Autumn Thoughts

One blown human flower

Three new poems by Carol Rumens.

Almost an Invitation

Come nearer, gentle green
monotone, let me discern 
Horsetail from grass, and the fine line between 
all grassy species.
Cow Parsley, bring your bright white coral crumbs,
and Meadowsweet, lift clouded silvery fountains;
grow tall as girlhood, hide the dark old mountains. 

Sun-yellow Lion-Tooth, toil,
bite back all that was taken
in hand by hands like mine that drove
iron into your soil.
Tell us the time again, blue Shepherd’s Bell;
forgive us the flocks we fleeced
for lotions, lagging, motor-oil:
and you, bold sapling Oak
and pioneering Birch, once dispossessed,
dig in, enjoy my field!
Feel free to stretch, to rise, but oh, don’t build
too near the sky, don’t poke
those high ancestral lines, the super-power 
which is my fire my light my song my sanction 
to love and live the multiple transactions

of one blown human flower.
Yr Wylan / The Seagull

The herring-gull’s pole-star is the telegraph-pole.
Big bird, thin neck, small head; up there, each eye

is measuring distances, the balancing
of gravity and air, the existential

goal – the grace – to eat and not get eaten.
Yr wylan swoops and, landing, seems surprised.

It pads flatly around the weedy paving,
on sea-clean feet that have never known the sea,

nodding, circling, darts a fish-hook beak
into the dish of cat-food, peeks again
left, right, left, right, exposed, shyly determined, 
settles to peck. Its mate sails in from nowhere. 

Their dinner-date’s a rapid decorous ritual,
concluded by paired lift-off, graduating

to under-belly shine, and white, perfected wingspan. 
Dafydd ap Gwilym’s sight-line caught the picture – 

‘light of the waves’, ‘sea-lily’, ‘silver letter’ – 
higher and farther away, sometimes resting

mid-sky, free-gliding sideways, gathering height in wide
pulsating arcs and then not there: beyond us.

At dusk, they’ll chortle back. They have a nest to furnish
and fill with muscle-memory’s tides and thermals.

To the Moon above Lon Carfon

Who now can see you straight 
and female in the world’s old way? Who’ll wait

for a lover’s sky? Your blurred development
from new to young, from young to waxing crescent, 

to waxing quarter, waxing gibbous, full,
will be your truth. Let’s not thumb any vehicle 

that leaves us metaphorically confused.
Linger only in cloud-light, dawn-diffused, 

theatrical, where house-trained conifers, 
CCTV-enabled lucifers

and nimby warning-signs are merely twinkles.
Surface the lane with ‘roughness, ridges, wrinkles …’
The lane’s your silver. I’m your gravity.
My shadow, taller, blacker, glides ahead of me. 

Carol Rumens poet

Carol Rumens lives in North Wales, and writes full-time. Her most recent poetry publications are The Mixed Urn (Sheep Meadow, 2019, USA) and Bezdelki: Small Things (The Emma Press, 2018, UK). The latter received the annual Michael Marks Award for best poetry pamphlet.

Author photo by Becky Rumens.

All poems copyright © Carol Rumens 2023.

Autumn Thoughts

Thyme for a song

Ashleigh Fisk sings her queered version of the traditional folk song ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’.

Ashleigh Fisk

Ashleigh (she/her) is an artist/maker living and working in the East Sussex countryside and London. She works with craft practices including ceramics, print, textiles, drawing and writing. Ashleigh runs her own functional ceramics line, AF Clay.

Ashleigh describes her work as sitting on the ley lines between history, myth, archaeology and folklore. She aims to unearth the queerness and significance of our landscape through the objects it creates and holds throughout the slippages of time. 

AF Clay is a means to explore these themes in a practical application. Visually and technically, her ceramics are inspired by the rich heritage of British pottery, and its underlying ethos is a revival of the Craft Guilds/ Arts and Crafts movement with its socialist philosophy that values craftsmanship and skilfully made objects, as well as the communities and individual empowerment that craft can foster through cyclical learning and making.

