Three poems by Marilyn Francis


I spent all afternoon watching (and not watching)
from the shade of a Chinese parasol. My view of the spaced
out white-on-green obscured by Riders of the Purple Sage.

Lost in the Wild West, I missed the tip-toe run
the fingertip fling, the smack of the ball into the blue,
the backward leap, and the stinging catch.

If the drinkers outside the Barley Mow set up a hullabaloo
I didn’t hear it. There might have been some polite applause
from the crowd – I didn’t hear it.

Your High Noon moment, the walk from the pavilion
to the crease, the crack of the wicket, the lonesome walk back
to the pavilion. I watched that.

(first published in Prole Magazine – issue 7 prolebooks)

It’s unseasonably hot
the Met Office says we are having Spain’s weather
and they are having ours. What we’ve got is a Spanish Plume

according to the BBC. It might thunder. Or not.
I’m lying in the shadow cast by a giant rhubarb tree
that’s growing out of a rusty dustbin.

The leaves, spread like a catcher’s hands,
could hold a sleeping baby. I am reading a book
of poems backwards from last page to first.

Nothing stops the rhubarb tree. Not heat. Not frost. Not snow.
Not drought. Not flood. It’s been growing since before the mines
closed. It’ll be there when Mr Barratt’s ‘homes’ are gone

from the fields where ammonites still lie among the nettles
and knotweed. It’ll be there when the baby wakes. When the first
poem is read. When the thunder begins to roll.

(awarded Second Place in the 2011 Wells Literary Festival Competition)

Driving through a black gap
and clouds like lumps of plasticine –
there’s no one else on this road
that scrawls across the rusted country

side where I am lost in the worn fold
of the map. Where the only sound is the wind scraping
the land to bone. To stone. On my lips the tang of copper
hovers like a kiss from a long-ago bus conductor.

Mytholmroyd; Blackshaw; Hawkclough
sounds coughed from a blackened lung.
Names carved from some hard thing.
And you no nearer finding me.

(Commended in the Poetry Kit Competition 2011)
Marilyn Francis lives and works in Midsomer Norton. Her first poetry collection, red silk slippers was published by Circaidy Gregory Press in 2009.