INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
138 x 216mm
£9.50 + P&P UK
‘Owl Unbound’ examines nature and humanity in a wide range of settings; from a stag beetle on a suburban fence to fossils on a Somerset beach, from a Cotswold roofer “tiptoeing the thin laths” to a bag lady in Covent Garden “dancing at the amplifier's right hand”.
Whilst there is tender joy and love in the collection, there is also anger and loss.
First we found the snake
a ball of coiled skin and muscle
in a pickling jar at the base of the hedge.
I followed my father up
the outside stair to the stable loft,
on one side the railway signal
without a track,
on the other a brick wall,
pocked as the moon,
that would crumble
like cheese in the rain
under the thud of my ball
and send it flying sideways
The tread creaked as my father entered
and I followed into the dim.
I looked around, but saw
only an empty perching post.
The owl had gone with its master.
At my father’s instruction
I held out my hands
as if ready to receive bread and wine,
but into my bowl of fingers
he dropped a pellet,
a galaxy of small bones and feathers
cocooned in fur.
That night I woke.
The moon shredded by clouds
hung over the stable roof
and an owl called unbound
from the cypress tree.
The Lost Daughter
The female body is 55% water. The rest is dust.
The fullness in the throat will not be cleared.
Deep in the night,
when the farm dogs clamour at the moon,
the throat tightens and contracts.
Under the floorboards
the dark heaves and swells.
This fullness, this emptiness.
You clear your throat,
and still the dark swells.
You have dust in your throat.
Whose dust rises in moonlight?
Whose dust lies upon lungs,
clogs veins, fills your head with fears?
There are so many images
that in the night sidle between the sheets.
In the day perhaps they can be put aside,
wiped from the window like condensation.
You rise and rinse her out of your throat.
But then the dust gathers again
and the panes mist over.
The drops join and begin to flow.
Zoe Brooks worked with disadvantaged communities in London and East Oxford before returning to her native Gloucestershire to write and grow vegetables.
Zoe has been widely published in print and online magazines and appeared in the anthology 'Grandchildren of Albion'.
Her long poem 'Fool's Paradise' won the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition award for best poetry ebook 2013.
Sometimes, still, I come across
your death again.
As I sign executor’s deeds,
that is beneath interest,
I discover my mother’s words –
“He died today.”
And the shock of it
makes my hand pause.
My hand reaches down
to the little cat
with no ears,
which rubs against my ankle crying.
You had hands big enough
to hold that cat
in your palm,
away from the burning barn.
Caught in the spiral of notes, she
Captured in the lock of time, she
So in the density, she
In the perplexity of leaves,
hanging like men, she
clung to her faith.
One by one the leaves fell, she
was alone again.
The dew rose, she
The leaves relaxed on the branches, she
They hung like veils over widows’ faces, she
listened to their words.
The seasons rose like four suns, and she
Light on the Marriage Bed
through ash leaves
like water shine
on my empty sheets.
I lean to smooth
the cotton down.
I am smoothing the sea
and I smell you in it,
as I would smell salt
and the flood.
“Robert Frost described poetry as ‘a way of taking life by the throat’, and the fearless, vivid and immensely lyrical poems in 'Owl Unbound' do just that. A masterful collection of poems by an extraordinary poet.”
“There are so many lines here that stick with me and continue to unfold. Language that is fresh and unexpected, that gives us that inner nod of recognition.”