Hands in coat pockets, watched by
pine-lined hills of the deepest green
at Dymock, I sat on a bench amongst
chimney crows cawing at the church.
Breathing in damp October air,
the thinning light falling fraction
by fraction in front of me, I sat
sucking my tongue into a frown.
The crows fussed on the gutter,
a black squabble in the gloaming
for a bed beneath the spire whilst
below, old stones stood quiescent,
mustard lichen growing slow as erosion.
Dried flowers smouldered in an incinerator
nearby, and across the churchyard the smoke
seemed not to dissipate but to linger, eerie.
I shivered and thought of my car, waiting
close to the hard mud paths and wet cob-
webbed hedges out towards fields where I saw
no trace of the poets once called away to war,
but now when I imagine the village again,
the sad smoke held still by watchful hills,
the calls of crows choked by cold darkening
air, I glimpse that which at first I missed.
Solstice in the Highlands
Drawing the curtains at midnight
we see the sun’s finally departed
and now a timid grey creeps by
outside, its faint light, the after-
glow of an old television screen
just switched off, lingers beneath
the hems across the wooden sill.
By noon the clouds blow blithe
through tall golden June rays
and green gardens glisten
after showers and my tiredness
is all but worn off – yet I remember
the night, deep rather than blank,
a basalt rock-pool filled with clear
distorting water waiting silent
until the diffused dawn slipped
in to cast my doubts in shadow,
What’s going to happen?
What’s going to happen?
– under the noon azure I glimpse
the ground soak up sunlight with the rain.
Try This For Size
I take your friendship as a shirt,
slip it over shoulders, button it up
my chest, roll it up my arms.
It’s snug around my waist
yet loose about my neck, the
way I like friendships best.
I take your secrets over ankles
knees and thighs as underwear
tight around my bum,
a strip visible to everybody
(so they know we’re intimate)
but not enough on show
to give anything away.
I have your temper
as my favourite jeans!
I’ll treasure these forever, patch
and mend them, proud to wear
them whole or in tatters.
There’re quips in the pockets
where I’m forever losing things,
but it’s dear to hear them swish
and rustle as I move along through life.
I use your cares as socks to keep
my toes warm, I tie your worries
as shoes and tread them into the ground.
Every day I walk past the coolest store where
your love is on the hat stand in the window.
I’m sure it’d be the perfect fit
and would look and feel just right.
I dream about one day holding it,
placing it across my brow to shade
my eyes from the glare of the sun.
But access to this store is by invite only.
I dread the day I walk past
to see that it’s gone.
An Argument on Camden High Street
Often at my bedsit above Camden High Street
a busker or a siren or a bottle smashed or a fight
would wake me, and I’d turn on my window pillow
to look down at the road to watch.
This time it was a couple’s argument
rather than a scrap between strangers
that brought me to the orange scene,
and I watched the man flail his arms
and come close to his partner’s face
to shout her shortcomings before turning
to walk away, return, then walk away again
several times. He came back for a last word
but this time the woman walked without
once looking back, his bawled command
Don’t walk away from me, Don’t walk away
from me, chuckled at by passing revellers.
James Bruce May read Creative Writing at Greenwich University and Goldsmiths College in London, where he currently lives with his girlfriend and his guitar. His work appears in journals including The Stare’s Nest, HARK Magazine, The Treacle Well, Word Bohemia, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Fat City Review, The Puffin Review, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and Gravel Magazine.
He blogs at http://jamesbrucemay.blogspot.co.uk