SA20DNCB250BE Brynmill//Burwell


Christopher Cornwell


– for Ian Kalinowski


In Swansea,

the seagulls rest like grudges on ridges

cl filament solder scar fuse last rim of light fusing :

a rivulet of milk in a crease of leather.

The Methodist church huddles the hunch

like grandmother washing lettuce,

unaware of being watched,

the arcs of mews barnacle its shoulder

pulled by, fuelled by, the fuel:

the strong-smelling lost for things,

the dead bodies lodged and rotting

between the bars of drains.

squawk their insanitary poem,

fish-wet regal throat & garble

talk about the gilded end of the gutter,

circling above the cycle paths and steel works.


back in the fen

a single tree blossoms like a belly-fat candle bunting-nest wreathes and barren fields

of abandoned outbuildings.

All there is left to take is an armful of gritty leeks

sneaked off the edge of a field,

food, otherwise, to be ploughed back in

buried in

the layers of silt, clay and peat,

revolving over years like wheels.


Hand-made house inside a home hides Rex asleep, wingback, relent, declined, alone, well-versed manual in hand, dreaming of changing long lapsing between past salads and old-age days; of warm damp spring, buzzing; the brittle in the sin of winter;

whilst the witnesses stand wishing we still had the time

to dredge,

to fish out a man,

save the last bog oak

or drain the fen entirely,

if need be,

if that would mean we could find him,


waiting for revival

as dark begins. Dark begins

beating the bushes,

and the animals wonder

at what point this might

become a dangerous place,

take cover, rest one eye.


Outside the empty barges are nodding

in the cold fenland night,

gently rolling their shoulders,

creaking and floating

in some secret languishing

like the limitless land of the fens

loaded with baskets, unanchored

in the lode.


Christopher Cornwell lives, studies and works in Swansea. His poetry has been featured in The Lonely Crowd, New Welsh Review, The Crunch, The Lampeter Review and Wales Arts Review for whom he also contributes criticism. He is Editor of The Gull online magazine. Ergasy is his first collection and may be purchased here and here. Christopher will be reading from Ergasy at our forthcoming event in Dublin.

© Christopher Cornwell, 2018. Image © Jo Mazelis, 2018.