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Poem 1 - Imagine a forest...

The first draft poem for Matthew Sweeney's Guardian Unlimited workshop:


Imagine a forest
Small and modest
Where trees blow
And winds grow
And each rustle
Or hedgerow’s bustle
Is not deer so sleek
But a mythical beast.

A twig’s snap and break
Is the chimera’s wake,
The sudden birdcall above
A gremlin or lycanthrope,
Some echoed distant shriek
A wailing mandrake,
And the breeze through your hair
Shows a unicorn’s there.

What to do with this place
That you’ve stumbled across?
Two options: stay, or run off,
But beware that you’re already
So far in that your hopes of leaving
This miniature yet devilishly
Twisting maze of wood
are quickly wearing thin.

It’s growing dark. You’ve had enough?
Well be my guest to fish yourself out.
If you’re down on your luck
I suggest listening out
For the groan of a wood maiden
In an oak’s moan and flexing.
They’re at one with the forest,
You see, so be at one with their feelings.

Look. The moon’s wide eye is settling.
Its cold and wet and beautiful, but you’re
More worried about what’s out there,
I’m reckoning.
Well if you hear the grunt of beasts,
As if mixed with men grumbling or speaking,
And if you hear it while asleep, it’s centaurs. They creep
In this forest, so small and deep. There. Just waiting.

Comments

Cailleach said…
That's a nice mixture of myth and reality, and the unicorn's appearance seems almost natural. It's more about the workings of fear, isn't it? That's what fairytales do, rationalise our fears?

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About the Author

Welcome to the website of the English poet and critic, Ben Wilkinson.
Ben was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He received his first degree from the University of Sheffield, and holds an MA and PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers' Award
His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.
He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. You can find many of his reviews on this site.
To contact Ben about readings, workshops, or for any other enquiries, you can drop him a line at benwilko(at sign)gmail.com. Unfortunately, I am not able to consider unsolicited requests from authors for book reviews.

You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenWilko85 - and on Facebook.

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