Thelma Laycock lives in Leeds. She was editor/reviewer of 'Gabriel' for eight years.  


Thelma has had three pamphlets of poetry and one full collection, 'A Persistence of Colour', published, the latter by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2011.


Her work has been commended in international competitions and she has read her work on the Sacro Monte and the Isola San Giulio in Orta, Italy, as part of the Poetry on the Lake Festival. Some poems have been translated into Hebrew, Italian, Romanian.  


During the 1990s she worked as a volunteer on Indian Reservations in South Dakota and Arizona from which experiences she drew much inspiration for her poetry.



Thelma Laycock


A Difference in Direction


ISBN 978-1-909357-61-7


Indigo Dreams Publishing




138 x 216mm


50 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK


PUB: February 2015











At Wounded Knee


I step out of the car

camera poised to take a photograph

a sense of huge loneliness

the mass graves, the prayer flags,

tobacco ties trembling

this is a sacred spot

a place to be respected

a place of tears and weeping

a place without hope.


I turn away without the photograph

and it’s then I hear a rumbling of hooves

behind me a dust-cloud approaches


the soldiers are coming.


They ride hard, the sound of gunshot’s nearer

I snatch up a small child and run with it

surrounded by women and children

we run like buffalo

a voice in my head is shouting

’They can’t get rid of us

so sometimes they have to kill us

but it’s a good day to die! Hoka-hey!’


The vision fades and I head for my hotel room

I find a newspaper

read the experience of an Iraqi woman


the soldiers are coming.







The town’s name has no importance

whether in Arizona or New Mexico

it matters little to anyone

for the man comes riding out of the sunrise

a chorus of canyons run to meet him

singing crimson and purple

his hat slants across his eyes

while the light pours amber on hair and beard

his mule turns up gold hooves


The people reach for their guns

ready to fight for their ghost of a place

for a man unlike any other has come from the shadows, mounted


When he sees the poor sleeping cold on the desert floor

he rides out to them radiant as the sunset

for he carries a vineyard of love

love to eat and drink, not only the wheat

but the grape, the red-purple, the sweetness,

every day he lifts up the cup in his hands

his star-tears slide down

washing the cross on the mule’s back

her hooves splaying silver






Movement of Roses


Mother wore red –

a scarlet jacket made by my father,

it set off her long dark hair,

the image we always remember.

We may see her again in a crimson carpet,

a robin’s breast, the glint of a ruby;

when the scent of full blown red roses

comes to us across a garden

Mother is alive, speaking,

she is moving towards us.












Birthday Wishes


She lifts the receiver,

puts it back,

today is the day

if she leaves it until tomorrow

she won’t ring.

She picks up again

dialling the strange number

who will answer?

On the third ring it is his voice

husky as an old man’s yet

exuding the same gentleness.

She speaks in English, clipped

against his singing language –

a flock of birds.

Yes, he remembers her

his health is not too bad

nor his wife’s

like old friends they talk

then end the call

as she wishes him ‘Happy Birthday’.


At night in her hotel room

the dragon of love and desire

deep in his thirty year tomb

strikes up, an unexpected cruel backlash;

she paces the room seeing dawn

over deep snow, pink and yellow

against the buildings of his city;

she settles her briefcase ready for the airport

but her mind is in an English garden,

green eyes, dark hair, white blossom above her.






A Dream of Birds


they were beautiful the little birds

golden winged, breasts like roses


rescuing them from a harsh storm

we nourished them, gave loving shelter


two of them, but how they grew,

twenty or more, voices a multitude,

beaks sharpened, lengthened,

they tore curtains, clothes,

cushions fragmented.


one day they turned on us,

defending eyes, blood dripped from arms, hands


they were beautiful the little birds

golden winged, breasts like roses





The Fjord


Light, too early for English eyes,

draws me to my window;

two mountains face me across water,

the larger outlined in gold and rose,

her daughter peak, etched in violet,

stands close to her side:

around their skirts greens mix,

the fjord calm, flat,

eau-de-nil on the near shore,

silver patched in the distance

melting ice drifting towards the sea.


Below in the rock-garden

a Franciscan sister prays,

her soft words counterpointing

with the lapping waves,

lemon in the morning’s rays.







Sea Battle  

    (after Kandinsky: 1913)


There was a moment

after the sinking of the boat

when there was silence as

we reached the bottom of the sea


there was a moment

when the storm gave us back the sky

and the clouds sent down gifts,

cerulean, blue-green, ice-blue,

crimson, purple, gold, indigo,

and men became like singing seals

claiming the ocean for themselves


we sang in that moment

and the sound held fast against the light

tiered with the water’s turquoise

men floated up like single flowers

while synaesthetic angels

plucked music, orange, lemon,

tastes at the edge of honey


when the storm came again

I was alone with the self

in the dark ocean of my soul

wretched, but rising still.  





His Coat of Moonlight


She saw him coming home

trilby hat, winter overcoat;

while he gathered moonbeams in his arms

she ran to help, scattering them across

his tailor’s workbench:

they were silver, white, blue,

they would not stay long.

With his needle he pieced them together

making a coat from shoulder to ground,

he stood before her clothed with the moon;

in the beautiful light of the night

while mother slept, she danced with him.


Now she takes his coat from memory’s wardrobe,

puts it on and steps, protected, into darkness, into tears.













“In her new collection Thelma Laycock broadens her work.  From the ambitious opening richly-peopled sequence set in the American West to the colours and reflective glints of Europe in ephrastic poems such as 'A Woman Remembers', and 'Sea Battle', and on to the wit and close observation in poems found in 'memory's wardrobe', the reader travels on a journey through subtle, intense, measured poems and prose pieces.  These are grounded in the realities of yearning and purpose, yet illuminated by vision.  They explore complex, painterly, familial themes, based both on public and private events. A beautiful, sensitive and deeply-layered collection.”












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