J L M Morton
Winner of the inaugural Laurie Lee Prize for Writing in 2022, J L M Morton is a writer and poet whose work has been published internationally in journals including The Poetry Review, The Rialto and most recently in the multidisciplinary ethnography Living With Water: Everyday encounters and liquid connections. Her latest book is Glos Mythos – a collaboration with satirist Emma Kernahan and illustrator Bill Jones. Her first full collection, Red Handed, will be published by Broken Sleep Books in 2024.
An Inheritance of Water
When I die the chemical signature in my bones
will tell of Thames and Severn, Churn and Frome,
marrow of upland pastures, mill race and outflow.
An ancestral line of dockers loading and unloading cargo.
A spring-fed apple tree that transpires deep in a valley
sheds fruits that only wasps will feed on.
And I want to close my ears to the endless sound
of buckets emptying and refilling on the wheel.
Is this what we call beauty? Is this
a place my hand can hold, still reaching for the world?
None of this is clean but it connects. Big enough
and continuous to contain all of our lives, our deaths
are carried in my blood and breath is carried by water.
Rain is another name for love.
Life Cycle of the
‘ … it is worthwhile recalling that from the medieval era,
one of the colours most prized by the crown, church
and nobility in Europe for their finest fabrics
was that of carmine or deep crimson.’
~ Carlos Marichal Salinas ~
An egg breaks on the pad of a prickly pear somewhere
in Oaxaca where the scale insects’ livid bodies
mass and crackle in the sun. Emerging, a crawler nymph
clusters with the softness of her siblings
to feed in the downy blanket – explorers edging
to the brink of the known world.
Nymph throws out a long wisp of wax,
a thread to catch a ride on the wind, lifting and
landing on the terra incognita of a new cactus pad.
Her claim is staked with a stab of her beak.
Cochineal sups the juices, sees off predators
– lacewings, ladybirds, ants – with the bright surprise
of her body. Fat, fierce and full of poison. She
has detached her wings. Has no need of legs.
Holding her colour quietly in trust – she waits
for the male to eat his fill, to mate and die.
Scraped away at ninety days, her body is laid out
and dried, then pulverised. Destined for dominion.
An Inheritance of Water: Raceme (Issue 13)
Life Cycle of the Cochineal Beetle (c.1788): Poetry Review
(Vol. 112, Issue 4)
On Doubt / A Pair of Blue Eyes: Dust Poetry Magazine (Issue 9)
On Doubt /
A Pair of Blue Eyes
After Thomas Hardy
and Emma Gifford
Meeting changed our strata,
the way only a storm at the edge
of an ocean can do.
The way a slump of salt water
in a black cliff hole is a wet metronome
for desire and regret.
Blue milk sea and yellow gorse –
it is possible to be ambivalent
and beautiful at the same time.
Everything becomes an image
of our disharmonic foldings.
You hanging from the clifftop
in search of my jewels.
I should have guessed the houses
were crappy behind the waterfront
where the old lanes run deep, away
from the wind, under the pines.
Stacked tyres, fly-tipped white goods.
We are here for this
moment and we fuck
it up. Instead of making
like gregarious worms
in a world of Sabelleria reefs,
honeycombed in our detritus.