’s


notice without looking back. “I’m a

virtual traveller,” she said, “I haven’t

been anywhere real for many years.”

For our purpose, particularly interesting


material is required. Yet the truth is

more routine and our work has just

begun. Music hall or vaudeville? “I spend

my life decoding works of art,” she said.





Smoothing the Transitions


Are you abandoning us tonight?

“Your apron is a work of art,” he said.

Only so many digs were allowed in

the valley of the kings. “Moss eats


pollution,” she said. We need houses

but we need them in the right place

and these side windows are gorgeous.

“People in dreams are always secure


until the dreamer wakes,” he said.

The telephone wires, the sea, the sky,

the mountain in Santorini. Are we all

disagreeably attracted to power?


If we stick around for long enough

things may all come right. Meanwhile,

deserts and mountains, these are

the places where we need to go. 





Drawing us in


What about the evolution of the tongue?

Sometimes we just have to go that extra

mile and getting the right assistance can

make all the difference. “We’re going to


redraw the maps,” he said. You should

never rely on a single source for your

information but the calculations appear

to be correct. “It’s a police action, not


a war,” he said. Our reed bunting is dark

and streaked and often found in thickets

and hidden places. We remain unconstrained

though one person’s personality may be


akin to another’s personality disorder.

All these labels, what were we thinking of?

If nothing is happening you can make it up.

“I had an audition, I’m a musician,” she said.

Steve Spence - Is based in Plymouth where he co-coordinates The Language Club, an organisation which has featured live poetry events in the city for many years.H e writes reviews and have had poetry and critical work published in the following magazines and journals: Stride, The Rialto, Shearsman, Tears in the Fence, I.T., Shadowtrain, Molly Bloom, The New European and Stand, among others. His first collection A Curious Shipwreck, published by Shearsman in 2010 was shortlisted for the Forward Prize best debut collection and his most recent poetry collections are Eat Here, Get Gas & Worms (Red Ceilngs Press, 2021) and How the Light Changes (Shearsman, 2021).



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