On the third anniversary of the building site on St John Street – Ian Glass

On the third anniversary of the building site
on St John Street

For years we ignored the dull
1950s office block. For years
its misplaced architecture lay empty
and then we pulled it down.

And honestly, on that day
the town’s heart lightened.

We planted our hopes
in the levelled ground
and raised plywood boards,
painted red like theatre curtains,
to hold them safe.

Then we waited.

We waited as cars edged past
queueing in the weary morning.
We waited while pedestrians
weighed down with bags-for-life
stopped and peered through gaps;
while graffiti made cryptic claims
and was painted over;
while rain soaked the ground to mud
and the sun dried it to dust,
and while beneath it all
the Spadesbourne Brook ran on,
hidden in its concrete pipe.

We waited until the waiting faded.

And in the not waiting that followed
the plywood screen, painted red
like theatre curtains, became
just itself, a thing, a part of town,
not so much holding
as replacing hope.

 

Ian lives in Worcestershire where he works as a programmer while studying for an MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. Ian’s first pamphlet ‘About Leaving’ will be published by V. Press later this year.

Internal Combustion – Ian Glass

Internal combustion

Daughter number two stares at me in mock horror:
eyes wide, mouth wider. She wants to know
why a car engine makes such a lot of noise,
which is not easy to explain when you’re driving.

Explosions? she says, real explosions?
Perhaps the horror is real: arms folded tight,
legs pressed hard against the seat,
retreating from this unexpected threat.

How many explosions?
………………………………………………I calculate roughly,
and miss the roundabout exit.

A hundred!
……………………….She says, as I go round again,
a hundred explosions every second!
What sort of death-wish madness builds machines
that explode a hundred times a second?

Traffic lights change to red:
a perfect opportunity
to explain the four stroke Otto cycle,
and while she’s not entirely gripped

by my discourse on compression ratios,
adiabatic expansion, temperature,
pressure and entropy; moving off
I sense her interest in the variations

of these mad death-wish machines:
the delicate sparking that animates
a petrol engine; the self-reliant
auto-ignition of a diesel.

Given a choice,
……………………………she says,
I would rather ignite spontaneously
than wait for a spark.

 

Ian was raised in Northumberland, lives in Worcestershire and has two grown-up daughters.  He trained as an engineer but when not writing he works as a programmer.  Ian’s poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears and Algebra of Owls.

Battenhall Fair – Ian Glass

Battenhall Fair

I knew this place, this hill, this sky;
not long before the fields were buried.
I stood where you are now.
There was a stile as high
as my shoulder and a hawthorn
whose shade I borrowed.

And Sam sitting on Persephone
our cow asked why and why
and why does grass grow upwards
and why is the sky blue?

And Mam smiling said: God’s love
is reflected in the sky; the grass
reaches up to touch.
And Pa said: starlings
paint the sky with cornflowers;
the grass is scared of worms.

And scraps of laughter drifted
up the hill from Battenhall fair
and beyond the stalls
the tall cathedral tower stood
golden white
and the river twisted
silver blue
like the ribbon in my hair.

And Sam was singing, so I shouted: why
did they build so tall?
And Mam said:
to touch God.
And Pa said:
because we are scared of worms.

 

Ian was raised in Northumberland, lives in Worcestershire and has two grown-up daughters.  He trained as an engineer but when not writing he works as a programmer.  Ian’s poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears and Algebra of Owls.