John Darwin – five poems


He dances over Yorkshire
as an old man spreading dust
of angels on the mortal.

Takes pleasure from the movement
of limbs set free from worry,
creaking knees and clicking heels.

He used to graft in textiles,
crafting heddle, shuttle, beam.
Now he tips his hat to strangers

and sways to his own tune.


A heart has more strings
than you have taken.
I am plucking those now.

Play more tricks,
four strings or six.
I will counter-harmonise
in consecutive fifths.

The timpani of this
will be lost
on you.

Nordic Hotel, Leeds 6

A student from Iran in the residents’ lounge
amused us with tales
of shaven heads and pony tails
in Tehran, pre Ayatollah.

Two hundred miles from home,
a back street guest house
with that weird spotted vinyl
in front of the bar.

Peppermint pop was exotic,
no charge for soft drinks.
A Yorkshire businessman
must have thought we were poor.

At the owners’ Silver Wedding
Dad claimed D-Day shrapnel
prevented him from dancing.
He was twelve at the time of the landings.


My Father found green fingers in his 50s,
how we mocked his passage into middle age,
with the naivety of the colour, not envy.
The lawn sprung emerald under his touch.

We sat with brandy and stuttered friendship
in his field of greens.
I touched on my desire to free Ireland.
‘As a haughty outsider,’ he scoffed.

Ffynon Farm

There was a door at the foot of the stairs,
the feel of 1920s Wales and the stammer of the language.

1961 etched into the yard,
looked the same in reverse,
our home for two weeks that seemed like years.

Felicitous home with big-eared boys
and our Parents’ friends from Yorkshire.

There were hippies in the field,
amused us with their ‘yeahs’ and ‘mans’,
a family from Urmston and rats by the cesspool,
we had no sense of time or plans.

Dad let me sit on his knee and pretend to drive
while dogs yapped at the wheels,
made that joke about Mr Mallett
crouching in the seat, changing gear in stutters.

The farmer let us pretend we were helping
while his sons swore at us in Welsh.

John Darwin lives in Manchester. He has been published in the anthology ‘Misery Begins at home‘ (Robert Brady, 2010) and as part of the poetry collective A Firm of Poets in the collection Holding Your Hand Through Hard Times (Ossett Observer Presents, 2014). He performs his work throughout the UK with A Firm of Poets and, occasionally, solo. He hosts a monthly poetry night at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Manchester. He is a Turkophile and enjoys frequent bumbles around Istanbul and the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Follow him on Twitter @DarwinPoet.

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