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Deseeded Vol. 3

Deseeded Vol. 3


This anthology is dedicated to the memory of Julia Darling. She was amazing and you can find out more about her here. These poems were written in 2015 in response to her 2005 Guardian Poetry Workshop.

All rights reserved. All writers have exerted their moral rights in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

Cover: Detail from Over Hollinside by Daniel Stone


How do I become the very ground? Jane Burn


How to Love a Solipsist Kirsten Luckins


Spring gurgles, and shrugs E.E. Nobbs


How to see a gene mutation Catherine Ayres


How to be a Fox Stephanie Green


How to Build a Garden Valerie Morton


How to be a wrestler Ann Cuthbert


How to survive the spring without your grandchild Mary Anne Perkins


How to scale a wall of grief Lisa Matthews


Should you be directed to the lost and found but aren’t sure which one applies to you Laura Tansley 10 How to tell your son he has no friends Natalie Shaw


How to make a stained glass window Rob Walton




How do I become the very ground?

I have this need for fields. For the way they sink me, pull me footwards – root yourself, they offer. This swallowing of my boots, lodged in clunching cheeks - they chew a welcome around my feet. Spring is coming. I open my dirty coat like a tree-bud, unzipping canvas scales, showing humps of breast to the front of the sun. I am a furly Comfrey bloom. I wish to wear a crown of bumble bees upon my head, to offer their mouths my honey hair. Be rested on our sponge of moss. The horses, bedded down in splints of light have learned this – groan their utter pleasure in this heated fur, ask no more of the afternoon.

Jane Burn


How to Love a Solipsist

Speak to them as you would a cheeseplant, Happy in the half-belief that they will respond To your generic croodling with a waxy quiver. Imagine each venom-green leaf uncoils In the light of your loving blandishments. Hold this pleasing thought like a screen, while Air-roots grope for purchase on the laminate, Every tough, hairy gangler another bag of soil Down the trouser leg. Invest in a bigger pot. Admire their tenacity, resolve to emulate Their endless will to power. Take to perching At one end of the sofa to accommodate them. Put the sofa on Gumtree. Kneel in the corner, Circumspect as the newly apostate, picturing Their death without you. Picture too the Earth Reclaimed by a blindly marching jungle. Leave them behind when you move out.

Kirsten Luckins


Spring gurgles, and shrugs

off our shrinking wimple of stained snow – shoves the remnants of the old Canadian winter back behind the spruce hedge in the reeds down by the rushing creek where it can stay left to soak out of sight – oh sure, it will need hours of bleaching to be made white again, to be laundered and starched some cold nights next fall, but who cares a damn about that distant chore this bright morning.

E.E. Nobbs

listen to E.E. read this poem


How to see a gene mutation

In the crackling dome of suds rising from a plughole. In a line of cats’ eyes blinking through fog. In the strange crawl of a wasps’ nest. In rain prickling a windscreen. In jackdaws fattening a bare tree, their black buds sharp against twilight’s scars.

Catherine Ayres


How to be a Fox

Wear orange. If you’re a red-head, or just ginger, all the better. Black stilettos and mittens are compulsory. Fur or lace. Avoid synthetics. Lie low. Hole up in the foetid rank of your squatters’ flat, suckle your litter of squawlers, catch up on your shut-eye. Dusk to dawn is your time. Attend soirées to sharpen your teeth. Dance on dustbin lids, but never forget you’re a loner. As if. Slink along vennels and wynds, slip through the fireweed of edgelands, the buddleia sagging with its voluptuous weight, the secret pathways of rhododendron. Leave a trail of eau de charnel-house and drains. Look up at the stars struggling in the polluted night. Let your cry escape from the dark of your throat.

Stephanie Green

listen to Stephanie read this poem


How to Build a Garden

Use the tools your father handed you – patience to sit and pause to note which way the winds blow, where shadows fall and how the rain can be captured. Plant your fingers over his prints on the trowel, construct a wall, send it curling towards the wicket gate that unfurls into fields where the horses graze. Lay a wandering path, fashion beds, heel in exotic plants and vegetables; set them randomly, avoiding regimental lines. When they bloom hold up the strange fruits to the sky and imagine clouds checked in flight raising eyebrows in awe, as though they're seeing you for the first time, moving on through changing seasons.

