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I cannot cut holes in your silences,

   turn them into star-shaped flakes

like paper doily decorations,

   line your windows with them,

hang them in the naked trees.



                 from; The Magician by Sharon Black








     First Trimester


     Fibonacci Takes a Walk to Clear His Head

     No Magician


     The First Cup


     The Gift




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Sharon Black


Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the remote Cévennes mountains of southern France. She has been published in various magazines including Mslexia, Envoi, Orbis, Agenda, The Interpreters House and The Frogmore Papers, and has won several poetry prizes including The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2011. Her first full poetry collection, To Know Bedrock, is published by Pindrop Press this month. www.sharonblack.co.uk









she gulps peach slices and           tinned pears

cured meats and              memories            preserved in brine

she gulps Jaffa Cakes

   and slabs of     processed         solitude


she is in a lavatory

in a cold room

on her lunch break

at six minutes past one


she does it quietly, steadily

because no-one’s told her to

because it weighs her like ballast

because it fits like a straitjacket


it tastes of           habit,

       of     sugared almonds,

                of sleeping pills

   and warm milk


of something that once flowed abundantly

but she kept to herself

like a fresh cut.






All night she tracks the moon

through the mulch of sky,

watches it wick from feet to pelvis.       


She lies as still as silver, offers

the banks of her body

for its consumption.


Beyond the window, night creatures

shuffle in the cut grass.


Soon it will be harvest.

High water. Howling leaves.





First Trimester


my mother in her bedroom

   slipping on a nightdress

her voice as thick as cream

   the muffled drum of her heart

and the streaming of bubbles through long narrow spaces


   lying on her back

head raised on pillows as if she is looking down on me

   despite the blankets

despite the dark

   despite her closed eyes


a story is already unfolding

   me face to face with the moon

remembering its cool tug                                            

  my mother standing beside me

staring out at the stars


   she is dreaming a car trip

my father at the wheel

   her hand on his left leg

her thoughts threading him       

   and the road’s slow glow


her thoughts weave me too

   these delicate raw parts

binding me in her silences

   looping her dreams into knots

and tying them round me in beautiful chains





(after Tube Shelter Perspective, 1941, by Henry Moore)


My boy is sleeping now, his warm breath

lapping on my chest. I shift


on concrete, pull the blanket up around our necks,

my feet away from cold steel rails


that stretch into a deeper black than here.

Nothing to tell the night from day


except the stilted sway of sleep,

the hush of intimacies, and in the distance


a mother's voice riding the tide:

bye baby bunting, daddy’s gone a hunting…


There's comfort in these strangers,

pressed together like hands in prayer


below the streets of London. I rock

the plumb weight in my arms


and think of planes whining                                                       

through the shell-shocked city sky:


within each cockpit, a young man

with a girl back home, in whose plumpness


he longs to sink, to dream

of days as bright and rare as oranges.






Fibonacci Takes a Walk to Clear His Head

The question spirals down his throat

and lodges in his ribcage.


It is conch; a flowering artichoke;

a cochlea that hears only pulse.


It speaks a seaborne dialect. It speaks

of gases compressing, of stars

seeding like sunflowers, of the origin of salt.


It speaks of the trails of ancestors

dragging themselves from the surf;

a shedding of fins, scales, monocular vision.

The question turns again

and hooks in deep.


As he wanders the cathedral gardens of Pisa

he sees it in everything.

The tower straining for it. He feels

its pressure when he inhales:

a bruise, a colour breathing into life,

the small ache

of coming back to himself

while spinning                                                    further away.




No Magician


I cannot sketch these walls in colour,

   paint reflections into household things,

transform your pale fingers

   into exotic dancers

across the stage of the breakfast table.


I cannot cut holes in your silences,

   turn them into star-shaped flakes

like paper doily decorations,

   line your windows with them,

hang them in the naked trees.


