Clear Poetry Anthology 2017

So that’s it! Clear Poetry has published its very last set of poems.

As a parting gift, I’ve put together a third and final anthology, which is free to download as a pdf. I’ve selected a poem by each of the fabulous writers that I’ve featured on the site over the past year.

**You can download it here**

Cover 2017

Or you can read it via the embedded player at the bottom of this post.

**Although it is available free of charge, please consider donating whatever you can afford to a charity of your choice.**

I plan to keep the Facebook page active, which I’ll use to share links to publications by CP’s many contributors, as well as work I come across which I think the site’s loyal readers might enjoy.

You can also follow me on my personal blog, Facebook page and Twitter account.

Many thanks to everyone who has supported the site, and I wish you all the very best for 2018 and beyond.

Ben Banyard
Editor, Clear Poetry

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed reading Clear Poetry there’s a tips jar Paypal button to the right hand side of the page, or below, depending on the device you’re using to view this site. All tips accepted most gratefully by the editor!

Robert Nisbet – three poems

The Fruits of His Labours

Fruitless now, or nearly so,
the apple tree my father planted,
just after the Second World War.
Plenty of leaf, but a lichened bark,
the tiny apples on the sour side.

He was proud of his russet miracles,
in a past, more certain age.
They were so sweet he’d know and fear
that the boys from the streets around
would come scrambling over the wall,
to scrump and thieve. He put up a sign:
This fruit is sprayed with gastrocrapulol,
and will cause prodigious runs.
The hanging apples prospered.

Like fathers in fiction, he was free
with sayings and instances, damning me
for smuggling in a copy of Chatterley,
cursing those demos and protesters all.

He exhorted in the cause of graft,
tradition, steady ways, an uprightness,
hard work, a good malt whisky,
the decent old boys he met, on the farms
and in the pub. He had little time
for chapel, church and ceremony,
and none for Maggie the Prime Minister.

I’m glad the apple tree’s still there.
I applaud its gnarled and weathered body.

Side Window 
Being driven out of Edinburgh city centre, one August morning at eight o’clock.

Down a theatre street, purring,
past a huddle of Shakespeareans, clad
for Romeo maybe, a Rosalind, a bleary Cleopatra,
and a fool, in motley, pig’s-bladder-bopping
young heads so stuffed with verse.

Past a corner shop and two fine silverheads,
their copies of The Record, and an unheard
dialogue, such shafts and sallies.
A woman then with a quiver of scratch cards,
spinning her fortune’s wheel, a blank, blank, blank.

And soon a tall front door, and a greybeard,
with his girl, maybe a decade younger,
assisting her in. Step in, m’dear. And he,
quite clearly, clamping his hands around
plump buttocks, in brilliant day.

O Greybeard, man, such cameo, such cameo.

Night Train

Ferried by night, train out of Cardiff, ten.
I wasn’t drunk or drugged, just stunned really,
by travel. On the last leg now. I wanted to doze,
close eyes and brain to two hours’ racketing traffic.

Football fanatics spouted gladsome sound,
through lamp-lit Wales. Some Cup game, the boys,
Josh and Corky up for it, cracking goals, Jesus.
The ref routinely bastardised. Good game.
Around Port Talbot, the steelworks’ fiery red
glistened on the dazzled face of drink.

Half-heard, the girls. Mainly mutterings,
the hims, he saids, threads of the intimate, twisting,
as Swansea briefly shone, to their manager, Jane,
the woman’s good name quite vehemently stuffed.
The stream of the conversation glimmered
in night’s reflections and the flickering smiles.

The guard was soothing. Just at times I felt
a shiver of exposure, down among the castaways,
and he’d be there, station by station, loud, benign,
Welsh-vowelled, regularity’s presence.

And we all slobbed out on to Carmarthen’s platform,
blinking in a wavering orange light.
The fans looked dopey now, like little old men.
The girls looked younger though, quite coy.

‘Night Train’ appears in Robert’s new Prolebooks pamphlet Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes

Robert Nisbet, a creative writing tutor, has been sending poems out from Haverfordwest, West Wales, for just over ten years, with many publications in the USA and in Britain, including frequent appearances in Clear Poetry. He recently won the 2017 Prole Pamphlet competition with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, a short collection of 35 poems which has just been published by Prolebooks.

