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Their minds slip through my hands.

I cannot catch these butterflies,

pin them to the page.


I flex my net; homework, I say:

five references to creatures in the text;

explain why.

  from Last Lesson by Lynda Turbet 





















1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Lynda Turbet


After decades teaching in Yorkshire and NE Scotland, experiences which now inform her poetry, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk,

 and tries to make sense of it all through writing. Her work has been published online and in print. She enjoyed giving readings until prevented by motor neurone disease.









how many times were they

a hand’s length from disaster -

caught before some fatal fall

from wall or stairwell, dragged

from cliff or pavement brink -

the treacherous pan of soup

the branding iron, neglected fire

intent on causing grief?


so easy then to recognise catastrophe 

intercept, grip harder, act;

you learn you can’t avert 

the broken bones and hearts,

snatch them safe from pain;

release is hard: you feel 

their trustful fingers in your palm

like scars from skirmishes survived 

calloused by years. Danger 


enjoys its game of hide and seek -

we play, we win, we lose: we can’t avoid 

the twisted metal, stranger’s knife,

the slow creep of mutant cells.




“If life’s a lousy picture, why not leave before the end”

Roger McGough


I’d like have the guts to go

with Thelma&Louise

engine revving

tyres spinning

over the cliff

one last joyful woohoo

of I am


or Butch&Sundance

running into sunlight

bullets and stars -

or even Captain Ahab

dragged by rubber destiny

defiant to the last.


I’d like to say

play it again

or believe

I frankly don’t give a damn

meet high noon

guns blazing


but it’s likely to be

a botched Italian Job

teetering on the edge

before the fall

or carry on regardless

looking on the bright side of life.



Last Lesson


They sprawl, listless, eye the torpid clock,

slack pens slumped on sweaty paper,

tired of words.


A low drone penetrates our stupor,

fat, familiar; a single barbed invader

circles the scene.


The classroom hums alive: they duck,

flap, flick manes like restless ponies

bothered by flies.


Macbeth attacks, his victim

smeared across the cover

badged with blood.


Unsettled, skittish, they call time

on Shakespeare's Scotland,

itch for phones and friends.


Their minds slip through my hands.

I cannot catch these butterflies,

pin them to the page.


I flex my net; homework, I say:

five references to creatures in the text;

explain why.


Their voices buzz, a thickening swarm

gathers for release; the bell

an open window.



A Green Thought in a Green Shade


Sent from under her feet

you wear the colander,

a helmet in the sun.


Thick smells of compost

follow the baked brick path,

wind past wigwams

drooping crimson blooms,

to netted bamboo canes

for clambering shoots.


Pods bulge;

their fatness fills your hand.

First, the satisfying pop

of break and enter -then

slit with grubby thumb; strip

the sweet spoils nestled snug,

aligned in size. Pale globes

roll on your tongue. Your world

is midday heat, the scent of mint,

white butterflies, green peas.




Where the wild things are


I am releasing my garden

into the wild. Look -

the ivy scuttles up the walnut tree

patters through branches

where pigeons bounce;

the wayward hedge unchecked

opens to blackbirds’ nests,

gauzy fennel waves bronze fronds

brushes the window, bold.


Feverfew runs rampant

lemon balm spreads its bed

embraces thyme, promiscuous.

I let forget-me-nots alone

to find their place, permit

old rosemary to thrive unpruned,

wait to see what freedom holds.


I scatter seeds to make amends -

poppy, campion, mallow, scabious -

apologies for harsher discipline

pressed on damp earth.

The swifts return like promises,

whistle in whirring clusters, rise

like shot arrows into squinting blue.



Instructions for a Journey


Drive north until land runs out,

peat stacks black to the west,

turbines striding across bleak moor


and straths cleared of crofts where

starved children crammed their mouths

with cockles, raw from the rocks. But


don't linger - you must board the evening ferry.

Check the tides before you eat;

the Pentland Firth is merciless, for


under the churning waves

a sea-witch labours, works the mill,

grinds salt to feed the seas, so


stay on deck. Watch the light change,

the dark hump of Hoy, The Old Man

a sign you’re almost there. Puffins


skim over foam, follow the wake,

dive in a blur of colour. Gulls circle,

scream you into harbour, when


you breathe a different air, feel

the pull of something other.

Names taste unfamiliar in your mouth,


as bere-meal bannock will:

Brodgar, Isbister, Quoyloo, Stenness.

Disembark. Start your journey.



Crossing Places


I am drawn to the edges of place -

heads, points, spits - the merge and meld

of margins, blur of shingle,

sand in shifting dunes of marram grass

sliding to meet the sea

arms that stretch out fingers, clutch at breakers

hold stubbornly to land, refuse to leave;

the lure of tidal islands’ wave-washed tracks,

man-made causeways, ground that won't let go.


Once, we walked to Hunga

- Dog Island to the Vikings -

by-passed a farm, skirted a frantic collie,

out into Scapa Flow.


Sheep and feral goats

cropped rough grazing.

A single track hooped the rim,

sheer to the furrowed beach,

and on the wind an eerie rise and fall:

a choir of basking seals

like scattered boulders came alive

from smooth-slapped rocks

turned human faces to the sun

sang like drowned souls, wailing loss

forever trapped in unfound wrecks

no crossing-place to guide them back to land.



60 Degrees North

Mousa Sound, Shetland


Once I slept in a box bed

(too small for comfort)

lay beside Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Ottawa,

snug under blankets of knitted squares,

watched peats glow through wooden doors.

Baskets of yarn in island dyes

of lichen, bedstraw, woad and weld

drew shadow patterns in the flickering light.

My pillow smelled of smoke.


After supper, I watched storm petrels -

dark wishbones in the dusk -

skim home across the Sound

the distant broch louring black

with secrets. Next day, I woke to sun,

six seals on the stony beach

oatmeal porridge made with salt,

the box bed doors open

to someone else’s story.





Then, just before sleep,

you remember the brown felt hat

jammed on a straw-stuffed sack,

neck tight with orange twine;

picture the drunken grin,

eyes, nose black smears.


Crucified, he stands in fresh-turned furrows

shredded jacket flaps rags

from branching arms.

Ribbons of plastic fingers snatch the wind.


By day, birds settle, unafraid.

By night, uprooted, he rattles

moonlit bones over fields

way-marked by scattered flints,

leaps hedges, dykes, drains. You wait


for the scrape on the window pane,

the click of dry sticks on a wooden stair,

the smothering smell of earth, the face

close, closer, closing on your own.






After dark, the guisers come

turnip lanterns grinning at the door.

Emboldened by the mask

brash painted faces menace

alien to themselves.

Tonight there’s licence in the air.


Later, stillness wraps the street,

the black sky clear, the year

balanced; solstice and equinox

pull taut, the night liminal,

thin between two worlds.


Hold the hour like a brimming cup,

the surface ripples with a breath.

Open both doors. Leave bread and salt.

Light candles; lay an extra place.



3 - Publishing history

INSTRUCTIONS FOR A JOURNEY - published in the anthology, Places of Poetry

CROSSING PLACES  - winner, Red Shed Open Poetry Competition

60 DEGREES NORTH - published in Not Very Quiet


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