Geraldine Clarkson

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the poet

Geraldine Clarkson lives and works in Warwickshire.

Her various occupations have included teaching English to refugees and migrants, working in warehouses, care homes, libraries, churches, offices and a call centre, and living in a silent monastic order for some years in South America. She has published poetry pamphlets with Smith|Doorstop and Shearsman Books. Her debut collection, Monica's Overcoat of Flesh, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2020.

the poems

winding down

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              maybe a tree falls
              or a bear keels
              maybe all the creatures of song are brought low 
              and the grasshopper drags itself along
              and the moon fails

              clearly a light has left the earth
              bleeding slowly
              while the waters stopped clapping their hands

              it’s the end of lilies
              and liver-freckled butterflies

              the last flew off this summer

              the wind is tired now
              has petit mal
              is going home 
              shutting up shop
              just a few scarlet leaves 
              spin in its sigh 
              as it boards up the door

Muzzy McIntyre

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Muzzy McIntyre brushed her  bangs and went pell-mell down the staircase.

The banisters  pulled  her palms  back with  their waxy residue and the ball

at the bottom looked grey-black with grease. This place has gone downhill,

she  thought,  descending.  But she  went out  onto the front step  and the

mahogany door was flaming — it was that time of day — and the brass lion

knocker,  brilliant, was shooting out  gold spears.  All around, the red brick

of  the houses  was deepening.  For the sake of these twelve minutes or so,

perhaps, one could  tolerate the  blanched mornings  and the puny electric

nights;  the  dust;  and  critters;  the  drunken  singing  of  the wind  in  the

passage;  the  pious  crooning  of  the  neighbours. The waiting. Her other

self, the slow  Muzzy, ambled  out to take the air. She looked up and down

the  street,  laid  the flat  of her  hand to her  forehead, against the slanting

light.  Another  fine  day  tomorrow,  she  drawled, headlocking a memory.

Brood

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              After two unhappy marriages, my sister settled 
              on a man who marked their mid-life union 
              by retraining as a vermin operative, 
              the neon strips in his kitchen having turned caramel 
              with cockroaches. He mastered the mechanics 
              and theory of quenching little lives that flickered 
              briefly in strange environs. And noted, for instance, 
              that when roaches infested a disused cooker,
              it was always the babies who emerged first
              when you ignited the gas. The gas was,
              that if you left it burning, little roarers kept on 
              coming, and in increasing sizes, till the fat 
              daddy-roaches finally left the ship. 
              He studied weevils which flourished 
              in flour. And silver fish that slivered
              at human approach. Rat-trapping 
              was daunting at first, then a thrill. 
              I heard that housewives would call him out
              to halt fledgling tits which had flown 
              into summer kitchens, twitching behind fridges;
              pigeons plumped in chimneys; squirrels 
              nesting in lofts, all high hiss and spit. 
              He used to say, my sister’s husband, 
              as he polished his leather belt on a Saturday, 
              ready for church (the belt had a fine silver buckle 
              which shone and jingled), that pests are only 
              creatures who happen to have strayed 
              into alien territory. It made me hope my sister 
              pleased him, and fitted in; was protective of her brood.

Publishing credits

winding down: POEM (Summer 2017)

Muzzy McIntyre: No. 25 (Shearsman Books)

Brood: Infinite Rust

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