Three Ways of Looking at a Tree




by Jos Smith


We were looking for your best side,

a single photograph that captured HAWTHORN

an image that said CLIFFTOP ENDURANCE

or showed on a calm blue day

the loose direction of a decade’s wind.


What we found were these berries

the colour of dried blood

– here take them, have them, they are yours, anyone’s –

while the spirit of the tree passed out below,

sifting back down through the earth.


Whose black skeleton is this left here then?

Whose troubled silhouette,

home from home for Sweeney working his claws?

Who will remember these blackening berries

as the blind Atlantic wind swallows them whole?






by Jeremy Over


It seems to hang lifelessly now in midsummer leaf

but here comes the wind moving through the fields of barley

like a pack of hounds on the trail of a day

when the same tree was loud


with an anxiety of winter thrushes

which, as I approached, made it breathe in

and then just let go, giving everything up:

the full deck of cards spread out, hand over hand.





by Ben Smith


Now I appear in beams,

now in door-frames, the edges

of bookcases and chairs.


I don’t know why I am inside,

in drawers, in wardrobes,

in floorboards’ warped whorls.


Nothing but flat surfaces,

no boles or branches.

And varnish, Christ! My face


compressed, contorted,

eyes sealed open and nothing to do

but stare at ceilings,


willing the wood to grow.

Nothing to look forward to but the sun

drying my mouth into a crooked grin.


Time is sanded down, one day

into another. I split

through paint on window sills;


splinters bloom, while outside

the first leaves unfurl.

Somewhere, the first leaves unfurl.





Jeremy Over lives and works in Cockermouth, Cumbria. He has had poems published in various magazines and anthologies and in 2002 won the BBC wildlife poetry competition. His two collections are ‘A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese’ (Carcanet 2001) and ‘Deceiving Wild Creatures’ (Carcanet 2009).


Jos Smith is a freelance researcher, writer and poet currently working on a history of the arts and environmental charity Common Ground (funded by the British Academy). He lives in north Dorset.


Ben Smith has recently completed a PhD in Environmental Poetics at Exeter University. He now works as a freelance editor and occasional lecturer. His poetry, criticism and short fiction have appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies. His first pamphlet of poetry will be published by Worple Press in 2014. He is currently working on a poetry collection about wolves. He blogs at

1 Comment

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Carol Jayereply
March 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm

So glad to have read this on a quiet night alone in the house by the sea after the clapping had ceased

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