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Andy Nuttall



the poet

Andy Nuttall hails from Lancashire and is now settled in the North East of England where he's a social worker. A late bloomer (his first published poem appeared in Acumen in September 2020), he lives with Susan and pup Fraser. Andy intends to use all the remaining ink in his pen to write many more poems around diverse themes.

the poems

The Baker of Idlib

00:00 / 00:40

            In Idlib Province a small knot of dough

            Has risen slowly to its oven spring,

            Delicately chambered and crusted gold.

            This day they will again have bread to break

            Together in the village and the children

            Who are left to play in the rubble

            Of their lives will savour a morsel of comfort.

            What will we give them next to dream of, I wonder?

            Perhaps the spot where blood smears stone

            And a man – a baker – lies dying, still proving himself.


00:00 / 01:21

            Down the long colonnade of limes

            The plumed galea of centuries

            Swept by in martial lines,

            Forty miles south of Arbeia

            The great fort of the Arabs

            Where the wall meets the sea and sky.

            At Pons Teys, or the crossing ford,

            The Asturian cavalry paused,

            Surveyed the coursing water and led

            Their sandalled ponies through the shallows.

            Stood by the weathered soldiers

            Clasped their woollen cloaks a little closer,

            Unknowing why like loosened stones

            They had been flung so hard and far

            Into this northern frigidarium.

            In the northlands of Brigantes;

            Old realm of Cartimandua:

            Regina, loyal subject of Rome;

            Cunning vixen; self-indulgent snake

            And, just for good measure,

            That treacherous Celtic bitch.

            Tacitus spat her name through curled,

            Orator’s lips two millennia ago.

            To the victor echo the spoils;

            To the literate, as always, the last word.


00:00 / 01:48

            She makes her daily rounds for daily bread

            As the turning world takes up us all

            In its vast and intricate continuance.

            Labour has become for her the beginning

            And the end of all that is worth doing.

            Life after all is habit forming.

            She might be otherwise were it not.

            Were it not for the iron of her control

            Creasing back some semblance of order

            And form her determination might falter.

            Enter a bright, long-limbed, precocious boy,

            Flooding her world with effervescent joy,

            His treasure grows as he does notching

            Up the door frame, his worth accumulating.

            Lost to time the years work free of her raw hands

            Like a child’s spinning-top set loose.

            Gone the glee of that colour and movement,

            Of the youthful race run rapid to white water

            And where it slows to a stop in a still pool

            Much is undone. His milky adolescence

            Has thickened, curdled and gone sour.

            Doors open and close. Yard leaves scurry.

            She is stooped now in the galley kitchen,

            Sifting through a pile of strangers’ washing,

            Wishing for the weight of something nameless

            In her head to shift, to be set right:

            His appearing quite unexpectedly

            In time for supper, smiling down on her

            As fresh as the daffodils in her cut-glass vase,

            Each yellowing heart wrung out for him.

Publishing credits

The Baker of Idlib: Acumen (Issue 98)

Cartimandua / Iron: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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