Series Editor - Jim Bennett

Introduction by Jim Bennett

Hello.  Welcome to a new series of CITN.  We will be looking at the work of individual poets in each edition and I hope it will help our readers to discover some new and exciting writing.  This series is open to all to submit and I am now keen to read new work for this series.


This  edition features the poetry of Glyn Hughes


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Life is beginning again. In twilit midwinter
the sacrificial messengers of health
swim poking and feeling gently out of Nature
as through the skim of rain-clouded beck two salmon,


                 from; Salmon in Twiston Beck by Glyn Hughes





Salmon in Twiston Beck

The Act of Writing


Seventy, Not Out
In Fiddle Wood

The climb

Rainy autumn day




Books have been awarded: Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Welsh Arts Council Poets' Prize, Guardian Fiction Prize, David Higham Prize, shortlisted Whitbread Prize, Portico Prize, James Tait Black Prize.

see: www.glynhughes.co.uk & www.contemporarywriters.com.

recent publications:

The Summer The Dictators Fell. (stories) isbn 1870507.41 Goldmark. obtainable from the author.

Dancing Out Of The Dark Side (poems) isbn 1 904886 21 3. Shoestring Press, 19 Devonshire Ave., Nottingham NG9 1BS.

Two Marriages - poems and drawings. isbn 978 1 904886 69 3 Shoestring Press, Dec 07.

Two books chosen by Guardian readers' poll as "Eco Classics". Also recently picked by Times as "one of 6 best ever authors on North of England".

Glyn's book "Life Class" was a Poetry Kit Book of the Month and a special recommendation;

Life Class. (An autobiographical poem)    Shoestring Press 2009    isbn 978 1 904886 98 3





Salmon in Twiston Beck

Life is beginning again. In twilit midwinter
the sacrificial messengers of health
swim poking and feeling gently out of Nature
as through the skim of rain-clouded beck two salmon,
ghosts that recently held power
against an ocean, return to their known bourne.
Under the coverlet of hurrying water
in a majestic coupling they lie.

With their passionate sacrifice and last fling
they have come, so other, into my world
leaving a chink into theirs that shows
I am not the owner of my planet,
not even in imagination: the salmon
are too different. Their world beyond mine
is an image that often swims out of sight

as I have learned from gifted glimpses of it -
outer, and inner. For the salmon’s
log-like sickness couples with my own
while cancer-blood does its bad work on my eyes.
Yet in the virtue of sight before it dies
I have come into my self, my joy
on this edge where death’s blindness surely
will peer into another life,

in the small rest of nights’ sleep,
in the longer rest of winter,
and in the long, last rest of all.


How and when did it occur
that we grew into a tribe of ailing elders
loving to gossip in the street
wherever traffic streams are courteous,
we savouring - if hardly revelling in -
our strata of conviction laid by place and neighbours?
The happiest that a person can be,
some think, is adjusted to a small community;
that narrow gullet where the salmon
returns to breed and die in its birth channel.

Others go about their business,
which I observe in the lazy way a person
passes a slack line into an ocean
or savours eddies;
puzzled by the bleak shallows of our lives;
also by its leaps of joy;
knowing faith, fantasy, fear and hope only
of death, until the last act which is not death, but dying.

Will the glow that has for me been Art
be blanketed - as by cancer’s shadow over my eyes -
or last more substantially: more than a glow?



The Act of Writing

How to prepare for the calm that is poetry?
Sometimes with stillness even for days;
a harvested calm held for as long as needed
while little seems done and yet much is.
At other times it is through speed and change,
with acceleration into speed and craft,
and the rapid movements of a busy chef.

Still we often miss
what we wish to write of, afraid of it or nervous,
in its vague distance. Or maybe we don’t recognise
nor allow from elsewhere, the flowing touch.
We are not open - as a butterfly is perhaps
that pants weightless on a flower.
Not measuring with the wing-beats of our breath.




At last rooks and yet more rooks are shaking
their voices that sound like a bagful of stones,
ones that are small, though not so very small, dry and sharp,
that the flock is dragging through the valley air
upstream at dawn and downstream before dark.
So it must be Spring, the first grubs are stirring
to be plucked at the valley-head from a ploughing

and the last winter wind
(but will it be the last?) has scattered
sticks along the wood and the lane-sides
as if on purpose for them to repair nests,
to quarrel and bicker in their zest for life
(I think that’s what it is) about the old garden
where the rookery is. The attention-seeking clack,
clack; the circling, and the homing search.



Seventy, Not Out

I’ll keep my stick. I also want
a four-wheel drive, off-roader,
souped-up invalid-chair
with a three-litre engine to climb the hills
where later they’ll scatter my ashes
as curlews and peewits dance on the air;
a stereo to play Bach’s Mass in B Minor,
and a flashing light such as doctors have,
saying “poet on call”. Thus I’ll park anywhere
at the muse’s house. The stick’s to wave
anyone who objects to me, out of my hair.




