INDIGO DREAMS

PUBLISHING LTD

 

SOMETHING AND NOTHING

Lynn Woollacott was born in 1955, left school at 15, married at 16, had her first child at 17, moved to the Norfolk coast at 18.

 

Whilst bringing up two children and working many jobs she studied with Adult Education and went on to obtain a degree with the Open University.

 

Jobs ranged from sewing buttons on cardigans to working as a lab technician in an all girl’s school, then settled teaching children about the environment at various outdoor centres (fresh water studies, woodland studies and beach studies.

 

Lynn holds three recent Diplomas and a Post Graduate Certificate with the University of East Anglia.

 

She has been published and regularly won prizes poetry in many of the small press magazines including Poetry News and Feature Poet in Orbis 151.  

 

She has performed at libraries, local events and Cafe Writer’s, Norwich.

 

This is her first full collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Something and Nothing

 

ISBN 978-1-907401-42-8

 

Indigo Dreams Publishing

 

Poetry  DCF

 

Paperback perfect bound

 

148x210mm

 

60 pages

 

£6.50  + P&P   U.K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Lynn Woollacott is aware of the music of language and the dramatic effect of rhythm and line breaks.

Helen Ivory

 

 

‘Fairy-tale realism, harsh and bitter-sweet  . . . these poems gleam and glitter with the magic counter-language of childhood: rats, mice, gold stars, soot, dolls, birds, packets of tea, the works outing, the cabbage patch, the cry of the rag-and-bone man, the sea . . .’ Anna Reckin.

Of Mice

 

A fur trimmed hood shields her brother’s face,

but not the sound of slicing spade

through the system of tunnels

that weave by the garden hedge.

 

Crushed prints of size ten boots

halt where he kneels,

strings of his parka

hang in dew-wet grass,

 

his hands enclose six,

naked and blind in the orange bucket,

clawless hands and feet

that paw in useless dog paddle.

 

Pink bodies sink, tiny bubbles rise.

The count rises. He drains the water,

lifts the dustbin lid, pours the contents,

they fall like clumps of soft, pink clay.

 

Tucked under his parka

he shakes out a matted sack,

stalks the fresh ground like a poacher

fishing in the tunnels for his prey.

 

The red glow of a cigarette

burns his lungs by paper thin leaves.

As smoking chimneys blend with grey

a smog blanket holds back the stars.

 

The booty bites the sack as he strides

alongside the hawthorn edge.

Something grey drops by an allotment shed,

another by a stack of hay. He doesn’t hear

 

the soft thuds or see the knee high leaps

of splayed feet, nor their landing

and scurrying into brown leafy heaps.

By the river he shuffles the writhing mass

 

into speed of flow, hears the splash

and sees a white owl’s gliding silence

as a hundred mice paddle for the bank,

a blaze of piebald among the grey.

 

 

 

 

Rats

 

The shed which housed the rats,

which placed their feet in her palms,

ran inside her white sleeves,

snuggled between waist and blouse,

ate biscuits on her shoulder,

and responded to her calls,

was out of bounds now,

and so very quiet and serene.

 

 

 

 

Morning Soot

 

The amber light flickers

and for a moment the blackbird stops singing,

a frog hurries to the pond

before a fisherman boots him

as bats fly to roost under the bridge

beneath the grey slag heaps.

The pit wheels are still turning

in the dark-ink sky.

My shadow creeps downstairs before me,

something shuffles the soft ashes

of the fireplace, my escaped hamster

leaving tiny footprints over orange lino,

I leave him to breathe in freedom

till I get back from my morning round.

 

The smoky air suspends

little black snowflakes, dampened,

sticking to your skin and hair.

A coal miner’s spitting in the coarsie,

his greyhound cocks a leg on a car tyre,

a red double-decker bus pulls to the shelter

for factory workers warming their mechanical arms.

The light turns pink under the Squinting Cat,

creaking his fiddle like an abandoned child’s swing

in the park when it’s stormy.

A cat’s-paw is blowing the soot away.

There is blue, faint and distant

like bread and jam without butter,

you can sense it and know the richness

even when it’s far away.

There’s a swan in the pond, the first ever

everyone’s talking about it; they say it’s a sign

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Smile

 

Sister said,

mam smiled once

when her sister visited

one Christmas.

But there was that time

in the park

when she turned

a somersault

over the bars,

her flame red hair spiked,

her frown lines broke even,

and the white side lifted

an all topsy-turvy

tummy tickled flip-side

of the clouds.

 

 

The Ashman

 

The Ashman shuffled the soft grey peaks,

shoveled days into seasons.

