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and there he is

devil winged and goose bumped,

a vampire tramp

all tasselled swags and weepers,


                 from;  Spring Heel Jack  by Ian Clarke






Church: New Year's eve



March 1st

Death of a Farrier



Spring Heel Jack





1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Ian Clarke


Born Wisbech, Cambridgeshire 1954. Worked and studied variously in Wisbech, Cambridge, Gt Yarmouth, Manchester, Harrogate, Leeds, London and Bradford.  Currently working at Leeds Metropolitan University.  Started writing in mid teens, received early encouragement from Pete Brown, British Beat poet and lyricist for rock group Cream.





Church: New Year's Eve


The cold of centuries

in pier, shaft and rood;

there are waterleaf capitals,

arch rib and tracery


and brick nogging weathered to silver,

with beams gnarled and cut

from branching root.

Then flushwork and thatch,


Quantock sandstone rose toasted,

and clerestory spraying light,

the spire crocketted and buttressed,

a lancet sunset pink.


While outside cattle smoulder

and a stream giggles over stones

and as I look back

frost nibbles a sprig


and the spire stands taut

beautifully starved against the empty sky,

one still point

pinning the year’s trembling dusk.




Close the curtains,

shut out the dark,

the fox hunted red raw,

keep out the wind ribbed sea,

a gale rinsing rock to shingle,

shingle to sand,


and look beyond snow saddled roofs,

beyond the earth’s curve crusting,

to a green murmur on acres starved,

to a river nectar drowsy,

a damsel fly’s blue cooling into flight,

and under the window shadow choked earth


thaws to pearl tears:

their light bowed moon dipped and brittle,

shadow scented and rising white,

winter’s last breath drained to a shiver,

spring star bare and perfect

hatching between frost and roses.





stubble the thaw

their sweet chill

a slick of giggles

coming up for air


(im HC)



March 1st



wish thin ice

doves rubbing voices

warming the woods




Death of a Farrier


The reedsman riding his cut:

stacks for thatching,

sweet flags to strew the floor.

His blunt nosed boat

osier flush with faggot bands,


sheaves bundled and plaited with rush.

And there he is –

wind stung and sun beaten,

mud rucked and frozen,

his dowser’s willow twig


scouring for rivers

shivering underground.

And by his wordless farm

dusk stirs a breath of shadow,

there are nests packed and stiffened


behind buds’ eager green,

and bowed in the lane

braided and ribboned,

his horse shy between soil stirring

and the sun’s deepening flame


cooling and gripping the rim.





Old freckle blancher, old bone setter,

all wormwood and lavender,

mixing milt hard as pitch,

slack baking, sweating and gentling,

then smoothing spore thatched apples

their sweet millions to worm,


to tame from the wild.

And there she is scything to stubble

listening for the buoy’s bell

fog dimmed and suffering

still wringing from dusk wreathes of mist,

a pheasant’s startled flame.


And where tar bubbles empty miles

her whispered tease shivers through barley

to the outskirts of rain

and by her headstone days pile and darken,

her face’s map of years lost

slicked by hot petrol wind,


rain blind as sleep.




The dark thaws

to foxglove, balsam,

bracken’s hooked and tender green

to a river fish tickled


and dewpond fresh

where roots claw the bank    

and rain softens

to a cold smouldering,


and where winter fades,

buried with bog-oak and bone,

the ghost of a gibbet

fogged and gallows still


coming up for air.




Spring Heel Jack


The cocked brim

of a zoot suited dandy,

his bull dick cane’s swagger

limping under a tide of pink giggles-


and there he is

devil winged and goose bumped,

a vampire tramp

all tasselled swags and weepers,


sharing his dark cornered lair

with bricks and kittens,

and homing on shadow choked streets,

a whispered tease

shivering through barley,


leaving alleys

bloodslicked and silent,

a slit grinning

ecstasy wet.





Snow rags thaw

to a skylark scaling octaves of air,

to a chill swallow christened sky

and in the cut balsam bee gloved and pouting,

seeds’ hooks and burs drifting to sun cracked shadow,

to crocus yolk and fungus dew,

daffodils’ choir of smiles.


But something at the lane’s dead end

freezes the heat -

is it rooks blackening to witch litter

or the pond sparkling stagnant

or the starlings’ shifting blizzard

like the dust of a shadow

cooling to roost.





a tortoiseshell cantors shy

       legs nectar feathered

air smiling

        in her wake



3 - Publishing History



A Trickle of Friction (Hub Editions 2003)  available from the author at  ianclarke25@btinternet.com

A Slow Stirring (Indigo dreams 2012)  available through Indigo Dreams or http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Slow-Stirring-Ian-Clarke/dp/1907401970


Anthologies including:

Writers of East Anglia, edited by Angus Wilson (Secker and Warburg 1977)

Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry, edited by Vernon Scannell (Yorkshire Arts 1984)

In The Telling, edited by Susan Richardson & Gail Ashton (Cinnamon Press 2009)

Magazines: Envoi, The Rialto, Poetry Review, Outposts, Smiths Knoll, Here Now, Pennine Platform.


4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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