20170815

Karen Downs-Barton



Your Penitence

Your house intoned antiphons
dolorous, Gregorian, resonated within
wattle and daub ribs and writ in slow
creeping script of mould
on parchment soft walls.

Your rattled response, coughed
out of sync,
troubled tar-thrumbed lungs
and nightly pilgrimage over
wall-sloughed plaster dermis.

Your dust-peppered path
encrusted knees and hands like drifting
hourglass sands, while heady incense
from a thousand yesterdays wallpaper stored
crawled with you, heavenwards,
over hurdles of wooden steps, or pews.

Your labored ascent, rent
by cartilage creak from hips and knees,
cantilated pious admonitions to genuflection,
penitent lamentations. Wept saline sorrows
puddled in your wake, seeped through your
door anointing passing feet, absolving sins
you or they had yet to commit.



Your Space Sonnet & Refills

                        After Space Sonnet & Polyfilla
by Edwin Morgan

Your Space Sonnet

So much disappeared or became entwined
small pieces of you stuck within a mess
of cobweb threads spun from your spider mind.
We teased back facts, people, the slow process

of disentanglement from filaments
sticky and fragile. Some clung to random
chromatic memory flies; some strands, rent
by over coaxing, let through gray phantom

words that never returned. Places, loved ones
fluttered off unnoticed till, alarmed by
blank spaces, each day contained short reruns
of what went before, dwindling over time.

Drifting on silk chords your escapees found
new ears, ether whispered, airborne, unbound.

            Refills

So much disappeared or became entwined
small pieces of you stuck within a mess
of cobweb threads spun from your spider mind.
We teased back facts, people, the slow process

of disentanglement from filaments
sticky and fragile. Some clung to random
chromatic memory flies; some strands, rent
by over coaxing, let through gray phantom

words that never returned. Places, loved ones
fluttered off unnoticed till, alarmed by
blank spaces, each day contained short reruns
of what went before, dwindling over time.

Drifting on silk chords your escapees found
new ears ether whispered, airborne, unbound.


Love

She is cotton crispness, ozone scented
by summer mornings with rose tinged
borders. I will slip into her
cool caress, the refrigerated exterior that
warms to the touch. We’ll count her threads,
five hundred, Egyptian; I’ll listen
to our folded voices meet
between fingers, join
and fold again, a bundle too tight
to be divided. I’ll shut us in
a scented drawer, paper lined
and strewn with herbs, a pot-pourris
of petals and aromatic gum
preserving young love.
I’ll call her Meadow Sweet
and sew a name tape on her heart,
a token of my affection


A Manchester Pietà

Within sanctified walls
wisps of canticles catch
the air, pendulum buffeted
by musted incense; scented clouds
for the evening’s litany.

Benedictory mizzle rides the trams
vortices to fairground sounds and stale
perfume leaked
from fustered pub doorways in
the evenings littered city.
He is stigmata stained               

by smouldering tapers bleeding light,
blending
ensanguined tinctures with shafts
of gem bright glass
to polychrome stony skin.
Immutable within his altar Christ
is a sculptural metaphor; cuneiform
messages, sacrificially etched, spell
‘atonement’ in seven languages
incised across

by crack pipe burns, crusted wounds
illumined by a smouldering stogie
limp between finger and thumb like an
impotent poets pen.
He is a sepia study, blended against
industrial brick, graffitied slow-strobe
neon; tear tinged devotions lit from
commercial altars declaring
Always Open and 24/7
etching

the impassive features of Manchester’s

               marble pietà.

paroled junky.               

Naked to the waist
His chest a crinoline cage of static ribs
encasing a silent heart. He is artfully draped across

the virgins knees, gazed upon by
ageless angels in mute
eternal vigil. All hope resides in His
frame, encased within thin veils
of skin. Pathos fed by Christ’s wafer
thin vulnerability and enduring
maternal love immortalised in stone.
Reanimation on the systole surge
of vespers sung by those who fear
to die alone

black sack reliquaries
a life’s accumulated debris,
junkyard mizzens of soiled memories
remain constant as sentience slips
away, Loosed,
his soul seeks a resting place,
shadows in the wake of
commuters their eyes
averted,
talking in whispers.

A homily from metropolitan lives, coexisted               

the collection plates revolve
in cacophonous rounds of metal
on metal, born hand to hand
on communal hopes:
absolution
for the deserving,
renovation for the church.

in isolation. The leitmotif of ‘Spare
some change?
’ ceased, his cap gathers
a tithe of dust to dust and a soul drifts
in the city undertow.
Hope and future were his no-show
in the rounds of release
without rehabilitation




Karen (Downs-) Barton is a neurodiverse poet studying The History of Art with Creative Writing BA at the Open University. She lives in Wiltshire, close to Stonehenge in a quarryman's cottage held together with mud and hair mortar. Her non-poetic occupations include magician’s assistant and dance teacher (Middle Eastern and tango). She is combining her love of poetry with interests in female-centric art studies in a chapbook of found poetry, stretching the boundaries of form and genre. Karen is founder and co-editor of Matryoshka Poetry and has been published in Alyss, The Goose, The Curly Mind, Three Drops From A Cauldron, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Poetry WTF, Thank You For Swallowing, Wicked Banshee, Unlost, *82 and The Fem Lit’ amongst others.
You can find her at: http://thepapercutpoet.blogspot.co.uk.
 
 
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