Colin Will – three poems


Summer childhoods in the woods
I’d watch dor beetles flying –
black, buzzy bullets –
wavering slowly, erratically,
between the trunks.

Sometimes inert ones
on the ground
would be turned over
to reveal clusters of mites
in the chinks of chitin armour,
sucking the hydraulic fluid
until there wasn’t enough left
to power the wings.

Big, gentle, lumbering, shiny as jet
and lustrous as a crow’s wing,
with bristly legs and hooked feet;
into their inscrutable faces I projected
a kind of heroic stoicism.


Crab sandwiches.
Free crab sandwiches,
the man said.
So we went along.
Free Mark Hix crab sandwiches,
brown or white bread,
brown and white meat.
Saw the chef.
Speeches about the first
Lyme Regis Crab Week.
A crooner who was,
we thought,
pretty good.
And crab sandwiches.
Second and third helpings,
and then
we stopped counting.

The service

We’re sitting together
to receive words
from the other side.
It’s not comfortable –
the eager rows
are just too close.

Hymns are announced
and immediately sung
unaccompanied. I don’t know them,
so I stay silent, even for

“Oh Death, where is thy sting?”
to the melody of
“I want to teach the world to sing.”

There’s a prayer;
something about
life not ever ending,
and I want to shout a denial
but politeness wins.

Now we’re into messages.
Names are thrown in the air.
One is picked up, repeated.
It’s a three-way chat
with one silent partner.
The relay sounds
like some flawed switchboard,
a muffled megaphone.

Some words find targets –
by chance or skill
I couldn’t say. Others seem
at tangents to real lives,
but hope is twisted to fit
and they’re accepted.

I can’t believe
what I’m hearing. It seems
forms finer than shadows
walk beside us,
whisper unheard nothings
over our shoulders.

My friend says not to worry,
newcomers almost never
make contact the first time.

She must sense, surely,
I’ll never come back,
but I’ll remember
the cold, open beach,
her hair blowing in the wind,
the things she does
to camouflage her scars.

Colin Will lives in Dunbar. He has had eight poetry collections published, the latest being The Book of Ways (Red Squirrel Press, 2014). He does readings, runs workshops, and chairs the Board of the StAnza Poetry Festival. He runs the pamphlet publisher Calder Wood Press, and the poetry zine The Open Mouse. Website:


One thought on “Colin Will – three poems

  1. seaviewwarrenpoint February 9, 2015 / 8:05 am

    ‘Black, buzzy bullets’ – what a wonderful description for beetles!


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