Land Is History (Ongoing Collection Published In Print Poetry)

Land Is History

Is a past pitman. Father, a nailmaker
whose strong coffin nails  
stout fastened the woods  
grain swish as land without

a skeleton to hold its’ skin.

Both, like open cast places.
Redundancy has ripped
old features from their faces,
old skulls from beneath their skins.

Redundancy within weeks drained
Dearne from arteries, smoothed
disused canals from cheeks,
wetlands asset-stripped from eyes.

And children sit on father’s knee

as on a hill hear how
men made hills
a sack of land
a weight of meaning

Land no longer propped  
by miners hands
into history.

Chosen by Barnaby Poetry Trail to appear in a shop window.


There was this palm of veins.
The palm rolling in fisted
coal gravel soil till it hurt.

Hurt was greater when
they could not squeeze earth,
could not place each foot ahead
above other, pinioned by gust.

When glacier came
she was not even a gleam,
a mote. She could not even
be said. Nothing was waiting.

Now the stretch-marks
cut into every rock
show her said;
her weathering tunnel;
panting, muscle clench
sweat, spine arch,
faint head or tail
into light at exit,
at entrance,
come towards
and in her.

And she stopped
and she thought
if I go any further

I shall die
but anxious hand behind her
prodded her in back,
delivered her,
posted bloody bundle
into cold hands
in morning before work,
laid there on mat,
on door­step
of a small rolled stone cottage
in village of Dent, Dentdale, Yorkshire

Copyright Paul Brookes from ‘Rats For Love: The Book’, published 1989


It was on a Wednesday.
Ground black, shiny.
Sky, grey, floats.
Clouds bubble.
Something tight in my chest
sung from a solar plexus
tense tufted a beaver’s dam,
snaps chewed twigs.
Wind smooth flapping rigging.
I stepped into her.
She rolled. I lost, almost lost
myself in grey water
underneath her straining skin.
As she settled

I took rudder reins called sheets.

She swung herself out
Her rig smiled when
wind took control and pushed.
Wood welcomed my face,
welcomed combing breeze through dancing hair.

I smiled.
Tufts of grass on
waters side-stepped

in a shine and out my eyes.
Bubbles burst, clouds

span away,
dam broke,
snapping twigs
stepped to one side.
Sky fell into a light,
a skin,
a solar plexus above
no underneath but a flapping heart
rolled grey,

swinging lost,
almost lost, breezing.

It began to rain like horses settling.

Copyright Paul Brookes from ‘Working Title’ published 1989</p


When this brain Is medically dead . will I pray I locked the door?

Or made presentable by morticians knife fret I left the Box plugged in;

Then lowered so others cast first soil or flame-grilled to fine urn ash tell myself I left the oven on;

Or gladly leave this legacy a real reminder how I used to be.

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