Gram Joel Davies – three poems

How Can I Mourn a Man Still Living?

At the edge of my ears, a single nerve
rings like a tungsten bulb.

All I have done is mention the orchard
where my dad would take us to buy from a man
who measured sugar into cider flagons.
Through planted rows awash
with a slow syrup of photons, I hear
the apple fallout of the branches.

Only a mention—but my dad looks to have witnessed
a flash over the horizon. A bottled
ferment from his centre rushes
staggered trees.

His face is fruit complete with rot
as the blast goes through but leaves him
standing, as himself, comprised of ash.

When his whimper finally breaks,
a ring of light hides everything.

First published in The Moth (ed. Rebecca O’Connor)

Die Back

Downpour. Over his ale,
he tells me, Ash wood burns wet.
Trains in disarray, villages
silenced. The English—
forever unprepared. To reach
a bus stop we needed waders.

That website showed us
how to spot the rot: patches
in bark like porter soaking
shirtsleeves; twigs’
black fingernails bared
above canopies.

We fought flash floods
on roads which closed like zips
behind us, to this inn fire
under these ceiling beams.
Some things appear changeless;
there are no tales of tomorrow.

Away in lanes, overhung by ashes’
banana-bunch branches, comes
a creeping flame. Another ale—
he tells me there were fewer
floods, back in his day.

First published in Bolts of Silk (ed. Juliet Wilson)

Sid is Material

Today, Sid is net curtain,
which is to say, he is flesh.

He steps from his doorstep
into light frost, as a man

billows into him, heading
for the launderette. The frost

is light, the man’s duffle bag
only shines. Today, Sid

is flesh, which is to say,
he is bus ticket, frozen to kerb.

He passes the window where now
the bloke loads a drum

among turning drums. Sid is 80%
water, which is to say, machine

turning memory of pavement—
of peppered suds—of light to net

memory of flesh. Some days,
all Sid can do is remember.

He turns toward the bus stop,
mechanical, which is to say,

a line scored into glaze. Someone
taps his arm like white pepper,

asks if the number 10 just passed.
Today, Sid is bus stop signpost,

a shadow across the path.

First published in Bare Fiction (ed. Robert Harper)

Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon. His recent poetry appears in The Interpreter’s House, Dark Mountain and The Fenland Reed. His first collection Bolt Down This Earth is to be published by V. Press in April.

Alongside fellow poet Hannah Linden, Gram will appear at Cheltenham Poetry Festival on the 9th of May, with a workshop beforehand.

This year he is also touring with #Trios2017 poetry/art project in the Southwest.


Gram Joel Davies – four poems


The petrol station
is rain-slick, and joyous
as Ringo’s drawl.
They lock doors after midnight,
just a yellow hatch.

The pump ratchets price
like the lives of the drowned.
When it hits fifty quid,
I get enlightenment.

Not with acid and sitars –
just so much fossil pressure,
glutted off my shoes.
I could go anywhere, do
anything, tonight.

I go to the counter,
ask for a ham sarnie.
My voice clangs through the comm
like a submarine captain.
The kid looks up, into just my face.


She holds light, like smoke-
machine smoke, her face

When she looks up, her mouth
makes to swallow
white noise.

A drum begins in my perineum,
conga skin beating.
Eyelids strobe.

In a smash of chords,
the band comes
to her voice.


Capricious, looking everywhere
………Half-hopes lick her
pulse, revealed in bungled buttons,
mishandled change, passed
with barely brushing fingers,
………I did this – with half-meant glances
from the top of an eight-year incline,
and now, made dumb by asking of myself,
………is she too young?


My powers stopped working
at the river.
Some of us had crossed

to the big stump but the current
beat my headway.
My powers never were for swimming.

I drifted to the weir
and did not bother the adults:

magic is to make things safe
without speaking.
A man stripped and dived.

I was hoisted on a towel
up a nettled bank. My skin
burned twice.

Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon. His recent poetry can be found in Bare Fiction, Envoi and Under the Radar.

He writes and reads with Juncture 25 Poets. Last year, he and his collaboration partner Hannah Linden together won the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Compound competition. They will appear at the festival in May this year. He is compiling his first book as you read this. Find out more at or @GramJD.