from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

prose poems from guest contributors: 6 Lesley Quayle

Today it's Lesley Quayle. She's a widely published poet and a folk/blues singer, currently living in the depths of rural Dorset. 

I love the contrasts in these two prose poems – the heartbreaking tenderness, then the wryness. 

'October will be what it will,' you said. Trees turning red and gold, dead leaves piled on the grass, cold winds – the dark come early.  'I don’t mind rain.' Later, asleep before the crackling fire, nightcapped with pain, you seem little more than a whisper, each vein mapped from your heart to mine. A stain of blood moving, cumulonimbus beneath your eyes and, in the tender crook of an arm, a slender pulse. So thin the very bones of you inhabit skin like brass rubbings. One frail, white hand, quill fingers spanned across your chest, exquisite as frost.

The 7.25 to Leeds
The bus-stop 7.25 – two women, two young men, three suits, one shopping bag, four cigarettes, a headscarf, one shaved head, a hat.
No bus.

The bus-stop 7.30 – a tattooed girl, panting, out of breath. 'I thought I’d missed it.' Shaved-Head lights another fag, breathes smoke and curses. 'Fookin bussis always fookin late.' A nervous, shiny soft shoe shuffle from the suits. Headscarf, pussyfooting round her disapproval with a huff, lips pursed, tight as a cat’s arse.
No bus.

The bus-stop 7.39 -   lickspittle breeze with sleet on its tongue, sky like wet concrete, a mile of tarmac and car after car after car after car.
No bus.

The bus-stop 7.42 – queue re-united, annoyed-r-us. Early morning indifference, normally so well-rehearsed, shelved like a Victorian spinster. Shaved-Head offers Tattooed-Girl his Sun to keep her dry, Suits, Hat and Headscarf discuss the weather, tardy buses, local politicians with agendas. Cigarettes are proffered, offered, shared along with smiles and 'thank you very much, have one of mine.' Sleet desiccates on withering gusts to specks of snow. Feet stamp, lips turn blue, perms frizz, cheeks pinch.
No bus.

The bus-stop 7.45 – two buses.

(First published in Obsessed with Pipework)

© Lesley Quayle 



  1. I very much like these contrasting prose poems. The first is so painfully tender everything is tangible, I can feel and see and smell the scene – a poignant reminder for anyone who's watched a parent sinking but still with that awareness, the ability to accept what is with calmness.

    And then the second, which made me laugh, revisit my parental/grandparental Leeds and try on that accent again as I read it aloud to myself. I love its gallop and vigour; the dialogue and yes, its wryness.

    Both have the rhythm and discreet – is it assonance? – of poems, yet would sit comfortably as prose in a novel. The sort of poetic prose I like to read in novels.
    With thanks, from Miriam

  2. Miriam, I'll make sure Lesley sees this. She'll be pleased!

    Thanks. Rx

  3. Love the second one Lesley, great take on the inevitable bus poem.


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