Bitter phoenix pills:
Promises of better times
In a gaudy box
As if mere colour
Had the power of the sea:
Restlessness to calm
By William Taylor
Is this my Earth
1. Is this my Earth,
This dust and dirt
Under which I have buried my heaven?
My fingers turn relentlessly:
Their only will to stretch down
And scrabble for its filthy roots
In a futile grasp at rotten time
I feel there is something
I have forgotten
Yet, a tree cannot become a seed
And the brown of the earth
Will never be the reflection of sky on sea
From those childhood holidays
2. I build a house on this Earth
Gore at it with foundations,
Call it stable,
Paint the front door and close it shut
3. Is this key not the key to my door?
I painted it blue some
Years ago now
It reminded me of before
Is this my heaven
The earth upon which my
House is anchored
And wilts into the ground?
It does not grow,
It bears no fruit
Though I whispered to it at night and
Said it would be my future:
Told it lies
I even left a padlock on that funny bridge in Paris,
Put up the wallpaper everyone wanted,
Pretended I liked eating
4. The dirt is still there,
Underneath my fingernails;
I scrape it out with the key
Which no longer fits in the door
“Had it been built on a cliff,
This house would have subsided long ago”
That’s why the door
Was painted blue
A sort of compromise
But no matter now
5. I can’t remember why.
By Lydia Sargent
Paper & Ink
Strange, you said,
that we should base our lives on books.
On dusty spines of old tree pulp,
Lavish such love
of thick paper
When all around,
their leafy ancestors stir.
The air is thick with flying thoughts
to snare and press
To be swallowed
by the flapping mouths
Until they are filled
with more than just paper and ink.
The best smell, I told you then,
was the smell of paperbacks.
By Jessica Syposz
‘Changed the Way I See You’
An imagined scenario is realised.
Before I heard about it, I saw colour.
After, I blinked and saw grey.
I can never look at that person again.
I thought it was easy to label bullies and victims.
Now I see:
They’re the Bully
I’m the Purveyor of Justice.
I challenged, they denied, I went to the police.
I am the same. They have changed.
Now more mature
My grey eyes are open.
By Laura Simmons
Running the Wire
There is wafting in the wind a smell
Of vaporized Jew and shimmering pine.
The war-poster saviour
Grey-headed grandmother aged sixty-five
Bends down in the yard and with her pick
Brushes her knotted spine.
Beyond in bright round eyes and grilled faces
The stolen vodka and schnapps
Has arrived, glass bottles ringing
Like lorries of crates of bells.
They clink with laughter.
Leathery thighs cord. The handlers go.
This is a chance.
In a moment there is no movement of things.
Her gaze is set dead on the fence
Whence pine she will not smell whispers.
Her nostrils strain and flare
Like a Kubelwagen exhaust or tiger armour
Blossoming like a flower firefly-touched.
The dogs freeze. In spotlight
Their tails are rigid.
Their teeth glisten.
Hope on hope as corpse on corpse
That they have not drunk too much.
By Joshua Teo
A Sonnet to the Raspberries
Encased by a membrane
They hold on without falling
And bend the stems until they crack
In the still Christmas air.
Their leaves are already curling,
Pock-marked by the light.
And still they hold secrets
In their blood-red hearts.
Silently they hang suspended
Imposing in their stillness.
Waiting to be picked
Or else to char and be
Reunited with the bare earth.
By Georgie Tindale
Each week The Student Review publishes a collection of poems about a particular topic or theme. For this week’s theme, or to submit a poem, go here.