Valerie Morton


How to be a wrestler

Get naked. Strip off – feel the air on your skin. Shave off all your body hair – start at the scalp – let the razor mow, lifting off slices. You can spare eyebrows but not forearms, oxters, pubes track down your legs, even those wiry ones on your big toes must come off. Now, you’re streamlined – nothing to hang onto – but, just to be sure, grab the olive oil, pour a libation to the gods of duck and dodge, let it trickle down your smoothness, flash your intention to slip through their hands. Don't be tempted to wear clothes, not even a singlet, not even if you paid for it yourself. It can be used as leverage. A mask, however a skull, a bald shop-dummy head - is fine. Take advice from angels. Not the pretty ones – pick one who’s grappled on a mountain top. He might leave you limping but you’ll learn tenacity. Now you’re ready. But be aware it’s hand-to hand – you need to get in close before you skip away.

Ann Cuthbert


How to survive the spring without your grandchild

Make up your mind to find one photograph and sit with it. Do this as often as you can until you feel ready to lift the album down and open it with steady hands. Forget spring-cleaning. Beware of opening cupboards in case that car he lost comes tumbling out and smashes through the day. Sit in the sun, letting it melt your frost. Don't dwell on how good the garden looked last year when he was trampling daffodils, tenderly picking off their heads. Let go of friends afraid to say his name who show you videos of family holidays. Spend Christmas out in space or under ground. Go deep-sea diving on his birthday. Next time you see a child whose hair and age is a perfect match, tell yourself firmly it isn't him. Go home and play the maddening song he had to hear each visit. Put on the hat with flaps that made him laugh and dance your heart out to the music.

Mary Anne Perkins


How to scale a wall of grief

I wanted to make it clear that this task can be done So I began a first ascent And it all went wrong. Well, not wrong – exactly, but awry And I am wary Of promising a salve to your wind-worn heart Or your ragged finger ends In the garden a wood pigeon calls to its mate The blossom from the tree falls The blossom is red And I know you know what that means Everything is symbolic and the life I worked hard To create and maintain – I know now, as you do – Is nothing more than a series of interconnecting shadows Truth has shown unparalleled sleights of hand And if someone doesn’t come to stop me soon I shall rip up the pavement and swallow the clouds I shall open my chest and fill it with bricks Yes, that would be best

Lisa Matthews


Should you be directed to the lost and found but aren’t sure which one applies to you

Pay attention; don’t be a passenger in your own life. Feel your pulse; you’re right where you’re supposed to be. This must be the place. Forget that feeling like your brother’s caught you at the bottom of a duvet cover. You’ve never been properly lost, not since primary school. And if you can’t compass yourself or read your memoir in a map you could try to ask other people but why not avoid the vituperation? Text someone and tell them you made it. Text and tell them you’re ok being separated. You aren’t a left glove, a broken brolly, a coat. You have a jacket, plus it’s mild and dry out. Remember your bearings are just memories and if you’ve had a good feeling taking a fork or turning right: my hunch is these are just hunches.

Laura Tansley

listen to Laura read this poem


How to tell your son he has no friends

You will get the first bit wrong: he won’t be able to meet your eye. In the dark, you will hold his hand and stroke his hair. Forget the things you said this morning. Forget the things you said this morning. Take him to the pool and swim together. He’ll start off scared, you can take your time. Unwrap him gently, hold him in the water. Together you’ll watch the water slap with light; it will start to sparkle up through your tummies; you can laugh, first him, then you. Your cracked-up shells are smoothing over, your scrambled bits are safe inside again. Go back, back in the dark and touch his outline, the shape of who he is, the gap that spools and spools around his shadow. Tell him it’s your gap too, tell him, tell him. Hear him breathe.

