Saturday’s poem in this week’s Guardian by Roger Philip Dennis is even-tempered and observational. Its language reminds me of my poetry, although it is – to not put too fine a point on it – more accomplished, and certainly more assured. (I would never have thought to write a sentence like: Even the song thrush noteless. Well, maybe not until now.)

With a mixture of the narrative and sensuousness, Corkscrew Hill Photo contains that magical thing called metre, and just enough intrigue to warrant a few reads.


Corkscrew Hill Photo


All afternoon she counts the sounds

until the fly-specked room crackles with silence.

Even the song thrush noteless. A thick drizzle

trickles rivulets down the window pane,

smears distance on fields, curtains-off hills

and greens the sagged thatch,

aches in the creaking gate and screws

watering eye to misting glass:

a hearse skids slowly up the muddy lane,

blurs in droplets on a spider-web,

spins sideways into darkness …


…rattling cough of cattle, rusty tractor,

hinge of paint-peeled door, gears

of cars forced to back in one-track lanes,

buzz of pylons spanning the hum

of outboards in the yachtsmen’s creek,

yelp of kids in the converted Mill,

the soft click-click of a camera-shutter

up Corkscrew Hill …


The casement steams with sunset. She picks herself

up off the floor, mouth dry as mourner’s grin.

Her arm reaches, shakes, reaches again,

gathers the clattering jar from the shelf.



The landlord frowns, sniffing cat,

moth-ball, mould. She squares her back

on his fine view – the duck bob,

seagull clutter, gape of lime kiln.

“And a nip of lovage,”

before he can point her

the off-licence hatch in the yard,

“to keep out the damp!”

and smiles spittle.

Her flagon scrapes a scroll of varnish

the length of the bar’s stripped pine,

past bleating townies, past the regular’s chair

and the corner where the photographer

sits draining her valley

through a tilted lens.


One thought on “Week #19 Corkscrew Hill Photo: a poem

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