GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Philip was born in Dunfermline and raised in Ramsgate; he has been hippie, laborer, traveler, professional student, amateur actor, and a Catholic head teacher in Lancashire.
He studied Chemistry at Edinburgh University, Humanities at The OU, and Religious Studies at Saint Martin’s College, Lancaster. His poems have won many awards in recent years.
The Poetry Society’s East Pennine STANZA has been a great support, as has Clitheroe Writers Group. Philip is prolific poet and very widely published in literary magazines, including Stand and PN Review, and is in lots of anthologies, including
those for children.
Philip has won many awards, including wins in the Teignmouth Poetry Festival poetry competition 2015, the 2005 Lancaster litfest, and the Sentinel Literary Quarterly (August) poetry competition 2014.
He came to writing through the WEA courses of Copland Smith, and with endless support from his five children and from forty years of marriage to Margaret.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: AUGUST 2017
His Usual Theft is a hope-filled poetic voyage through a landscape of failure, crime, and major natural disasters. The poet gives voice to a wonderful range of human responses to life at its most precarious.
'Philip Burton has a lot going for him as a poet: he’s got serious things to say.'
'…a precise talent for description.'
'...not derivative but immediate and deeply felt…deserves a wider audience!'
'Philip Burton is interested in words. He has a sure sense of rhythm… striking images.'
'Philip Burton’s poems are full of colour. His playful way with words can take his poems to unexpected places.'
His Usual Theft
How to Paint a Marigold
The gradation from orange to yellow
has to sing out in rotational symmetry.
A golden note has to be trumpeted too.
A great master showed me once
how to place a central blue dot
and five concentric rings of orange
in an exact mix of oil and turpentine.
A sable brush, a slick river of sunshine
flicks an arc across the deep current
of tone, like a tailgate jazz trombone,
from a low warmth to consummate flame
which, half way, somehow, is gold.
And this sfumato, this tight transition
of one colour into another is to be
repeated, petal by petal, layer on
layer with drumbeat precision
and the nimble wit of a piccolo.
No wonder I stick with what I know.
I let the music of marigolds
paint the garden. I bask in the glow.
Treadling hard on a Singer machine
the girl would often sit back and weep
to simply be spared the plaintive sight
of yet more embroidered Sweet Violet
handkerchiefs shuddering through
to be boxed and ready for World War Two.
She altered skirts for a high street store,
campaigned that the jobless be catered for
and was duly ditched from her sewing job.
Taken on by a parachute firm, she couldn’t curb
the sense she’d left undone a vital seam
in the sea of silk, and a flier had come to harm.
She knitted and threaded from door to door
with her bone basket and grubby velour.
The further she fell, the further she’d fall
but would always have cotton and needle.
She mended spent elbows, potatoes in socks –
penny a go down Saint Katharine Docks
till she dreamed of holes appearing in ships
and they’d sink, sink, for all that she stitched.
She took to night shelters, still mending
rough, trying to make good. She stripped men,
prior to plying a patch, for she’d fret
that her tacking might pierce a breast.
The magistrate judged her too simple a girl
to be charged with gross indecency, sent her
down as a vagrant. Then she gave birth to me.
His Usual Theft
His usual theft of metal
had all the approach of an egg thief
at the nest of a Golden eagle –
get in fast – get out while you’re able –
stop somewhere to wind the BR cable
and overhead wire to keep things neat
and don’t brag about your haul on Station Street.
Cross Hill nature park was an odd one –
fence-posts of chopped railway line
and a Victorian gate of entrancing construction
with a hinge made to rise on its axle
by a wheel set to climb a half circular slope
when the barrier swings into action;
a self-closing mechanism from another time.
Like the ancient River Ribble –
which balked upon a fresh moraine
left by the last Ice-age
and changed course –
he left all the metalwork
in proud place;
felt his life ratchet up a stage.
A Recent Dried Flower
I must have flowers, always, always.
– Claude Monet
No Great Worm of compost did for you
with its inner circle of digestion.
You avoided, too, slow desiccation.
No wooden press has bruised your stem.
Your colour had no time to leach away
and permanently greets us.
No prison pallor mars your freedom,
no curling cancer wrecks your petal’s rim
all thanks to one key kitchen item.
You’ve had a taste of microwave,
had the milksap creamed off
as in a hothouse Turkish hammam
showcasing the algebra of veins.
The piquant colour punch of stained glass
streams off you to the dull sky.
The Relevant Door
after Carl Sandburg
From afar, a door seems stitched on
like a blazer badge, bold as a blue beard.
The door looms, gorged by one’s entry,
expands to fill even unavailable space.
The door swings planetarily
in the orbit of the porch.
One closes it with astronomical care
but, once across the threshold,
a door dwindles, a mere thimble
after the final pin is pushed home.
A door, its moment gone, becomes
a prick in the fabric, such as on a lapel,
invisible after the wedding.