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Three Poems by Nick Taylor

If reality is a frozen story, mine goes like this: I was born on a council estate in Wolverhampton. My dad was a tool room machinist and my mum was a cleaner. There were no books so we watched Benny Hill. I did low-paid jobs or signed on the dole for most of my life and now work as a carer for just above the minimum wage. Some other things happened but they belong in poems. If I could have my life again I would get a job as a geologist or similar and get married and have children.

Eulogy to a Cream Skimmer

A careful pass of the farm-hand's palm

over the milky water

and the golden fat tanked lazily

up the shallow saucer.

Fleeter, Scummer, Skimmer, Ladle:

names for sycamore scalloped for baccy

by the village turner.

The churning of decades has shifted its axis

yielding its once perfect form to the years

a sensuous rim is now all of its compass

when once it collected laughter and tears.

With geological slowness, casein accrued,

a pale and lustrous patina pooled

mirroring countless faces, ageing,

fixed like leaves in amber.

Its heritage value noted

it works no more as a ladle,

but lives its life an awkward bowl

on some Chelsea table

where palm oil is a no no

but agribusiness rules

the ‘bowl’ is kept in aspic 

and its clueless heir is plastic.

Those who were brought up in soft clothes and by womenfolk have little in common with we who were raised among the pines. - Paracelsus.

Firebreaks were thought superfluous

To thwart the burning faery king

When lovely Herodis closed her eyes

Beneath the orchard’s canopy

The centripetal force 

Of her cloistered heart

Would bring the dream full circle,

Dark magic enough to foil abduction

And soft light tumbled

Through generous boughs

Dancing and dappling her naked feet

Under the Ancient Malus.

Malus Malleus Maleficarum:

Apple of Serpent.

Palely she drifts now

White as snow

Sinking in tar

Lilting above her

The silhouette net

Lacing, unlacing her throat

Malus Malleus Maleficarum:

Apple of Adam.

She wakes on a pillow of needles

Dank shade silts her bones

And a sullen sun contrives with trees

To cast long bars at man and beast

Malus Malleus Maleficarum:

Apple of Fenrir.

Galloping blindly through bramble and briar

He finds each shaft which glances low

From root and boulder,

Benighted thicket of dim desire.

Malus Malleus Maleficarum:

Apple of Siegfried

Apple of fire

An ivy coils around the tree

Which holds her in its crown

And skulls are hung among the leaves

To weigh her body down

The ribcage of a sparrow

Is slipped upon her thumb

Her pillow is of braided flax

Yellow as the sun

Leaves of water hemlock

Are draped across her thighs

And a whorl of thundercloud

Is placed between her eyes

Her navel bears an opal

Her wrists are tied with twine

Her forehead drips with cinnabar

From the holy vine

A silver handled flywhisk

Is placed in either hand

To sweep away her footprints

From the broken land


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