Four new poems by Steve Xerri


Llyn Tecwyn Isaf


One step from the car we find ourselves

on an inland shore, our chat brought to a hush

by the quiet of the saint’s pool, its surface

hatched with a scrawl of reeds, the whole

held in the land’s hollow palm.


Holiness is not the sole preserve

of the godfearing : we, too, sense it –

this place throbs with the connection

of all things from horizon to horizon,

so deep that the slightest leaf-stir

might cause the universe to rock,

its branching possibles vibrating

on the inward tree of the nervous system.


Under the dome of sky, the dome of skull,

we feel the hosts of lives that cannot be

because we are, thronging close

to witness through our eyes

the daylight flaking on the hallowed lake,

everything ripe for time to make a halt.


It does not. But driving on we feel

a fullness, loving the taste of the life

we have, not godless but god-free, alive

to the wonder of the plaque of water

pinned by the heads of floating lilies

to this place on the map, as if

waiting (the ‘as if’ is crucial)

for us to pull up here, and look.






Thinking on Coldhams Common



With one genetic script to write

every tapered grassblade, plus

a single rule-set describing

the forces that shape each

dewdrop, you could generate

this entire wet grassland –

a mass of rhyming forms that catch

unnumbered samples of sunlight

and make diamond of them on this

ordinary Tuesday morning.


As my toecaps trace a diagonal

through line after line

of tussocks, I almost collide

with a boy wheeling his bike

towards me, slurring dark trails

into the field’s brightness, his eyes

hidden by mirror-shades, head

lost in a blizzard of treble spilling

from his earbuds. For the record,

neither of us says a word.






Blackcap, Sussex
for J.H.


Might we two always

have known this place

with its twayblades

and viburnum, the mottled

leaves and purple spikes

of its sheltering orchids?

Did moments fall

dense as these do,

faintly spiced

with pollen

and fungus,

in a tent of stillness

anchored to these trees?

And were we maybe

this same flesh

on different bones,

bodying other versions

of companionship?

Allow me

my foolish questions :

hard else to tolerate

our endstopped

mammal time,

tramping yearly

up these hill paths,

slowly getting slower,

in hopeful search

of greened-up shoots

eternally returning.










We need not, it turns out, have worried

about the bees : here comes the answer,

a squadron of honeybots in formation,

hovering the grid across row-planted fields,

brushing tufts of nylon against anthers

genetically lengthened for a better fit.

With abdomen enamelled in smart hoops

of black and yellow, the workers

now servicing our fields are drones,

fully programmable, stingless,

untroubled by pests and disease.




Wake up, get the dream down

on paper, quick, before it goes :

on a windless day in a city garden

a cloud of longstemmed lavender

dips its flowerheads in repeated waves

under the weight of foragers

arriving on magnetic flightpaths

despite the crisscross of wifi –

amber honeybees leathery smooth,

bumblebees with buff rump fluff,

tawny miners with their foxfur crest,

all of them long-tongued, pollen-laden,

suddenly gone, the lavender stilled.




Imagine a bee memorial

in some quiet glade,

a necropolis of sisters

lying in line upon tier

of mummifying cells,

lapped in their own wings :

a sculpted hive of gold,

and lead, and ash.





Steve Xerri is a former teacher, musician & designer who now spends his time making pots and writing poetry. He was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017, and his work has been published or is forthcoming in AcumenAmaryllisAtrium, Brittle Star, Cinnamon anthology From Hallows to HarvestClear PoetryEnvoiInk Sweat and Tears, Ó Bhéal anthology Five Words Vol XIIThe Interpreter’s HousePicaroonThe Poetry ShedPoetry Society NewsletterProletarian PoetryStride Magazine and Words For The Wild.


The header photograph of the South Downs is by the author.

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