Sometimes his distant silhouette stood

on a ridge, shovel over his shoulder,

ash clouds rising around his boots.

The volatile sky above him changed

as rapidly as the pattern of troughs

that the winds murmured and hollered.

 

The Ashman’s clothes flapped in the scorching sun,

and when snowflakes stormed but never settled

on his crusted hands or his grey flowing hair.

They say he walked where a child could slip

into a pocket and disappear

to a core of molten ash and burn in hell,

but there was no child’s name to speak of.

 

The Ashman appeared recently,

shovel over his shoulder,

he stood on a distant green ridge

draped in rowan berries,

it was difficult to see where he began

and where branches ended.

They say it’s impossible to count

all the saplings he’s planted

in the top-soiled over saddle-backs

of slag heaps, carpeted now

with undergrowth of creeping brambles.

They say he walks through them

without breaking a single stem

 

 

 

 

 

On the Plus Side

 

Six folded bread slices for breakfast

jam spread so thick

you could measure it with your thumb,

she would watch as red blobs

oozed between her brother’s fingers

and dribbled down his chin.

He easily managed the same at tea-time.

 

When the jars were empty

he squirted tomato sauce inside,

and when the bottle was done

he’d fill it with cold water,

shake, and drink.

 

She collected paper golliwog badges

and posted them off for metal ones,

She had several collections

stored in a shoe box

wrapped in blue velvet under her bed.

 

Her mam recycled wax bread paper,

wrapped it around bread and cheese

neatly put in a snap tin,

 

snapped shut

 

sitting on the table

five nights a week,

sometimes loitering for a day

or two or three.

In clear weather

slipped in her father’s fishing basket

while his work jacket remained

pegged behind the door.

Bread and jam for tea again then

all the next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Tins

 

Tins for the firing range

stacked like a deck of cards,

tins for the alley game

bodies slugged, lids hard,

tins for the walkie-talkies

stringed by a central line,

tins for the stilts

a clown clonking climb,

tins for the newts

filled to the brim,

tins for the runner beans

pink seeds pressed in,

tins for the money box

shaken every day,

tins for the marble slots

keeping boredom at bay,

tinnitus for the ears

slapped by angry cuffs

bringing dried up tears

at every slapstick buff.

 

Cinders in the Kitchen

 

Bird in the oven crackling in a roast pan;

flames in the oven flick gracelessly

with blue tongues. Smoke in the house –

she shifts herself slipping

on hot-fat-on-the-lino. Inspired

by young thoughts she awards herself

a swig for a prize of shape-shifting

the sherry and for knowing that water

and grease send up fireworks,

and she ends up landing the turkey

on the hearth, reciting grace.

All’s well that ends well. Another swig

for being brave. Questions will come

later; her head is on feathers,

where she vows to turn over a new leaf

before passing out at the sight of

two mice on the sweeping brush

 

 

 

 

The Hare in the Woods

 

Wizened horse chestnuts and overlords of oak

dally with a canopy of glorious beeches,

knotted roots intertwine so everything

touches, and offers from silver birch balcony

a view of the long limbs of the leveret

protruding behind a tuft of bracken,

the way he moves like a rabbit in a hat

contortioned in slippery silks,

his restless feet and twitching ears

sparkle like honey-dewed satin,

his dark eyes reflect the perspective.

Nose as sensitive as a sniffer dog,

he’s done the wire border, the electric gate,

he has to circumnavigate the way he entered.

The common sense of habitats,

squirrels feathering alongside tree creepers,

bats in dormitories, mice in mazes,

a zillion insects under sawn-off logs,

she dismisses the illusionist and saves his grinning image

as a figment of imagination, to share later,

and conjure the tale of the wandering navigator.

 

 

 

 

Rubato

 

The beautiful recorder

with white tipped lips, that she could

manoeuvre her fingers over holes

that left imprints in fingertips

and her breath made drips

of spit on lino. Fast play

and half covered holes didn’t mask

 

the skeletal dining chair,

silent in the air, thud against the wall,

crumble like a pile of sticks,

or the slamming door, or her mam’s

crumpled back, or the angry air

you could carve with a curse

of imaginary lines that held

the tension, expanding black

and blue like her mam’s hand

and bent little fingers.

 

She ducks beneath imaginary lines.

The output drips and disperses

evaporates through walls and bricks

and creeps upstairs where her precious recorder

so brittle when hit against the sill

lies broken in two, hidden under

her brother’s bed. She runs to get ice.

Lynn Woollacott photo 9781907401428 9781907401428