Natalie Shaw

listen to Natalie read this poem


How to make a stained glass window

Sit on a comfortable stool at a spacious workbench. Think of light and colour and never of stains. Have everything to hand. Keep pictures in your head. Let the light in. Take molten rubies and pour between strips of cold lead. Dab emerald magma here and there. Use sapphires sparingly. Let the light in. Think of religious purpose. Stop thinking of religious purpose. Think of saints and sinners. Think of harmony and horror. Let your thoughts inform your work. Let the pictures out of your head. Let the light in. Let in the light.

Rob Walton




Catherine Ayres lives in Northumberland. Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online magazines, including Butcher’s Dog, Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Moth. She recently won third prize in the 2015 Hippocrates Prize. Some of her poems will be published in pamphlet form by Black Light Engine Room later this year. Jane Burn has had poems published in a variety of magazines, including previous issues of Butcher's Dog, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Alliterati, The Black Light Engine Room, Lunar Poetry and Obsessed with Pipework. Her work has appeared in The Emma Press and Kind of a Hurricane Press, and was longlisted in the 2014 Canterbury Poet of the Year and National Poetry Competitions and was commended in the Yorkmix. Ann Cuthbert writes poetry and short stories, mainly for her own diversion although she has had several pieces published both online and in print. She is one of Darlington’s Bennett House Writers and, with the Tees Women Poets group, has discovered she enjoys performing her poems for live audiences. Stephanie Green has an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Glasgow University (2004). Her pamphlet Flout inspired by Shetland is published by HappenStance (2015). Her novel for teenagers The Triple Spiral was published by Walker Books (1989). Originally a Londoner, she has lived in Cornwall, Wales and since 2000, Edinburgh. Kirsten Luckins is a poet and performer from Teesside. She was recently shortlisted for the Wenlock International Poetry Prize. Her collection, The Trouble with Compassion, is out with Burning Eye in 2016, hopefully accompanied by a show. She is poet-in-residence at Hartlepool's maritime history project, and is writing her first play. Poetry blog: | Theatre and film criticism: Lisa Matthews is a poet currently developing a new collaborative sci-art project inspired by the Northumberland coastline. She has published three books of poems, has a new collection, with Vane Women Press, coming out in autumn 2015 and is working on a book of prose-poems that will be published in 2017. Valerie Morton has been published in a number of magazines and placed in several poetry competitions. After completing an OU degree in 2011 she has run a CW workshop with a mental health charity. Her first collection Mango Tree was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2013 and her second collection Handprints will be published later in 2015. E. E. Nobbs lives in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The prize for winning the Doire Press Second Annual International Poetry Chapbook Contest (2013) was the publication of her first poetry collection, The Invisible Girl (available direct from the poet via her website). @ellyfromearth


Mary Anne Perkins' collection Shadow-Play was published by Indigo Dreams Press (2009). She has been published in anthologies and journals, short-listed three times in the Bridport competition, runner-up in the Fish International competition (2008), commended in the Gregory O'Donaghue competition (2010) and in the Basil Bunting Competition (2013). Natalie Shaw's poetry can be found in a variety of journals and anthologies. She lives in London with children of varying ages and has a patient and kind husband. She writes sporadically at Laura Tansley's writing has appeared in Butcher's Dog, The Island Review (with Amy Mackelden and Jon Owen), Kenyon Review Online (with Micaela Maftei), lowercase lit, New Writing Scotland, The Ostrich Review, PANK and she is co-editor of Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form. She lives and works in Glasgow. Rob Walton is a writer and performer from Scunthorpe, who now lives in North Shields. His short stories have appeared in IRON Press, Red Squirrel, New Writing North, Arachne, and Shelter anthologies. Rob wrote the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text, and his poetry has been published by Firewords Quarterly, Appletree Writers, Northern Voices and Butcher’s Dog.


Rob Walton is a writer and performer from Scunthorpe, who now lives in North Shields. His short stories have appeared in IRON Press, Red Squirrel, New Writing North, Arachne, and Shelter anthologies. Rob wrote the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text, and his poetry has been published by Firewords Quarterly, Appletree Writers, Northern Voices and IRON Press.

Š Deseeded


Deseeded Volume 3  

An anthology featuring poems by Catherine Ayres, Jane Burn, Ann Cuthbert, Stephanie Green, Kirsten Luckins, Lisa Matthews, Valerie Morton, E...