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138 x 216mm


60 pages


£9.50 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-912876-36-5


PUB: 01/10/2020










Owl Unbound


Zoe Brooks





‘Owl Unbound’ examines nature and humanity in a wide range of settings; from a stag beetle on a suburban fence to fossils on a Somerset beach, from a Cotswold roofer “tiptoeing the thin laths” to a bag lady in Covent Garden “dancing at the amplifier's right hand”.


Whilst there is tender joy and love in the collection, there is also anger and loss.  





Owl Unbound


First we found the snake

a ball of coiled skin and muscle

in a pickling jar at the base of the hedge.


I followed my father up

the outside stair to the stable loft,

on one side the railway signal

without a track,

on the other a brick wall,

pocked as the moon,

that would crumble

like cheese in the rain

under the thud of my ball

and send it flying sideways

escaping me.


The tread creaked as my father entered

and I followed into the dim.

I looked around, but saw

only an empty perching post.

The owl had gone with its master.


At my father’s instruction

I held out my hands

as if ready to receive bread and wine,

but into my bowl of fingers

he dropped a pellet,

a galaxy of small bones and feathers

cocooned in fur.


That night I woke.

The moon shredded by clouds

hung over the stable roof

and an owl called unbound

from the cypress tree.



The Lost Daughter


The female body is 55% water. The rest is dust.


The fullness in the throat will not be cleared.

Deep in the night,

when the farm dogs clamour at the moon,

the throat tightens and contracts.

Under the floorboards

the dark heaves and swells.

This fullness, this emptiness.

You clear your throat,

and still the dark swells.

You have dust in your throat.

Whose dust?

Whose dust rises in moonlight?

Whose dust lies upon lungs,

clogs veins, fills your head with fears?

There are so many images

that in the night sidle between the sheets.

In the day perhaps they can be put aside,

wiped from the window like condensation.

You rise and rinse her out of your throat.

But then the dust gathers again

and the panes mist over.

The drops join and begin to flow.



Zoe Brooks worked with disadvantaged communities in London and East Oxford before returning to her native Gloucestershire to write and grow vegetables.


Zoe has been widely published in print and online magazines and appeared in the anthology 'Grandchildren of Albion'.


Her long poem 'Fool's Paradise' won the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition award for best poetry ebook 2013.

Naunton Farm


Sometimes, still, I come across

your death again.

As I sign executor’s deeds,

calculating interest

that is beneath interest,

I discover my mother’s words –

“He died today.”

And the shock of it

makes my hand pause.

My hand reaches down

to the little cat

with no ears,

which rubs against my ankle crying.

You had hands big enough

to hold that cat

in your palm,

carrying her

away from the burning barn.



The Forest


Caught in the spiral of notes, she


Captured in the lock of time, she

was agitated.

So in the density, she

sought herself.

In the perplexity of leaves,

hanging like men, she

clung to her faith.

One by one the leaves fell, she

was alone again.

The dew rose, she



The leaves relaxed on the branches, she

was accustomed.

They hung like veils over widows’ faces, she

listened to their words.

The seasons rose like four suns, and she

was contented.



Light on the Marriage Bed


Light askant

through ash leaves

like water shine

on my empty sheets.

I lean to smooth

the cotton down.

I am smoothing the sea

and I smell you in it,

as I would smell salt

and the flood.



Zoe Brooks amend 9781912876365

“Robert Frost described poetry as ‘a way of taking life by the throat’, and the fearless, vivid and immensely lyrical poems in 'Owl Unbound' do just that. A masterful collection of poems by an extraordinary poet.”

Anna Saunders  


“There are so many lines here that stick with me and continue to unfold. Language that is fresh and unexpected, that gives us that inner nod of recognition.”

Angela France