Ben Banyard: Two poems

Basic Training

In my early twenties the king
put me in a uniform of itchy green
and taught me how to shoot
men of my age all over Europe.

Blisters stung my quick march
and I learned to imagine villages
as they might have been before
fire and rubble was all the rage.

When friends knew their fate
at the bullet’s keen-eyed rake
I found my haversack neatly hid tears
and packed them ready for home.

In a demob suit I forgot most of it,
skills and talents ill-fitted to a clerk
but dreams often remind me
of the procedure of death, its science.

A Dig

Straightening after laying flowers
in Autumn’s late afternoon nip
I hear the putter of a digger;
industry at work in this peace
as they heap the clay-bound soil
for a body, box and ending.

Next come boards and green mats
to guard against the horror of a fall
or the taint of the grave’s mud.
Then they’re drinking tea in the truck:
one eagerly scours the back pages,
the other’s hunched over his phone.

What will come later shouldn’t be seen.
There are top-hats and frock coats,
red-faced mourners, others pale,
all crowded in black, shuffling
behind the too-new pine casket,
a gaudy brass-handled sideboard.

After, they will heap back the earth.
Clods will thud dully on the coffin,
spades reporting on stones as
their work is completed yet undone
and someone’s quiet story
fades to the silence beneath.

Copyright © Ben Banyard 2015

Ben Banyard’s poetry has appeared in Popshot, The Interpreter’s House, The Broadsheet, London Grip and Ink Sweat & Tears amongst others, and is forthcoming in Prole and RAUM. His debut pamphlet, Communing, will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. Ben edits Clear Poetry, a blog dedicated to featuring accessible work by newcomers and old hands alike:

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Roderick Manson

The Amazing World Of M C Escher
(Exhibition, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art)

Room 2

3.  Phosphorescent Sea (July 1933)

The sea is a staircase where the curved lower steps rise to the regularity
of altars to the stars where you could walk on the water, if you so chose,
put your hand to The Plough, and pull yourself into the eternal sky as a
constellation, previously unknown, with no say in which one you would be.

4.  Still Life With Mirror (March 1934)

On the table a candle, erect and unlit, a perfume bottle, odourless, a
toothbrush, unused, in a glass, bone-dry, a comb, with all its teeth, and a
brush with no hair, and no sign it has ever known head, and this mirror,
reflecting the street outside and ignoring the stagnant within.

6.  Day And Night (February 1938)

I am a bird (at least, I bear its shape) and I wear the colour, black, as I
fly across a landscape which is rather flat and bereft of space and time,
and behind me, escaping from the nothingness where we were both conceived, is an anti-bird, counter-cloaked in white, which, although it disputes the negative label, nevertheless finds it hard to deny there is not and has not ever been a whitebird (as far as we know), but, in any event, we are twins for destruction if we ever meet up in the flesh, so we flee together in the same directions at opposite poles apart because if we collide we return whence we came but this time into nothingness as a symbol of what we had been.

Room 1

12. San Gimignano (February 1923)

When you think “medieval” is a term of abuse, or at best a patronising nod to the layers you build upon, consider these tower houses, caressing the sky, and think what your skyscrapers do.

Copyright © Roderick Manson 2015

On 29th August 2015, having written precisely three prose poems in his life, Roderick Manson decided that the exhibition “The Amazing World of M C Escher” at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art might prove fertile ground for more.  Two and a half hours and twenty-four prose poems later, he decided it would be a good idea to stop.

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Phil Wood


No wave, no life, washes up on the beach
but the T-Shirt does not fit. No matter,
after drying the cotton on granite,
the metaphysics shrink and I move on
beyond this cove, trudging back up the cliff.

Above the clinging path a pair of choughs
spilling in sky, stockinged in red, flaunt
their ease of flight, an aerobatic tease.
And I, like a Lewis chessman, bite my shield
for a queen and shuffle back to the waves.

