What's Happening?

'Border 7' by Pauline Kirk

Compelling, chillingly plausible and a cracking good read if you like your English dystopia authentic and local and with a touch of Zamyatin and Orwell. I thought I spotted Manchester and York though am willing to be corrected – while the capital retains its name. Certainly the North of the book has resonances with its own former border history and reiving past and with the strength and courage of the those deemed to live in the outer reaches: those who, apparently, need pacifying and containing. In an England hundred and fifty years hence, government and democracy hardly exist and Corporations have taken control by offering apparent freedom after the deposing of the Junta. The miles high sky-scraping blocks are run as self-contained and all-encompassing microcosms for the benefit of the companies that own them. Conformity is demanded and maintained with the threat of the world of warlords and chaotic subsistence-level living outside. However, it seems, the propaganda inside the '…

Spring 2020

This was my poem published in Dream Catcher, 29.
Things have moved on since then.

To May, late under cloud

Reading the news, I watch through the window
how you sit up, shake your hair, slough peat slag
over breasts, between thighs; overslept,

blowzy ladies smock in the sump of your pit.
Here, a sexton beetle, dislodged from your nostril
where bees buffet musk of catkins, finds carrion.

Your bush, untamed thicket of thorn beyond
my fence, spikes spare blossom as you stretch,
arms high, dripping slow-worms from your fingers

and yawn wide-mouthed after a long sleep.
Later, digging, I hear a lone cuckoo; back from across
the Sahara, it slips an egg in your nest of hair.

Yet, though I blunder, astonished at the snipe
wooing his mate with a whoop of feather-fanning
(your belly laugh), still, I hear you blub at the loss

of beetle and moth, bereft but for orange tips
foraging the margins of my vegetable patch.
And when you lurch, drunk, over the mill lade,

frock rucked, spilling intoxicating ma…