Jeff Skinner – three poems


An uneven finish. Wrinkled
like milk skin but glazed
as hard as twice-fired clay
no brick could break.

It isn’t like a lake you can
skate and look back on,
no rink. It is post-industrial,
a hardened artery,

ghostly bike after Hirst.
Landlocked like kayak, duck,
narrowboats mutter in queues.
Primordial fish move slowly

waiting for sun, its chink:
they are deep,
conserving energy. No Eskimo, I must be
patient to hook one.

Those Nasturtiums

Three days they dazzled
Petal-suns printing air
Orange, copper, gold
Only to fold, burnt-out,
Like stars extinguished
As fireworks in water.

The fuse, green-wired,
You cut with care
In case the blooms
Exploded in your arms.
Then dropped them in a vase
To fix the colour,
As I do now
With words for flowers.

The Percussionist

The harpist’s beautiful hands, food, a new high-hat –
is this what he thinks about – stranded at the back
of the stage like a bouncer biding his time?

Patient angler, a twitcher
on the shore, he leans to turn the pages
of a score; waiting for a movement, the sign

which brings him, tails lightly flicked,
to his feet, legs planted shoulder-width apart:
to pick the silent planets from a stand

(careful that their paths do not cross)
poised to wake heaven with applause
or skim it with a plasterer’s kiss –

and just as soon sit down
as on a pew. Resting, between gigs,
he’ll give you the old glockenspiel,

how he’s filling in with a trio now,
cymbal-riding, cooking and shuffling,
no triangle. Perhaps it’s that.

Jeff Skinner lives in Exeter, where he plays old blokes’ football once a week and volunteers at the local Food Bank. He retired in 2013 after a career spent as a librarian in the NHS where he also acted as a union rep for Unison.

Jeff’s work has appeared online at Morning Star, The Stare’s Nest and Crowsfeet, as well as on buses thanks to Guernsey’s Poetry on the Move competition!

He tweets occasionally @JeffSquibby.

2 thoughts on “Jeff Skinner – three poems

    • Jeff Skinner April 2, 2015 / 11:35 am

      Thank you


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