Copyright © Phil Wood 2015

Phil Wood works in a statistics office. He enjoys working with numbers and words. His poetry work can be found in various publications including: Clear Poetry, The Lampeter Review, The Black Sheep Journal, Dactyl Zine.

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Carolyn O’Hara


Golden beams comfort
hard edged hills
and sprinkle sparkles
on stripy blue water.
Buoys bob and bounce
nudging waves against
hull and jetty.
Jubilant voices
skip as the air holds its breath.

But over distant hills
mist encroaches,
pinching pleasure,
stealing smiles,
greying the blue
as a tide of metal
edges in.
Windows close.
Jackets zip.
Movements freeze.
Mirth melts away.

Copyright © Carolyn O’Hara 2015

I live in Prestwick with my husband, and we have two grown up daughters. I have always had a love of the written word but only took up writing a few years ago when I joined AYR WRITERS’ CLUB and was encouraged to be adventurous. Since then I have had seventeen articles published, as well as four short stories.

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Jane Frank


We were walking to Elephant Rock
and after rain, the sand was dimpled like Braille

The irresponsibility of poetry was on my mind –
that’s how he’d put it

Not far out, a pod of humpbacks
was breaching and lunging
and we stopped,

sat on barnacled rocks,
talked of the whales’ long swim south
following currents to feed

Poetry is a chance to grow
a different way:
it’s journeys that matter.

Copyright © Jane Frank 2015

Jane Frank’s poems have appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Writ, Uneven Floor, Yellow Chair Review, Antiphon, The Lake and elsewhere in Australia and the UK. Jane teaches a range of writing disciplines at Griffith University in both Brisbane and on the Gold Coast in south east Queensland.

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Hamish Scott


At Buchenwald, the Nazi camp,
whan cam the en o Warld Weir Twa,
the gairds Almane turnt Rooshian
an thaim wis captive chynged an aa
Whare fowk haed dree’d thair wrangus guilt,
an Almane sodgers thoosans kilt,
thare five year mae fowk guidit sair;
thare Rooshians kilt thoosans mair
Yit Buchenwald Almane is kent
an murn’d warld-wide for whit wis fun;
whare Buchenwald while Rooshian
no monie kens an few laments
Whit maks this sae we aa maun speir
or Buchenwalds made new maun fear

Copyright © Hamish Scott 2015

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Three translations by Thomas Clark

Three translations by Thomas Clark


Ah hae dreamt o flicht. Ah hae dreamt
O yer sois, scaitert, in the chaumer.
Alang a pier, a mither;
An fifteen years o nurtur bi the oor.

Ah hae dreamt o flicht. “For aye an aye”,
Sicht at the stairs o the bou;
Ah hae dreamt o a mither;
A ripe buss o strachle,
An weddin braws knappit wi starn.

Alang a pier…
Alang a hause that’s drounin!

(From Cesar Vallejo)


Whan fou, ah vex, ah cry,
Ah think, ah say;
In hert ah find
If ah e’er die,
If ah e’er gan awa,
Thair, whaur there is deith,
Thair, whaur coortin’s made,
Ah gan ayont that…
If ah e’er die,
If ah e’er gan awa.

(From Nezahualcoyotl)


Cursin the dochter, the mither cried,
“Lass, ah wairnt ye aft o luve!
Noo ah see ah wairnt in vain.”
The dochter said, “Ma, dinnae chide!
Tae haud him oot ah sneckt the door,
He flew wi ivery sunbeam in;
Ootside ah socht evite fae dreams,
An haurd his sich oan ivery wund;
An whan ma ears an een ah shut,
He sleely ran aboot ma hert.”

(Johan Ludvig Runeberg)

Translations copyright © Thomas Clark, 2015

Thomas Clark is a writer and journalist who is currently poet-in-residence at Selkirk FC. His first pamphlet, Intae the Snaw, was published by Gatehouse Press in September 2015.

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