Karen Dennison

Poet and artist


Talus – a poem of mine


It has no voice, refuses to neigh
or nicker. Horse-blood doesn’t flow
into my own, its weight lost to my hand,
cold nuzzling my palm. Grey-white
does not transmute to dapple-brown.
The unnamed horse remains unnamed.

If I were a bone biographer could I read
its pumice-like surface, determine year of death,
whether stallion or mare? Would I understand
from indents, misshapen places, forces
pressed upon it; thickened and roughened
where muscles connected?

How much history is lost to marrow, how much
scrawled inside coral-shaped tunnels?
Could they tell me how it grazed on wild thyme
on Mongolian steppes, licked salt from dried-out lakes;
if it died of starvation or old age or at the teeth
of wolves that crept down the mountains at night?

Are its skeleton keys still there on the ground
where I found them, displayed like a museum exhibit
missing this stolen piece of puzzle, this anklebone?

Karen Dennison (published in Obsessed with Pipework No.70)

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An Essex Parish by David Canning

P1080476An Essex Parish is a sequence of poems that tell a story of murder and redemption, reflecting modern events against Essex’s religious and violent Anglo-Saxon history.

This first collection by David Canning includes his mountain poems in The Eternal Mountain, which draws on his experiences as a climber and mountaineer, and in A History of the Troubles, he explores relationship, family, love and loss.”

I designed the cover for this fabulous collection – this involved manipulating one of Dave’s photos (of Walton-on-the-Naze pier) in Photoshop. One of Dave’s poems is featured below.

The book is available from Amazon and from Red Lion Books in Colchester and a launch is being held 17 September 8pm at Piatto Cafe in Colchester.

A History of the Troubles

I’m in Derry, propping up the bar,
Obvious as a watch-tower, nervous as a look-out;
Bottles crash and pints of Guinness
Twitch and jig to the click and boom of a bodhrán;
And as the folk singer’s mural song
Ricochets off walls and table-tops,
Smoke twists from the barrel of her mouth.

A Tricolour, ceiling-stained to three shades of rust,
Drops a thread into my lap, so I follow its twisted path
To a one-room cottage in Ballybofey, Donegal,
Where children play on its earthen floor,
And a woman grubs for potatoes in the peat,
Hums the song her mother taught her to work by,
Baby suckling at her breast – my father’s father:

Who ran, first from Michael Collins, then from my Gran,
The shadow parked on the corner of my heart,
A car with blacked-out windows watching my childhood;
But there were no fifes or braid, or proud rattling parades,
No glorious fucking revolution in our house,
Tense as a twitchy, checkpoint trigger finger,
Just the white flag of my eyes rising to the punch.

David Canning