Robert was the first poet to appear on the site, and his work has come to epitomise the sort of writing I chose to publish. It’s fitting that his is the last post on Clear Poetry.

Carole Bromley – three poems

One of these Days

We really will turn out the loft.
There’s an old pram in there gathering dust,
a suitcase of baby-clothes, a ping-pong table,
those paper cranes Tom made in Japan.

Various wedding handbags in bright pink,
emerald green and that black suede one
Jo’s dad spilt gravy on while filling me in
on the big disappointments of his life.

I know there’s still a tea chest from the move
and in it old love letters, that photo
of you smiling awkwardly at Caversham Lock
before the Head of the River Race.

Somewhere in there, too, is the wooden jeep
John made for the Action Men
with a bonnet that opens up
where we kept all the odd Sindy shoes.

I picture the last Action man
dressed in the sweater mum knitted,
propped, leaning back in the driving seat,
eagle eyes staring into the dark.

My Case

Its abandoned doppelganger
goes round and round on the carousel
long after the crowds have left.
I curse myself for not tying on
a sparkly Christmas ribbon,
for not painting a Union Jack on it
like we did on our tortoise.

I walk through Nothing to declare
and out into bright sun, in my hand
Ted Hughes, The Unauthorised Life,
a banana, crisp new euros in a purse
I never use, and sunglasses.
I hail a taxi, feeling oddly weightless,
my knickers, my six ironed T shirts gone.

A breath

We can’t say they haven’t warned us.
The path is beautiful but treacherous

but we go anyway, slithering and falling
through the woods and up the rutted track

where the air is suddenly cold
and so sharp it takes our breath away,

and we’re too busy admiring the view
to give a thought to getting back

through the gathering dark, our signals dead,
to the meal already on the table.

Carole Bromley has three collections with Smith/Doorstop, A Guided Tour of the Ice House and The Stonegate Devil for adults and a new collection for children, Blast Off! 

Ian McMillan – two poems

Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, History

Steaming chip-shop and the red-hot chips
And me shaking salt, pepper and vinegar
All over them like I’m some kind of weather.

‘Do you want history with that?’ The woman
Behind the counter asks. Her tattoo is laughing
Or maybe it’s just the way steam makes the shop

Shiver in and out of time. ‘No thanks’ I say,
‘I’ll eat it here’ and she puts away the history,
Beside the pickled eggs on the top shelf.

After My Funeral

I knocked on the window of the community centre,
Reincarnated as an owl. There was loud laughter

Inside, and a telling of stories and singing of songs.
One person told that story about me and the ring.

One person told that story about me and the tractor.
One person told that story about me and that teacher

Who gave me a dustpan and brush that time. We’re all
Stories, remembered later. ‘Look, everybody, an owl

At the window!’ Someone said. My knocking grew louder
And someone pointed at me with a long loaded finger.

Ian is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC. He presents The Verb every week on BBC Radio 3 and he’s appeared on BBC Breakfast, Coast, Countryfile, Pointless Celebrities, The Yorkshire Dales and The Lakes (amongst many others). He’s also been a castaway on Desert Island Discs.

His To Fold the Evening Star – New and Selected Poems was published last year by Carcanet.

Previously, Ian was resident poet for English National Opera, UK Trade & Investment, Yorkshire TV’s Investigative Poet and Humberside Police’s Beat Poet. Cats make him sneeze.

Ian’s website is at and tweets to his 38,000 followers @IMcMillan

Catherine Ayres – four poems


I understand why you left; not because
of moorland behind your eyes, snow packed high
as walls against a track, broken places,
pine stretching through fire into the sky. No,
you left because I tilted maps, slanted
fields until they yearned for sun, every
tree at twilight the remains of a dance
in dust. Forgive this ache for the unloved.
I know you need an altar, hilltops lithe
with light, your shadow’s spire across the fell.
I fray these edges gold, torment your heart
with fragile sacraments. My love, walk on.
You worship blink of distance against stone;
I kneel at puddles’ shrines. We pray alone.

Woman at dusk

The day slips its skin.
A line of beech waits for the moon.
Birds are mousey in the hedge –
a small one aches across the sun.
The sky is a chrysalis,
then a molten line like the lip of the sea,
then too much fire to be sad.
The woman steps inside.
From her kitchen window, stars.


If I could take back the first time you touched me.

Light swells my spine,
the horizon aches.

