Briony Collins

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Briony Collins is a writer based in North Wales. Her debut poetry and prose books, Blame it on Me and All That Glisters, were published by Broken Sleep Books. They are set to release her next instalment of poetry, The Birds, The Rabbits, The Trees, in April 2023. Currently, Briony manages her time between running Cape Magazine and working on her PhD at Bangor University, where she also lectures.

Briony's work is very special to us at Black Bough poetry. Her poem 'Sunset' was the first poem to feature on the Dylan Thomas Birthplace podcast (run by Frequency House and Black Bough Poetry) and she has hosted global event @TopTweetTuesday on Twitter twice.

Newborn

 

Petals of your fingers around mine;

Hibiscus closing around moonlight.

Woman

 

I am not a person, only

a Eucharist, a youthful visage

for men to eat, their sacramental feast,

but the femininity of blood

is my affinity with beasts.

apex

 

we grow dizzy

            where our spines touch

soft black flickering in the shades of eyes

clenching our clothes; fricatives in flesh

 

                                     tonight is our apex

 

            we lose ourselves lumbering

to undo each other

            knowing we are not friends

and never will be

                                    and never were

The sun falls from the sky

and white Wall Street continues chasing its tail knowing that somewhere,

in a garden in Jackson Ward, a lily’s petals are beginning to curl, to freeze.

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 Katrina, Briony's Mum

Not Going Yet

 

For all the things we were going to do:

stitch footsteps across black beaches,

catch planets in the eye of a telescope,

sing whale-songs where the sea is warm,

say dirty words in fancy restaurants,

dance against the backdrop of volcanoes,

live without the curtain of your eyelids

closing at the end of the show.

For all the things we were going to do,

tell me, tell me you’re not going yet.

Harbour

I miss her smell – sand & tobacco,

wool & sea salt, sweetness of moss –

all the notes of my mother’s body.

 

I miss her fingers – each shoreline

of her skin met with a crescent

bay of dirt she treasured there.

 

I miss her arms – a harbour opening,

a safe place for me to wreck myself

against the glaciers of growing up –

 

the way I craved them to hold me

on the morning she left herself,

no longer my marina,

but as blue as the sea.

Montbretias

 

The most magnificent hair I will ever see

catches sunlight and gifts it back as copper,

Montbretias bloom against your skin,

roots that burgeon deeper than blood.

 

The worst part is knowing it no longer exists,

the soft decay of petals burrowing,

breaking themselves against the dark earth,

fungus grey and salt blue, a wildflower

cooling to dust.

Sunset

All you ask for on your last Earth night is a glass of water.

I hope you know what it really means – life thirsts to fill you.

            Stay with me. Please.

 

How the skin cracks around your eyes, blackening with

the slow dilation of forever. How the milk of your bones

 

pours and empties, drowns you from the inside out.

How brittle you become in the pallid echoes of moonlight.

 

            Don’t go. Not just yet.

There is so much of this world left to share together:

how we will go to Rome and stand at the feet of Gods,

 

Hadrian’s Venus, Saturnalia until sunset, Jupiter burning.

The depth of history you will miss as you cascade into it.

 

How at Ostia Antica we dream of long-dead stars reviving in

the amphitheatre, chips of stonework, ovation of ghosts.

 

            Applause and awake.

 

All you ask for on your last Earth night is a glass of water.

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Briony on writing:

There is one ideal I aim for above all else in my writing: accessibility. It was hard getting into writing from a working-class background because resources were either unobtainable or totally beyond my understanding. I didn’t have a good education growing up. If it weren’t for the local library and my father’s insistence that I only listen to music of legendary lyricists – Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Fish, and so on – I may not have turned out this way. And, by this way, I mean my complete immersion into the world of writing.

I learned poetry by switching out the five songs I could fit on my £9.99 MP3 player from Tesco to imagistic music that filled my ears with ideas on the way home from school. I discovered prose much later, after many years of reading books in the library after school. Many of them weren’t even good, I just wanted to consume words in whatever way I could. Truthfully, if I was capable of understanding better material at the time, I would have fast-tracked my writing abilities. This is something I’ve found goes unmentioned to a lot of young people learning to write: without an understanding of the craft, no one knows what the hell the Greats were on about.

This forms the foundation of my primary goal for my own work. I hope to always produce work that is accessible to people at different stages in their writing journeys. There should be an ease about the words on the page that play upon beginner’s minds. Texture and depth are vital for those already ankle-deep in their creative pools. And for those fully submerged? Layers of technique and subtext that will entertain on both creative and literary levels. This isn’t to say I always succeed. Sometimes I don’t, but it is my firm belief that a writer ought to try, for the sake of those young people with nothing but a library card and a £9.99 MP3 player to get them started.

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Extra-terrestrial

 

aren’t we all gamblers

he likes lotto cards

and discolouring fists with mandibles

 

is it self-harm

if

           I don’t know myself

 

the wall is hard against my skull

sunlight bleached space-blue carpets

bright Prawn Nebula

 

aren’t we all

if

          I stop making any sense

this is the first time

out of body

           

            loosens

gravity

 

he holds the top of a Cola bottle

in front of me

focus on the colour, the shape

 

bright Prawn Nebula

on space-blue carpets

the walls are stars

 

aren’t we all gamblers

is it self-harm

out of body