INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian.
She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature, and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
Heartwood takes the reader on a journey through love, loss, transformations and new beginnings, linking generations through their interactions with landscape and the wildwoods of imagination.
“There is a sort of hand-holding going on in here, the poems lead you to a precipice so that you too can look over the edge. This is a revealing book beautifully written by a writer who has a heart
and an eye firmly set on the frequency that
makes us humans tick.”
“There's gentle melancholy at the centre of Heartwood – longing felt at the turn of a season, watching the sky’s slow change from August to September. Jones guides readers through the passing of human time in the natural world, with imagery engaging all (six) of our senses.
A beautiful first book.”
“Alison Jones’ first collection is rich with music, woodlands and bursts of youth. Her poems delight and break hearts – much like a first love. Reading Heartwood, I melted into a world still inside us, awakening visceral memories of becoming
ourselves. Jones creates a beautiful, fresh
and urgent work of art.”
In summer time, head to the cemetery,
out around nine o’clock, where birches drip the days
and you’re freshly plucked and razored
into what you think is your best self.
You’re meeting friends, supposed to be going
out with a boy, some years older than you
and you don’t know his last name, but covet
his leather gloves and biker jacket, para boots
with stories to tell. Your friends have sticky palms
and cider on their breath, the ground is flecked
with rollies; it’s August and you are still young,
until September comes and moves everyone on.
You kiss the boy on the cheek, maybe take it a little further,
fingers in zippers and the soft sounds of birds,
a gnat swarm suddenly veils you, a graveyard bride,
or a gothic pop-song caricature of yourself.
Later, you lie on the earth and play dead.
Imagine what it would be like to spill into the soil,
while others tell themselves that everything will be ok.
Night rises, fix up your lipstick, kiss the boy
on the cheek again, say thank you,
because that’s what your mother taught you;
that manners are as important,
as the way that you live.
It was the hunger for sensations,
to try the body at what it can do;
amber light, smoke rising from your mouth,
a crackle of charred papers, sparks flying.
We speak in voices that expect to be nothing,
charcoal choked like blackened buds,
ashed to the open air, with our uncertain laughter
sure that nothing had happened. It didn’t work
yet I remember now, how happy we were
to try, to become something else.
We live in the country, so we hang out in fields,
with bottles and guitars, cappoed a half tone higher.
Picks like teeth shining as blue skies fall into night.
Side by side, handprints pressing the place into us,
blossoms dropping on red earth. We are only visitors,
exiled with the wind, hair flying like prayers,
with water colour animals surfing green waves.
Fingers pluck the time we know, beached inland
with a pool of sky, looking down through layers
of trampled ancestors. Music reveals the heart,
lifts us into sleep, beneath the hollow hills
where we are safe, nobody will harm us.
Forests feel no fear,
the miles go on,
so many behind us.
Fear not, you are
who you are, until you forget
where your shadow falls.
Jump into the lower branches,
open your arms wide,
to gather in the trees,
when the moon goes out
you will know the way.
Your hands will give you,
a second chance, don’t be afraid
to empty yourself of sound,
try to be alive for longer.
Failing is fine, the best part
of the heartwood is where
you are going, with dead friends,
passing through like falling mist,
tune out, tap in.
Behind the fallen willow,
his heart rattles in her hands,
copper light grazes her fingers,
go ahead, he thinks, it is yours.
They are heavy with summer,
like shade sheltering deer,
senses always cocked for danger,
ready to open their breath
amongst tree roots, to shout the earth,
from the confines of footfall.
Go ahead, he thinks, take it.
She will come near enough to him
to catch the scent of his mother,
who quietly prays, and raises him
closer, who lifts her eyes to the sky.
Her hands clasp the smallest measure,
the wetness rhymes beneath her fingers,
orange morning framing them,
bending together in the carcass of a tree,
the way the hunted have hidden for
thousands of years; reclining;
drinking their fill.
Wake them, in blue light,
when earth’s bones are glowing,
drill the memories into twining limbs,
pull them inside. They have
a way with words, a way
of chinking into the soul,