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Gaynor Kane



the poet

Gaynor Kane from Belfast, Northern Ireland, came to writing late in life, having finished an Open University BA (Hons) degree with a creative writing module. She's since had poems, fiction, creative non-fiction and visual art published in journals and anthologies in the UK, Europe and the US. As well as performing at several literary events – The Belfast Book Festival, Open House Festival and Cheltenham Poetry Festival among these –  Gaynor's organised, curated and hosted literary events for various other festivals. She's also judged for the North Carolina Poetry Society, and was guest sub-editor of Issue Two of The Storms: A Journal of Poetry, Prose and Visual Art. Her poetry is published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

the poems

The Lock

00:00 / 02:11

                        I can’t resist the challenge 

                            of working out your code. 

                        Listen to the click, click, click 

                            of teeth nipping past the pin. 

                        Listen for the tock of the clock, 

                            as the dials rotate. 

                        Listen for ticks of numbers falling 

                            in place and your combo clunk. 

                        You meet my nose with coldness 

                            and the scent of blood, 

                        newborns, and his collection 

                            of copper coins. Mother’s gold 

                        charm bracelet with clover, wishing well, 

                            clog and key. Or her grandfather’s 

                        old toolbox, a cacophony of giants: 

                            chisels, claw-hammer, hacksaw, caulk.

                        Your colour has me thinking 

                            of boulders along the edge 

                        of Belfast Lough, where O’Neill’s red 

                            hand alighted after being cleaved 

                        and hurled from sea to land. 

                            Or mountains of fossilised rocks, 

                        stacked at the docks. Coal carted, 

                            then scooped in spade loads into sacks.

                        You are tugboat shaped, 

                            but my thoughts go large to Arrol gantries 

                        and liners nesting within skeletal stocks, 

                            until fully formed. Rivets struck 

                        like rhythmic heartbeats. Chocks lodged 

                            in place, to stop them slipping out to sea, 

                        until waters broke and ships 

                            were birthed by tugboat midwives.

                        Everything was monochrome, chalk, smoke, 

                            firebrick, slack. Dunchers and dungarees, 

                        grubby hands and faces at clocking-off, 

                            men’s boots still gleaming with pride. 

                        Pride passed down paternally, 

                            reflecting on shiny surfaces, 

                        until the yard was boat-less, barren, 

                            and the gates all locked.


1) a flat container, usually paper;

2) something that envelops;

3) a natural enclosing.

00:00 / 01:45

                        I have felt hand-cut paper, folded;

                        held letters of the heart. 

                        shut feelings away; sealed 

                        by cardboard button & green twine, 

                        soft-stamped beeswax & gummed saliva.

                        I’ve safeguarded policies on punishment, 

                        the Eton mess of government contracts, 

                        procedures for lubricants & movements  

                        & bills for climate conferences & parties. 

                        I have been the surface for a botched plan 

                        over lunchtime drinks; sometimes binned 

                        & other times brought into being.

                        I’ve been a tube of long thin glass 

                        encapsulating gas, creating neon light

                        & illuminating bars with my brightness. 

                        I have been blindness of a field covered 

                        in snow. Blue ceramic of tiles, holding 

                        the reflective mirror of a pool.

                        I have been the hedge squaring a lawn. 

                        I’ve been the breeze buoying 

                        a dancing kite. I’ve had a window 

                        & seen the curve of the earth.

                        I might have been a musty prickled husk

                        of Autumn’s conker or chalky 

                        sedimentary shell, cradling yolk & albumen.

                        In my first life I was an emperor’s invitation 

                        within unbroken pottery.


00:00 / 00:37

                                      is a pile 

                                      of chalky bones, 

                                      dusted off and laid 

                                      in formation. 

                                      Fine drill bits 

                                      whirr as holes are bored 

                                      and granules gathered 

                                      for DNA testing.  

                                      A life 

                                      takes shape, 

                                      a skeleton reverse read 

                                      like tea leaves.

                                      Smashed skull—

                                      all the lines 

                                      of a messy story—


                                      the puzzle pieces 

                                      come together 

                                      and somewhere 

                                      a family 

                                      hear a knock 

                                      at their door.

Publishing credits

The Lock: Venus in Pink Marble (The Hedgehog Poetry Press)

Envelope / Hope: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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