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Phillip Crymble

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the poet

Phillip Crymble is a physically disabled poet from Belfast now living in Atlantic Canada. A poetry editor at The Fiddlehead, his work has been published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The North, Magma, The London Magazine, The Irish Times, The Forward Book of Poetry, and elsewhere. Not Even Laughter, his first book-length collection, was released by Salmon Poetry in 2016.

the poems

North American Birds

00:00 / 01:21
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A world is firstly made of names and labels —

what the nascent heart is desperate to possess.

For you, my son, the chickadees and finches


at the feeding table — nesting in the eaves 

and calling each to each atop our backyard 


maple — filled the empty spaces in your head.

Next came the illustrations — colour plates 

you memorized by rote — the simple work


of saying like a spell — a song of invocation.

All winter long our little house made warm


by ornithophily — a reverence of words —

the age-old human dream of flight. These

days toy trucks and robots dance like planets


in your mind. Bird boy, must you leave 

so soon — sit down with me and stay awhile.

Mealworm

00:00 / 00:34
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Brought home

from school and cast aside —  

discarded in the mud 


room — left for me 

to find by accident  


weeks later. Confined  

like one of Bluebeard’s 

wives — interred  


beneath a substrate 

that the kids made 


out of oats and sliced 

up orange rinds — 

the mealworm — newly 


calcified — abides —  

waits out its aftertime.

Forcing House

00:00 / 01:15
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It never worked the way we planned. Our oil

furnace always ran too rich. The winter

days were damp, and though a grand, romantic

gesture, living by the sea was desperate.


Socks and underpants on radiators,

heating pipes — wet woollens, windows clouded

white. A forcing house of laundered clothes,

the boiler ticked and bubbled like amalgam


in a crucible. The jars of potted jam

and marmalade we kept in store. Mornings 

were the worst of all — the lino kitchen floor 

as cold as stone. Each day we trundled down 


for tea and toast you checked the letter-box —

as if the news from home might warm us.

Publishing credits

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S h a r e

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