Audio and images copyright Ashleigh Fisk 2023. The top image shows her ceramic ‘Star Grate for W. Blake’.

Autumn Thoughts Hazel Authors

Mothers and daughters

South African poet Nkateko Masinga previews a new poem from her collection Daughter Wound, due to be published by Hazel Press in April 2024. The collection explores a young woman’s negotiation of intimate relationships: sexual, familial and political.

The cover design features ‘Kin’, a painting by artist Anna Ilsley, which was commissioned for this collection. Ilsley’s work challenges the construct of the male gaze and offers a feminist disruption of patriarchal images.


I am rewriting my mother’s story on my face
See the quotation marks holding my smile together?

Even my laughter is hers, not mine

Be careful how you say your own mother’s name
how you articulate your blood

You and your mother were once one person
a question mark in each ear
born to listen to her

Everything about you says
I am telling someone else’s story
I am still not sure about mine

Make sure you are reading the history book
being written in your childhood home

Collecting recipes too
because age is engraving farewell messages
into Mama’s skin

and how will you sustain yourself
when she is gone?

The words on her earlier pages
are disappearing as you read them

Your mother is forgetting herself

One day she will not be there
when you turn back to a part of her story
you enjoyed, hoping she will read it again

hoping to hear her laughter echo across the room
as she throws her head back

One day she will not be here to speak
so you will repeat her words to your children
just to hear her voice in yours
Daughter Wound cover by Nkateko Masinga and Anna Ilsley

Nkateko Masinga

Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning writer and scholar. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s 2021 International Writing Program, she was a 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow and a Golden Key Scholar. In 2018 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can read more on Nkateko’s website here.

Poem ‘Heritage’ copyright © Nkateko Masinga 2023.

Cover image ‘Kin’ copyright © Anna Ilsley 2023.

Autumn Thoughts In The Nature Of

Seed pockets

Three autumnal poems.


Because they’re red
they say you cannot eat the haws
and call them ‘birds' meat’.

But we know better.
The haws and leaves
are bread and cheese
we chew in autumn’s glut

striding across the fields
to spit their pips
into the green of possible lives.
On the Bare Hill
Men have been up on the hills
burning gorse, razing bracken.
I stand in dark, dead hearths
blackening my boot tips
among broken bottles,
smelling ash
on a bitter breeze.
When I was young
we toasted wine corks on the hob,
daubed ourselves in ashy camouflage,
tucked ferns in our belts
and disappeared into the woods
to lie all day in undergrowth
smelling of soil, deer’s hooves,
adder’s underbelly.
Shall I take off my clothes
and roll naked in hill brack?
Smear a blue-black crosshatch,
break up my outline,
Step out of things.
Shall I walk away, grieving, in a fashion
old as red ochre and white clay,
following damp hanks of lily-white wool
snagged along barrow tracks of broom
Spared the fire?
I remember:
lime seas of bracken unfurling,
spiked fists of gorse erupting,
yellow flowers,
smelling of coconut.

In the water meadow:

an old man bowed
in a circle of black cows

lifts the fine tilth of molehills
into an old pail 

hums quietly to the seeds
rustling in his pocket. 

How I write

It generally goes like this: the hare lopes by, unseeing; the kestrel crashes through the holloway roof; the old hawthorn creaks in a gale by the river. Into gaps left by these happenings,words flow and, if I am lucky, sometimes poems form. For me, poetry is the Grammatica Parda or ‘tawny grammar’ that Gary Snyder writes about in The Practice of the Wild. A direct, fleeting, fragile and magical result of minds crossing, blending for a second, leaving their impressions.

Uncertainty is essential. In the outdoors, I try to adopt a thoughtful, open stance – walking, sitting, lying – and then wait for something to happen; for co-writers of poetry to turn up on wing, foot or fin.

Hal Rhoades

Hannibal Rhoades is an anthropologist, environmentalist and writer. He lives in the Malvern Hills and works for Action for Conservation on the Penpont Project in the Bannau Brycheiniog.

Here he is with Igor in Northern Canada.

Poems copyright © Hannibal Rhoades 2023.