In Fiddle Wood

When I went into the wood
it was stilled for an hour in its autumn collapse
not one leaf fell while I was there
they hung on delicately as spiders to their webs
poised and patient - the gold, the crimson perhaps
and ones of emerald that some think sickly.
Trees so filled with gold give out their light, the brook
before reaching the mill is filled with light,
with eddies where sky, slate-blue, breaks in to look,
or clouds’ silver through mossed boughs
fallen too thickly even for deer.
The sun carved this perfected silence
and it was startling, a surprise,
as the ordinary should be. I hardly wished or dared another step,
unsure that one perfection could replace another,
yet each movement presented one to my eyes
and then another, shot with light.
Of course there is no such thing as stillness,
it would rain tomorrow, maybe in an hour,
or in five minutes, making watercolours of my notes.
Temporary exhaustion is what I witnessed;
Winter; a bedding down for renewal. But when all will be cold,
trees bare of cluttering summer, truth will be seen.

And then I turned indeed towards some rain
although the heart of the wood
was still a cocoon within wind-sound - the flutes and moans
tipping high branches, or was it clouds that sang
like taut strings to the wind they roamed?
I faced the whispered shudders of it,
light but nevertheless leaf-flinging;
flinging a shimmer of noisy stars
that even flooded the distant and so-tidy cottages
with their discreet lamps alight on the edge of the wood.

One month later
wind in undamned torrents has threshed the trees
and a frost-mist, rushing in wisps sucked higher, rising,
weaves the morning boughs. Sun arcs low now over the Wood;
a scythe-blade of a track shaped like a moon-paring
among its frozen fires.
The steep wood is velvet. The mill walls, blackberry-black.
Tree shadows are white; the walls’ shadows are also white
patches of frost saved in the thawed gold
of fields that have slow-burned their way through frost.
Hunger of birds clacks in the blue air
that has advanced over the fires of dawn.
What can they find, those rooks, and that dark, cold
blackbird or is it a dipper skimming the stream?
Hunger incarnate is a small beast or bird turning leaves
that rattle with frost.

No-one has ever lived here.
Though they have spun cloth - and did they once dance
to fiddles before the age of the mills - but they have not lived here,
except paupers’ children brought in to weave;
carted from no-one cared where, and immured.
Perhaps they peered through barred windows at this beauty…
they must have done, while others shunned it
and not only because this is “The Dark Side”
for nine months of the year. And yet I love the spirits
which, for good or ill,
one looks everywhere over one’s shoulder for
but especially in the abandoned mill,
ghoulish with its hoods of livid moss.






When the larks fly off -
not singly ascending but, at summer’s end,
nests abandoned, in a flock
swift, low over fields -
tiles of light are scattered on their wings
as if some brightness up there has been shattered.

I fancy that in such scraps of light
our insights come, the grace of words
like an old church window perhaps,
one smashed by the envious worldly,
its fragments lying in muck on the floor.
Or like a bright river glimpsed through trees:
eyes in a quiver of wind,
water sighs rippling after, out of shade.






Hedgerows are pricked with the lights of roses
of such incandescence that they seem to burst
into flame and lose substance
so that mere hands pass through them. There is a scent
and an aether of beauty that only eyes may graze.

At one point Keats thought his only happiness
had come from looking at flowers
and sometimes I too think that the one light
I followed was through the garden
in trance to the brief yet inexhaustibly supplied

flames that I’d liken to the beauty of angels
at this hour when what they are attuned to is the song
of thrush and robin at dawn.
Then all seems a harmony of the spheres
in a green light (which is the grasses’ part,
honoured by fading stars).
Flowers offer the light back in cups of beauty.
They recompense the dark
and bandage the damaged soul.
Monday Without End

Let me show you, later today
through a haze of wine outdoors and the heat
(though this morning’s sky is a tender eggshell,
thank goodness and the blue furnace
of yesterday has dampened somewhat)
meadows not yet mown and in their glory;
orchids, seeded grass and sorrel.
Art can convey but it cannot give,
unless each artwork carried a phial
of meadow scent and not even then,
though I would like this poem to have one
holding the smell of cattle, clover, and drying hay,
as I wait for you to come home.



The climb

Thread your way between the houses
at one side, the gorge deeper and noisier
with wind and water on the other
and turn to climb a silent valley
deep in leaf-mould, with falling
or fallen trees in an autumn shroud.
Maybe a robin startles depths
with its song, or rather with the sweet lament
of robins. Otherwise, silence thickens.

In your breathless stumbling
you wonder why you are doing this
until you break out on the lip of rocks
and are un-shrouded again by light and wind
that earlier disturbed a roof of trees.
Your breath quite differently taken away.

This could be any climb
that gives you what poetry should:
a rise out of the dark
to inspire and be purified.




Rainy autumn day

It is in this light that every sadness descends
as if it was always at this time that lovers left you
or you left them. Arguments led to departures
when nights drew in and roads like this
lit at this hour but one week previously
were dark and wet and splattered with brown
or black leaves, your headlights bouncing
on a new strangeness. In this light
as a boy you were sure of being a genius
like Van Gogh or Mozart, and would not live to enjoy it.
Yes, this is their light really;
not all that sun, not those courtly chandeliers.

Is it true
it was always at this time of year that you cried?
Of course not. It was the sky that wept,
not more than other times, but more penetrating.



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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