Up here, only land and sky.

I have come to birth our ghosts on this fell.

A grouse chuckles in the gentle-bleak.
The curlew sings her madness to the stars.


Yes, I am lost.
But on the lawn
by the circle of cars
a slant of dusk
finds the tree.
I watch it flare.
Sometimes there is
just enough light.

Catherine Ayres works as a teacher in Northumberland. In 2015, she came 3rd in the Hippocrates Prize and in 2016 she won the Elbow Room Prize. Her debut collection, Amazon, is published by Indigo Dreams.

Julia Webb – three poems


the day was fust
there were no birds winging
across the wrung out rag of sky
no tree-rustle or wind-hum
just the flamesome worry
and the persistence of planes
whomping through hungover clouds
it wasn’t a festive outing
nothing was cheery or brightly clean
the heavens were alive
with all the wrong kinds of possibility
we didn’t dare turn on the news
but waited wishing for shelters
contented ourselves
with torch batteries
counting tins


But the river keeps on flowing, choking up with weed like always. There might be fish here if you look hard enough, if the brickworks haven’t left it too polluted. You slept here once, years ago, on the pine-needled ground, food kept in an old metal shopping trolley to deter the rats, his hands on your waist – the hands that would later, the hands that would try and make you take the blame. Why do they have to keep carving up the land, hacking it apart like an old carcass? Here is where your teenage aunt and her longhaired boyfriend tried to scare you; twigs cracking like gunshot behind your back. Nothing exists now but the roar of traffic. Where is the second weir where the boys rode their bikes off the high concrete bank, dropping like stones into the river below?

Office Romance

He is a desk-jockey and no mistake,
riding the nine to five swivel chair,
each working day a rodeo steer
to be lassoed and broken.
Here is an escaped afternoon boiling
over into the people-dense street;
here is a lift stuck between floors.
He is hardwired to the keyboard,
all qwerty-fingered.
When you speak he turns his blank- screen
face towards your voice. A software crash
rolls across the space between you –
everything in an instant frozen.
You are a blip he can’t quite register, a rogue cursor.
After lunch he saddles up again,
and as he gallops past you in the corridor
there’s a momentary flicker.
You find his emails in the spam filter later,
press delete without reading.

Julia Webb is a graduate of UEA’s Poetry MA. She is an editor for Lighthouse, and she works as a creative writing tutor and for Gatehouse Press. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.

Maria Taylor – three poems

When the Cat Gets My Tongue

I’m tiger-striped – prowling lonely alleys
after dark. Tail high, screw you eyes.

The moon dances to a feral song,
she’s drunk again, tottering into bins

and full of herself, circled by a Tom,
gin-heart and knuckle-tough.

My back arches into a scream,
feline talk for a word between

hurt and joy; translating clouds
into howl, the rustle and shimmy

of branches. I tell you everything
through a gust of night. You hear me

via Venus and the Seven Sisters
under your spotless linen.

Unfinished Business

Like the ghost who never realised
he was dead, or the unending record
stuck in a groove, or the comedian
who forgot the punchline, or the bud
spoiled by frost, or the last Rolo,
or the half-painted living room,
or Beethoven’s draft of his tenth
chucked out by the cleaner,
or the bottle of fizz never opened
for a special day, or the rainy day
that rained all year. Who’s sadder?
The man waiting at the bar,
or the woman who won’t walk in?

First published in The North.


There was always a Jenny.
Jenny no.1 wore a roll-neck top,
beige and ribbed. She was so quiet
she’s only a face now, unlike
Jenny no.2 who was cuckoo
and told fibs. Her one truth
was that she was adopted
and was moving to Llanelli
which sounded made-up.
Next was Jenny Monaghan,
the talented one who knew
how to Lindy Hop and did so
on Blue Peter. Then Jenny no.4
who didn’t actually exist.
A boy called me Jenny,
at a bus stop in Leamington Spa.
I was so taken aback,
I nodded and rode home
with a different name.

From Instructions for Making Me, HappenStance, 2016

Maria Taylor is a poet and reviewer from Leicestershire. Her first collection, Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press, 2012), was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Her pamphlet, Instructions for Making Me, came out in 2016 with HappenStance Press. Her poems have been published in a range of magazines including The Rialto, Magma and Ambit. She is Reviews Editor for Under the Radar magazine and blogs at Commonplace.