Two new poems by Mark Waters

This month Little Toller publishes Paul Kingsnorth’s new book, Savage Gods. For this series on The Clearing Paul invited poets, writers and artists from across the world to respond in their own way to a simple, one-word theme: transformation. The result is a series of explorations, in words and images, of the alchemical cycle of change: breakdown, rebirth and renewal. These new poems are by Mark Waters.



The Flood Defences


I think there is a gravity which baffles Newton

and all who follow Urizen to his scientific cell.

I feel this gravity lift me, pull me,

part me from the paths I trod before.

I feel I orbit a new star

my dark side is revealed.

An ocean swells in the sockets of my eyes.

A tidal wave rolls unseen between my bony coast of ribs.

(all that caged water I call my heart and lungs and vital organs.)

The gravity of the dead,

the celestial bodies of the living.

They make an apple fall, a tree, a rock for that matter.

The spirit leaves the apple, the tree, the rock,

and they fall.

It gives them soul.

A mother falls down on the ground.

Her husband tries to lift her.

The gravity of the gone.

The lost.

The fallen to the floor.

For always.

For ever.

It lifts the oceans too


and I suppose, likewise,

it lifts my thoughts,

my salty thoughts,

and they throw themselves further up the beach

towards the flood defences.




Wet feet and green souls


You come to me now

as I dance.

I raise my arms

to the starlings

and here you are


trying not to laugh

trying to join in

as we circle

on the grass square

in front of this old Italian villa.

Soon I am weeping quietly

to never see your loving face again

to hear your laugh, etc., etc.,

missing you even

in your presence,

even as I laugh.

One hundred and eight

names of God

line the drive north

from the villa.

At dawn and dusk

their divine shadows fall

across the white gravel

for here they are cypress trees

but elsewhere what a catastrophe,

the names we give to God.

I am fifty four

and already have difficulty

remembering names

but I remember there is a space

between left and right

like the grass that grows

between the gravel tire ruts.

I can see the Pole star

above the drive at midnight

like a distant train that never arrives.

We dance around a forgotten fountain

imperceptible now beneath the grass.

The musicians play from memory

inside a little red speaker.

There is a spring, a pantheon, nearby

where Romans perceived the goddess Venus

resonating vital within its rocks and waters.

H320, they were right,

it is a different element than tap water.

The church has the pantheon

under ongoing renovation

nevertheless we drink deeply

and laugh at all surprises.

Where are you? I’m sorry. I always ask.

It’s rude to interrupt the flow, but,

Where are you my girl? Do I merely imagine all this?

The grass is pressed with each step of our dance.

We can’t help it. We’ve tried walking barefoot on the gravel.

Gravity hurts.

While we gaze at our waving arms

or the one in front who knows what to do,

a scent, a fragrance of clover,

of soil rising…

wet feet and green souls.



Mark Waters is an actor and playwright.

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