Silver Branch series

Paul Brookes

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Paul Brookes is a shop assistant. He lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. Paul's first play was performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull.  His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018), The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), and As Folk Over Yonder (Afterworld Books, 2019).

 

Paul is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow - Interviews, book reviews and  challenges.  He had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 'The Verb' and videos of his 'Self Isolation' sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions. His most recent poetry collection is Wonderland in Alice, plus other ways of seeing" (JCStudio Press, 2021). 

In November 2021, Paul was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the Silver Branch Project for the poem 'Our Deep Time'. He was also nominated for Pushcart in 2020 by Fevers of the Mind and in 2018 for the Rhysling.

"In my writing I aim to entertain above all else. This includes encouraging a reader to look at things differently. If my words get inside the reader, disturb and excite and inspire, then I am happy. I try to make it an easy read on top, with different undercurrents beneath. "

A Heady Burnt

 

Fragrance

means autumn's

soft footfalls can be heard.

Sun's blaze warms my back

as I cut dry grass,

Autumn breaks out,

a rumble overhead.

A Silhouette

Winter is a silhouette.

A definition by outline,

colour bled into starkness

a flat surface

as if the world is ragged paper.

Shy the inexhaustible shy

of Winter, worry away the rest.

Wear worn decay the rest

hunkers into itself

as if afeard, afeard for itself

Our Deep Time

From summer to winter,

from brightness to loss,

follow the memory site of the dead.

 

Chasms gape, open mouthed,

clefts of wounds that do not heal;

rocks hold a dissonance.

 

There are no constellations

in these starless rivers:

black flow decided by fall.

 

Hear rush in the underland, carve

of space by water's progress;

it discovers as it sculpts.

 

Sometimes rock is parched

Leaves chambers of echo:

bones and burial gifts return.

Midwinter Is

all back to core and root,

scrapes off summer's fat and muscle,

whitens the bones without leaves,

gust polishes dry skulls into mirrors,

bones into icy water,

a hollowed cavity

scratched out.

Midwinter is a teenage lad

on his haunches -

dead rabbit head,

it's fur tufted

as grass on a round hill,

in one hand, penknife cold in other,

catches the blade on the bone

and scrapes away the tufts,

gouges out the orbital cavities,

back to the bowls,

excavates the hollows,

oozes cherry red blood.

The Severity

Hair tied back  tight so bone

can be seen through thin pale skin.

Angular acute. All edges.

Winter elbows out warmth.

Sharply treats flesh like it treats metal.

Uptight. Ramrod straight. Suspends warmth in icicles.

No difference between life and death.

Winter has no heartbeat,

is a boneyard, slaughterhouse kind.

Extract from 'The Dead'.

I like light to come to my eyes gradually. I would stand on the slagheap at midday and watch the fleeting clouds pass their shadows over the pit built solidly below. It reminded me of wind gusting through cornfields. White clouds moving over hills in the Lake District or the Peak. I sat on the edge of the manmade hill and saw the different shadows ripple over the great washer building, over the cylindrical slurry tanks move flat across the concrete bunkers where lay the remains of unused sand, gravel and lime. It reminded me of the darkness a few days before when I was on nightshift at this place. Freezing till the veins of my hands stood up purple and ice encrusted in the ground. It made the concrete more hurtful when you fell like when I delivered the post one Christmas in Royston and slipped, the weight of the bag hauling me down to push and prise open the sprung letter boxes put the letter through so your whole hand went inside the house and then quick out for the lid to slam shut in your face. The shadows were never what they seemed and as the long night became morning, without getting lighter, you imagined bushes were people: old men slumped down after working the pit, gentlemen in cloaks, or women in jeans so during the day real people seemed like those shadows. Never what they seemed. I always thought whoever I met wanted to hurt me.

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