"The Good Morrow": a poem by Jack Underwood

I’m not sure I remember what we did
before we LOVED. Were we gherkins bobbing
in our harmless jars, with vinegar and seeds?
Or were we stuffed in a tube of sleep for years?
Probably; but that kind of life is carbohydrate.
If I enjoyed anything then it was feeling FULL.

The rover is making dust-ladder tracks on Mars.
The Victorian sewers have been overhauled, widened.
And here we both are, up-and-dressed.
But it’s intimidating isn’t it
when cack-handed LOVE is at his console,
nuking all life beyond this tenuous room.
I’m going to rely heavily on you, out there.

This article first appeared in the 22 July 2013 issue of the New Statesman, How to make a saint

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"Samphire": a poem by Alison Brackenbury

"Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light. . . ."

My grandmother could cook it, for
she grew up by that dangerous shore
where the sea skulked without a wall

where I have seen it, tough as grass,
where silent men with rods trooped past
its salty ranks, without a glance.

Lear’s gatherer hangs perilously.
Why? So much is closed to me.
Did Shakespeare ever hear the sea?

Once, said my father, far inland,
from friend or stall, one clutch was found,
steamed, in my grandmother’s great pan.

Once, a smooth leaflet from a shop
claimed they could “source it”, but they stocked
bunched, peppered cress – Another gap.

Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light,
stalks I will never taste, could make
tenderly dark, my coast’s sly snake,
salt on my tongue, before I wake.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet. Her ninth collection, Skies, will be published by Carcanet in March

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle