GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press), Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press) and Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams).
She has had poems published in numerous journals and anthologies.
Anna holds a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Gloucestershire and is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 16 APRIL 2018
Ghosting for Beginners
Ghosting for Beginners
Having only the suggestion of fingers, ghosts
are unable to embrace the internet.
The impotent deceased instead resort
to rustling papers, slamming doors
photo bombing family portraits,
haloing the living with a nebulous haze.
You, however have all the tools to hand.
There’s no need to hang around graveyards
with malevolent intent
or hex the air with an ominous waft.
Simply disappear from her twitter feed,
become invisible on her wall,
leave vast gaps between texts.
Imagine how the ghouls will envy you
when you become a spectre on social media.
You can imagine why they are irked,
absence is their Calling Card.
Oh gauzy digits
hovering over the keys,
unable to make impression.
Oh ethereal fingers
unable to click in 'un-friend'.
Her Mane is Smoke Rising from Rough Land
her teeth an ancient wall. Her nose looks more like a snout
than we expected.
She's nothing like the horses we've seen in our picture books
or the shoe boxes we'd splashed with paint
to resemble dappled flanks.
We watch her jaundiced teeth as she eats.
Her eyes are glossy, darted with a slit, her rough tongue
glossy, engorged – a flailing rope of red.
She’s tearing at the grass
as if it were a dress she wanted to remove
and I lean down and harvest for her.
Grafted tightly to the ground the thick stalks
take some plucking,
and I do not see her lower her head
like a boom bar.
The marks she leaves in my back are oval as a friendship circle,
scorching as a ring of fire.
The papers in the hotel are full of the President
who thinks climate change is a hoax.
Headlines say It's Game Over for Planet Earth.
You take me to your fields where feral goats chew cud
and you tell me how you are planting yellow rattle
to suppress the rough grasses growth.
The ground is still tussocked but you talk
about meadow flowers, wild legumes,
the bovine hooves that cut open the swathe.
I tell you about the President and you say
when the waters rise London will become Atlantis.
A white horse, stately as Pegasus, watches us
as we stumble down the slope to the shore.
We are still talking about the earth's future
as we leave footprints on the sand.
The sea, its salty tongue working
like someone who will not stop speaking,
gets the final word.
In the orchard,
her tongue turns to cuckoo spit
at the sight of the overripe damsons
lying in the long grass.
They should have been plucked
long ago, he says.
His fingers gleam with honeyed juice
as he feeds her, then worms his tongue
into the pulp within her mouth.
As he steals her sweetness
the fallen fruit, their skins split from impact,
weep a glitter into the ground.
On How Ghosts Take the Moral High Ground
A week after hanging himself he's back,
returned to the house of his fickle lover
shroud-bound, glassy faced, righteous, hovering above her bed
like a see-through falcon, ready to drop on prey.
The noose that did for him is lank as a snake's shed skin,
his tracing-paper fingers claw the air,
and he moans each time she kisses her new paramour
until they split apart, startled.
In life he was licentious,
but after death he's immaculate as a saint
scrubbed clean as if the Spiritual Realm
were a rough sponge brandished by a fierce hand.
All his sins are exfoliated now, his new skin
light as bible paper, lucent as rain.
Pity the poor woman beneath him
too guilt-struck to enjoy another’s embrace.
Imagine if each time you kissed a new lover
you were haunted by the one you betrayed.
Imagine if your sin was sent back – fingered,
pale hands holding a candle,
flame a halo around the shaft
so your darkness was broken by their pure white light.
To the Naturalist on Valentine’s Day
The rose stands in the thin vase,
its stem is like a amputated tail
in a fluid reserve.
Go and apologise to the trees
for what we have done.
Lopped them down for lumber
crushed their pulp for cards.
When you reach into the split bark
there is a faint pulse.
This one must be a hundred years old
it wears a heavy necklace of stalky green.
That one looks like Ted Hughes
impossibly lofty, swarthy,
with thick arms.
Later, lying in bed alone
you hear the rasping screech of the owl
the scream of something
that flies all night, exhilarated
by the dark, yet terrified
of its own appetite.
And Who Will Speak of the Ghost of the Rain
the spirits of the silver birches,
the traces of honeysuckle, the lily's souls?
We paint the spirit world as limbed and familiar,
describe a woman in jellyfish-bell
of crinoline skirt, gliding,
a drowned boy glistening with the lake that finished him,
a little girl, frothy with lace, clutching a doll,
skin glossy and grey as mercury spill.
But what of the spectre of cat,
darting under the door, like a vacuum-sucked flame,
the ghost moth, cocooned in its own gauzy blur,
the dead rose misted with its own mane?
What of the abstract other world?
Who dreams the rain's phantom in an arid land,
or writes of the spirit of the air – the grassy fragrance
plaintive amid the pollution – a bitter-sweet ballad
sung softly, under the breath.
'Haunted not simply by ghosts, but - richly - by myth, culture, and places both known and unknown, Anna Saunders’s new collection, a beautifully evocative read, invites us to see how complex, and how inter-related, the world we live in really is.'
‘In Ghosting for Beginners, Anna Saunders reveals to us a haunted world. In these precise, witty and unnerving poems, Saunders tests the limits between this world and the next. She asks profound questions about the light we try to hold onto and the darkness we struggle to keep at bay.’
‘Anna Saunders' is a modern myth-maker, unafraid of language and with her own rich and surprising vocabulary. She interrogates the good and bad, finding black humour and divine comedy in urban episodes of our collective, impatient and thirsty, often superficial, human comedy.’
‘Superbly imagistic, calmly passionate, questioning yet surefooted, occasionally phantasmagoric but rooted firmly in lived experience, these are very fine poems indeed’.
“These are poems which inhabit the shadowlands between reality and the imagined world – in which ghosts, folklore and myth are vividly present as versions of the things we experience in ‘real’ life. There is beauty to be found here and a clear-eyed willingness to remain open to wonder and to the possibilities of transcendence.”
‘These are exquisite poems full of engaging characters and situations. Anna’s poems are infused with humour and poignancy and it is clear how much she loves language and revels in its use. These vivid poems are full of musicality.’