Poet and shop assistant Paul Brookes lives and writes in a cat house full of teddy bears. He's published numerous volumes of poetry, including The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley (Dearne Community Arts), The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press), and A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press). He's also collaborated with other artists – on Stubborn Sod (Alien Buddha Press) with Marcel Herms in 2019, and on the forthcoming Khoshhali with Hiva Moazed. Paul is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and editor of the Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.
R Ash Wednesday
Thas gonna mucky me forehead
wi old codgers ashes what we burned
yonks since as if it could remove
our guilt and sinfulness for doing so.
As tha finger paints a cross on me bonce
al see our ancestor crinkle and pop
Like it were fireworks and watch all
harshness and fret go up in smoke.
Al have to go mi sen a wesh afore
a sees our lass else it'll get her
all wonderin' an we don't want that.
Don't want folk pryin'. No need.
The regular gent
as I beep the barcode
of his white bread,
I take correct change
from his held out palm.
He struggles to put his purchase
into his thin plastic bag.
I open the bag wider
and drop the bread into it.
My wife is cremated, he says
She'll be buried Thursday.
I say I'm sorry to hear that
as my till queue gets longer
he lingers, a heavy silence.
I say hello to the next customer.
The heavy silence moves
towards the door.
We Wait For Sick Sunblaze To
Too long in the barren teeth
lustre is death,
see this wrinkled skin,
blinded by this sharp, dry lucence.
The soft, sodden darkness will give us life.
Make us young once more.
Rub out these wrinkled laugh lines.
Smile again in the night.
Blood unclenches without light,
opens nightscented warm inside thighs
and playful inside fragrant mouths
tastes a sweetlife of shadows.
Darkness outside reflects
the firedark between your thighs,
welcoming wild cave of your mouth.
Our tongues play together
in the juicednight.
What has come into being in us is life, life that is tenebrous; eyes use what sunless gives,
dark shines in lightness, and lightness cannot overpower it. Aphotic.
Listen, words bear witness to dark, so that everyone might believe through them.
Words out of warm, wet atramentous mouths.
Words are not the dark, they bear witness to the dark.
Real dark that gives dark to everyone; it is coming into the world.