GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
DANCING ON A ROCK
Dancing on a Rock is Chrys Salt's fourth full poetry collection. Her work is widely published, has appeared in anthologies all over the world, been performed on BBC Radio 3 and 4, UK wide, in the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Finland. It has been translated into French and Arabic and is currently being translated into Hebrew. Her poem ‘The Burning’ from Weaver of Grass (GRASS IDP 2012) was selected as one of the 20 Best Scottish Poems 2012.
In 2014 her limited edition pamphlet Weaver of Grass (Hattericks House 2013, artwork Deirdre Carlisle) was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.
She was awarded a Writers Bursary by Creative Scotland to finish this collection and awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Dancing on a Rock
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£9.99 + P&P UK
PUB: February 2015
Dancing on a Rock
I hear it in dark corners
lit by words
in insects stirring before gossamer
in din of arguments
in print interred
high song of larks
low syllables of home.
I hear it when night bends round sleep
and waking finds it finished
round and true
in silences that speak
batter of guns and bombs
making unmaking making all anew.
I hear it when feet crunch on hope
in exits entrances and loss
journeys to and fro
messages in spidery scrawl
in burnt out rooms
charred paper scraps
the leavings in a bowl.
I hear it in vacancy
knees scraping on lost histories
in rotting garbage
choirs in stalls
I hear it in the death of bees
running in and out
weigh it with hair
count it with petal fall
in a fossil dancing on a rock
hear it in everything
and after all of this.
Our neighbour built big bonfires for us
on the allotment behind our house.
Stoked it with chestnuts, told us where
hibernating toads and slow worms were.
Left little messages, pipe cleaner men,
surprises in the doorway of our den.
Found us an orange box to make a table.
He made my childhood memorable.
One evening sitting on his knee
watching Tom and Jerry on TV,
his hand crept slyly up my frock.
tickly at first, then confusion, shock
wrong mixed with right, stock-stillness, fear,
senses uncharted, half of me not there.
His fingers pushed inside me, nothing said
as Tom chased Jerry round and round my head.
He told me not to tell. I never did,
but next time he called round I hid.
Had a knack with kids our next door neighbour.
I wish I’d told my mum about John Bridger.
Leaving potatoes on the hob to boil
we ventured out in Macs and wellies
down the puddled track.
The light had gone.
Leaf mould and mud hissed under us
like nests of snakes,
then in a globe of torch,
we saw we stood up to our ankles
in a sea of toads.
Behind us, round us, under us,
seething and numberless
they clambered over rut and boot
croaking in warty congress
on each other’s backs,
focused with single purpose
on their breeding ground.
‘What did it matter if we trampled some,
crushed their tiny lives into the leaves?
There would be other toads
other journeys such as these.’
Yet we stood still as trees,
fearing to cause the smallest injury.
Wondered how many we had trodden on,
if the potatoes had boiled dry?
can you hear the fishes sing
clicking mandibles of ants
the slow sad slur
of snail trails over paths
the fraying edge of daffodils
as Spring wears out
the falling shadow of a rose
silence of leaves
holding their Autumn breath
of snow on stones
turning round and round
and years that slip like silk
through wedding rings
without a sound?
The Insurrection of Poetry
Poems are on the march.
They are singing
from the rubble of Ground Zero,
the ruins of Damascus and Sarajevo,
the bomb shelters of Amiriyah,
the poisoned bodies in Halabja,
from the mouths of murdered menfolk
Poems are growing from their winding sheets
in the mud and trenches
of butchered nature.
Their guns fire white poppies.
Their flags are the colour of rainbow.
Their hands fold paper cranes
under the olive trees.
From the bones of mutilated generations
they grow blossoms of resurrection.
you tyrants, murderers,
fanatics, torturers, liars,
Poems all over the world
“Chrys Salt, a wonderful and unique poet, reaches her zenith. The past comes alive again, where dreams and desperations come hand in hand. Her work is poignant, full of anger, desire, and dreams that entice you to enter that world. This book touched me deeply.”
Dramatist, Poet, Novelist
From The Bronze Age to recent conflict, Chrys Salt's new collection explores distillations of memory, moments, lives, experience - the image of a fossil dancing on a rock reminding us of those things that are recorded, yet transient.