Four Poems

by Stephen Kingsnorth

Body Language

Fresh daubs of blood may paint the caves
beside the shadows thrown,
and nails describe in strands of sand
the tidemarks worth record.
But how can I use marks on white
to scribe the clotted smears,
or shovel beach with erotemes
before the dunes are blown?

When bodies need sustaining,
slavering wolves at door,
it may be when we’re sleeping,
or dying on the floor,
that dreams pass by in pulses,
and poems colour more.
Cordial may be language,
arterial the route,
for hearts will be the suit.

Remember 1984,
time telescoped, yet wait,
the prophet’s loss in our account,
another cry of wolf.
But as the spiders see, hear all
from centre of the web,
the spinners, as their story tell
may fabricate the rest.

The desperate time for reading,
for seeking deeper signs,
is when the sighs exhausted,
and moonshine is the sun.
For none will read submissions,
save those who rule by thumb.
Save runes where paths are crossing,
fear poetry to come,
dear poetry for some.


Twelve sides, portcullis brass,
so looked threepenny bit.
A sterling eightieth,
not mighty spending power.
I kept a special piece;
its value highly prized.

The train was peopled close,
and no remaining seats,
I gave my place to age,
as trained from early years.

My station platform due,
the blazer buttons home,
emblazoned brass in place,
door handling to alight,
into my hand is pressed,
my protest waved aside,
the threepence coin piece,
nugget of living gold.


I treasure lore and legend’s spell,
the quest, pre-Raphaelites as well,
the Camden Group who thought they new,
The Germ and breaksthrough, re-tread tyres,
theology, biblical myth.

At core, the apple’s fall from grace,
for just as Adam’s bobs in place
leaved figs address the blamed disgrace;
while towers rise, languages mix,
and pride before that fall is fixed.

The flood can babble, Quelle, source,
if good for gander, maybe goose-
pimples stir in cultures near,
further afield, as deluge falls,
rainbows appear and prism sky.

So maybe raven, Ararat
could find a twig, deliver that.
And hope, like Jesse’s stump, arise,
and pollard promise yet again,
as bough already taken bow.

Though truth seems myth, the myth is true,
the records tell of human feuds.
Can nothing come from history
of journeys travelled, learned mistakes?
Perhaps one hangs, family tree?

Speaking Terms

For whom – that is the audience,
and what the purpose deemed;
the scholars robed in synagogue
or workers in the field?
The academic treatise,
a bard to span decades,
or words for everyman to hear,
though not that all will take?

I note that Galilean
spoke each in changing terms,
although the tone not varied,
except compassion stayed.
So some will understand the word
and most will think they do,
but millennia will pass
intent, intense tirade.

Beelzebub the subject
when pharisees are faced,
and resurrection marriage
when Sadducees in fray;
yet for Gerizim woman,
move mountains to find spring,
Syrophoenician mother,
give crumbs to puppy dogs.

Matthean manifesto
holds little sway with me,
but not my Jewish scriptures
that need to match the scene.
I hear that Luke moves others,
the Gentile, spirit strong,
who honours place of women,
and gives due weight to them.

Now John has left me speechless,
the beating heart leaned close,
but I am simple minded,
and signs fall short of bull.
Which leaves me one to make its mark,
that koine ruffian,
mother-in-law lies sick in bed,
raised for the washing up.

So retire academia,
if polymath, step down,
and write, as preach, without a text,
converse while wait the bus.
Though recognise, priority,
the rock – guess that’s a joke –
tells as it is, the son of man,
a first theology.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by some twenty on-line poetry sites, including Former People Journal; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines, Vita Brevis Anthology & Fly on the Wall Press ‘Identity’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s