pausing on a rock
in a stream
bold and fragile
of a weeping willow
the deep shade of river
in the shallows
the last sparks
of a day passing
So many down here! Loving the pack!
Loving the dark and the drip-drip-drip
far from the air and the wires full of fire
and the bright white places of food and fear;
from guns and gas and break-back traps
and the shriek of the neck-snapping cat!
Coming up through the pipes,
through the gaps and the cracks,
– out of the sacks in the hold of the ships –
oh, the quick black leap of the fleas!
Oh, the sleeping grin on the thin blue man
and the drone and the rattle of flies!
And up! through the wide warm yawn of the open sewer
And in! through the slap of the flap in the door –
– the tap-tap-tap on the cold-tiled floor –
to the tall pink folk on their two soft feet –
the soft pink folk and their sweet green meat
and their rooms full of shadows and heat!
There’s nothing that we wouldn’t eat!
pausing on a rock and Rats! are by Alison Lock and Clare Shaw respectively. They are the title poems of pamphlets in a series produced by poet and artist Karen Little in her trailer home. Little created the original hand painted covers. The project is a fundraiser for animal welfare charities.
Alison Lock is a poet and author living in West Yorkshire. She finds inspiration in the moorlands and the natural environment of the South Pennines, which is often reflected in her writing. Her most recent poetry collection is Revealing the Odour of Earth (2017), Calder Valley Poetry.
Clare Shaw was born in Burnley. She has three poetry collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem; and Head On (2012), which is, according to the Times Literary Supplement, ‘fierce … memorable and visceral’. Her third collection, Flood, was published in June 2018. She is a Royal Literary Fellow, and a regular tutor for the Writing Project, the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation. She also works as a mental health trainer and consultant.
Note from the Poetry Editor: These are the title poems in a special project. Karen Little produced a group of pamphlets by nine poets, creating original covers in her own distinctive artstyle from her trailer van on the South Coast of England. Each illustration reacts with and amplifies themes from the title poems. This is a unique series put together by a very individual maker and writer and occupies a place in poetry equivalent to Outsider Art.
POETRY EXPO has been publishing work from every pamphlet in the series. The list includes Katherine Woolley, Gillian Prew and Clare Shaw.
All money made from the poetry pamphlets goes to animal charities. Order direct from Karen Little at firstname.lastname@example.org