A July 2022 Poetry Showcase from Annest Gwilym


Each day there is less light,
more darkness, as shadows lengthen.
There is an unravelling in the sky
as clouds spool away to the north.

Fungi and moss now cover the stumps
of trees the council cut down,
once marked with a red cross, 
which I wanted to scrub away.

In the nettle-sour alley weeds 
are taking over while in the hedgerow
a foxglove-bright sweet wrapper
is tangled in a bramble bush.

Someone’s car stereo startles me
and thumps its way down the road.
Another plastic drink bottle soon
joins others necklacing the curb.

I remember the gardens where there were
hundreds of lilac orchids but the car park
grass where a lone orchid grew last year
has been scalped, daisy heads decapitated.

Butterfly-filled buddleias tower above
like beautiful girls as I sidestep 
the remains of someone’s Chinese meal,
casually dumped on the roadside.

In tired July, I walk through tigered darkness 
and light, as I have always done.


Near the nature trail where they built
an ugly new house, uprooting ancient oak,
the wounded earth is slowly healing.

Buddleia bushes climb the sides
of the abandoned building, offering 
their violet candelabras to the sky.

Rosebay willowherb and red valerian frame it
while below we hear the steady grumble of cars,
above in trees wood pigeons bubble their song.

Bramble bushes in flower make the house
inaccessible, unreachable without injury,
like a fairy tale castle without a princess.

Green algae works its way up the windows,
which still have the manufacturer’s stickers. Nearby,
meadowsweet broadcasts its scent of honeyed almonds.

I imagine that inside it a fat slice of summer sun
penetrates the window, highlighting dust motes
and the mould that is starting to take over the walls.

And in my dreams I see an acorn take root
in the basement, an oak pushing its strong limbs
though windows, crumbling the structure to dust.

This Is Not How It Was Meant to Be

To be near the sea was all I dreamed of
in the unforgiving city, with its broken glass.

I’ve drained this place dry,
wrung sunsets from a watercolour sky,

tried to wear the sea’s drapes as a dress,
the moon’s tulle as a veil.

The sharpness of spring chafes my skin
as gulls slice dishwater skies.

Alone, I watch as a polygamous duck 
and its two wives land on burnished water.

Poor man’s beach – choked by remnants
of a dead industry, and litter.

Tired old sun in a silent sky
above the stale, clichéd sea.

This is not how it was meant to be.

Blodeuwedd Does the Dishes

She stands at the kitchen sink,
fingers puckering in lukewarm water.
Her hair is as frothy as meadowsweet,
golden as broom, silky as sunlight.

A loaf slowly bakes in the oven,
its scent makes her stomach groan.
As she gazes towards the distant forest
a pheasant’s rusty call startles her.

She bats away a sibilant wasp.
Her floral perfume is like a veil,
but her secret scent is desolation,
bright and sharp as gorse.

In spite of all her allure,
her bones are limestone,
her eyes are haunted houses,
her blood peaty mountain streams.

You were made for me, you’re perfect,
so you must not go out when I’m not here.
She thinks only of the stranger in the meadow 
that morning, with his full-moon eyes.

He had gazed at her with no wish to possess.
He seemed to hold a promise of unfettered days
as he turned a burnished dagger over and over
in his hand, its mirrored finish flashing.

At night she dreams of leaving this world
of oven and hearth, slicing the midnight air
as an owl, unseen, untamed, in silent joy,
where she is the forest, the earth in bloom.

A Surrealist's Living Room

The sofa is a baggy old elephant
batting away mosquitoes in the heat,
its roomy rump wrinkled and worn.

In its creases there is bara brith,
a silver sixpence, a magpie’s haunted eye 
and a WWII hand grenade.

The peeling leather veneer
reveals flat continents, created 
before the world was round.
Dragons stalk the oceans between them.

The TV is a portal where you can revisit
your past lives, by a sly click of the remote.
This brings a flotilla of violet butterflies
into the room, showering powder
that smells of jasmine and salt.

The ghosts of long-dead sea snails
despondently circle the bowl of exotic shells –
their dismal moans make the dog howl.

The silk flower display conceals an owl –
its eyes are the brown centres of two 
oversized daisies, which send esoteric
messages to the sea snail ghosts.

Outside the bay window birds crowd
on the windowsill to see the giant flowers,
smallest and chirpiest ones at the front.

Sunsets are caught in the hand-painted mirror
from Hungary, which returns them
bloodied and magnified to the waiting sky.

The rug isn’t magic but it does let you
contact the dead when you place a glass on it, 
making the neighbourhood cats
yowl for their supper.

The telephone sits smug in its cradle –
it can teleport you to your dream destination,
if you ask it nicely three times.
Nausea, confusion and disorientation
are the gifts for those it doesn’t like.

Green ceramic tiles form a grid system,
so you can find the Pharoah’s tomb,
where wonderful things and a curse await you.

And if you fall under the room’s spell,
you will never be able to leave.

Bio: Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. What the Owl Taught Me was Poetry Kit’s Book of the Month in June 2020 and one of North of Oxford’s summer reading recommendations in 2020. Annest has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print, and placed in several writing competitions, winning one. She was the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry from 2018-2020. She was a nominee for Best of the Net 2021. Twitter: @AnnestGwilym

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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