Transparent Words - Poetry


4 Poems by Mandy Pannett







The hoop of night rolls out like turf across a humid field.

Downtown the wolf in sackcloth lopes,

devours graffiti on the bridge.



Across such lanes the pilgrims crept as penitents in grief.

They’d claw their way to paradise,

with gongs and drums bash out their faith. 



In Somerfields the walls are bright with oranges and greens.

Beneath the asphalt in the car park 

dust in a plague pit stirs.



A wild swan dies of pestilence, somewhere

a rattle shakes. The wolf in sackcloth curls and creeps

around a withered street.



Long deserted villages still testify to loss.

With tambourines the burger kings

take up  their ancient dance.




Layers and Levels 



This city is layered in water and rock:

Promenade and March, promenade

and march. A lead-shot tower on a low skyline

grim as the sniper of death.

Who is the one creeping inside the walls?

Who is the stranger outside?


A sensation of boots and a dirty light:

Who goes there? cries the watchtower ghost.

Joker or thief, there is no way out. 


Under the moon a man freezes up like a hare.

The fountain is green like the margins of shadows,

stone looks malleable, soft as a fish, curving

upwards and round. An explosion

of fireworks but no matching light.

Grey hills of Wales are empty of foe, 

bodies scatter like gravel. Frost in the quarry

is vicious at dawn – time to split rock at its heart.


There are poppies in buttonholes, petals on graves ...

Move him into the sun for the mists of November

are cold.


Layers and levels, water and rock, promenade

and march. The Cathedral pilgrim stirs at the music,

shifts his  misericord, rubs his poor bones.


Relying on Christopher and the new moon,

he stumbles into the night.









Once he ruled the darkness of the ancient wood, the wild

ancestral bear. Who dared to enter if confronted, had the will

to pass? He could rip the skins off night, destroy the sunset

with his paw.  In this tangle-wood of conflict

he is out there still.




Nothing to see but a ruin.

Even a rabbit or seabird would help.

It is silent after the hours of guns.

What am I looking for 

Ghosts of my men?

They are all shells.

Bodies lie stiff in a windy field. 

I am slaughtered inside.




The grey stone owl is old. Well worn and weather-beaten, he is verdigris

ingrained with mud.  He sits through all the years.


The stones I love are heavy and moon-faced: smooth enough to paint or just

to hold and listen to. At times they seem


like shrunken masks – white and eyeless, dispassionate and chill.

They are echoes of the wind:  impacted and compressed.


I think of aircraft on a hillside: a cross, chalk-white against the green

skeletons retrieved  at Plugstreet Wood. 




... rode the six hundred  he jots down

relishing the sound of rhyme; it gives the men

collective fame: a valiant troop that fought

in the heroic mode and died as fits tradition.

In recent years he gives them names

like Hodge or Jack, adds  details to provide

the tender touch. Remembers how

in Saxon times, he was spectator on the spot

allowed to hide behind the shields

record events as they occurred:

who was cut down, whose noble spear

lay vanquished in the mud.




To Me, To Me



Remember the beach where we swam in the sea and the sky

was the texture of heat wave, lit by gashes of storm? 


That was a long time ago.

Today the same sea is placid and flat.


Families are staggering onto the beach, determined as deckchairs

to have a good time. A small boy is running


with bells on his shoes. His father is trying to harness

a windbreak, fix it in sand. A few people stand


at the railings alone, stare at the sea.  From somewhere a song ...

O bring  my love back ...Words are distorted by gulls.



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