I cannot sew beads into the sky,

   embroider a moon from silver threads

to turn your view into

   something more than simply winter;

I cannot pull bright silks from my sleeve.


I have only this threadbare jacket,

   its pockets filled with words,

all of them white rabbits,

   all of them hopping                                                    


                                    into the








He ekes words from the colour of the soil,

from the reek of sixty days of piss, shit, sweat;

from his knowledge of each man’s breath, the tension

at the earth’s heart.


He writes his letters by the alchemy of truck batteries,

tucks them gently as eggs

into the abdomens of white palomas:

news to hatch in his family’s hands.


He tells how he’s forgotten blue –

the wink of el Salar de Llamara;

the muscled flinch of swordfish;

a lone star, fading. How he knows


morning only from his wrist-watch,

from the 6am sudden stringed fluorescence,

from his daily ration

of half-a-spoon of tuna, one biscuit, a mouthful of milk.


He holds his notebook upside down,

lets the sheets fall open like wings:

a pair for every man down here,

he will leave no page empty.


Note: In 2010, thirty-three Chilean miners were trapped for 69 days. Victor Zamora, a mechanic, sent his wife poems in plastic capsules nicknamed palomas ("doves"). The Chilean flag is known as la Estrella Solitaria (‘the lone star’).



The First Cup


Stiff and rum-headed, I roll                                                        

from bed. Already it infuses everything:

I shower under kettle-hot water,

towel myself with sachet-thin cotton.


You serve me toast and orange juice

but the tea I make myself – tapping

out the pinched green balls, pouring

boiling water to the brim


then watching as they slowly bloom,

uncurl, their edges overlapping,               

one pale leaf-stalk nudging another’s

unclenched fist as it reaches up for air.


It’s an orgy of green: smoky-moss-weed-green

loosened to decadence, seeping chlorophyll.

A bubble feels its way along a leaf vein.

Steam plumes in the kitchen’s cool breath.


I wait until the colour’s almost sepia,

till morning’s angles are bowed in reverence;

minutes evaporate, edging my cup

in beads of precipitation.                             


The first sip is pure light, white composed

of every spectrum hue; Chinese women

harvesting fields in vivid hanfu

with baskets on their backs, women


strong as honey against a copper sun,

their faces like lanterns strung across the dawn.







My journey is with the names of things;

words on a page.


Each one an island - an archipelago

of letters bound by sandbars

- anchored in a milk-white sea.


I climb them one by one to understand

their hearts. To know bedrock.




The Gift


This heart is desert marble

scored with tracks

of camel, gecko, rattlesnake.


You place it on my pillow every night:

a gift offered at the border of sleep                       

like a passport or a bribe.


It is cool in my hand,

heavy as a promise. I try to match                           

my palm lines to its paths:                                           


some, frayed knots that loop

back to the start;

others striking their straight course to the tip before veering                     


away, petering out

like a traveler, parched and belligerent.

Only one path bridges the gulf


between stone and flesh –

leaping clear

of the blunted point and running head-first into my lifeline.





3 - Publishing History



Poems from the collection ‘To Know Bedrock’ (pub. Pindrop Press) and have previously been published in the following journals:


Binge – pub. Envoi, issue 155 (Feb 2010)

Equinox – pub. Cinnamon Press anthology ‘A Roof of Red Tiles’ (Sep 2011)

First Trimester – The New Writer’s ‘The Collection’ (July / Aug 2010)

Bunker – pub. Mslexia, issue 46 (Aug 2010)

Fibonacci Takes a Walk to Clear His Head – pub. The Frogmore Papers (Sep 2011)  under the title ‘Fibonacci Ponders the Meaning of Life’

No Magician – pub. The Aesthetica Creative Works Annual 2009

Palomas – pub. Agenda, volume 46 (current issue)

The First Cup - unpublished

Pilgrimage - unpublished

The Gift – pub. in the Poetry on the Lake 2011 anthology ‘Stone’




4 - Afterword


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