Herd mentality – Sharon Larkin

Herd mentality

What panicked the sheep was invisible.
One second, ewes were grazing in green pastures,
the next, a report from some silent starting pistol
sent them sprinting, faster than ovines
should ever have reason to travel.

Nothing pursued them –
no hound or horse or bird of prey.
No farmer had come to tempt his girls
with trailer-loads of beets or hay
but some were leaping lamb-like,
all hooves aloft, then turning, as one,
to charge again from whence they came,
stampeding forth and back beside the wall
which some began to clamber on,
to disappear beyond – where a year before,
we found a sheep’s corpse, bones picked clean.

We knew a steep slope fell away
a few feet further on, into the quarry below,
feared a lemming-like scene there,
wondered what weed or bane, opioid or hemp,
could drive beasts to madness such as this.

Back home, we’re alarmed by news
of stock market crashes, supermarket dashes,
clashes in aisles as folk go overboard
for toilet rolls.

We can’t make sense of theories
about herd immunity
or appeals for distance and isolation
as sixty thousand flock for four days on the trot
to the races, and others jump
aboard their last flight home.

We try to fathom stats and graphs.
that attempt to flatten the curve,
choke when asked to swallow the pill
that our loved ones will be lost.
It spooks the flock out of us.


Sharon Larkin’s ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019. Her poems have been anthologized by Cinnamon, Eyewear and more, and regularly appear in magazines eg Prole and Obsessed with Pipework, and on-line eg Ink Sweat & Tears and Atrium. She has a poem forthcoming in Magma. Sharon organizes Poetry Café Refreshed, is Gloucestershire’s Stanza Representative and runs Eithon Bridge Publications and the Good Dadhood e-zine. Sharon has a Creative Writing MA and is passionate about Wales, photography and the natural world.

Featured Publication – Interned at the Food Factory by Sharon Larkin

Our featured publication for April is Interned at the Food Factory by Sharon Larkin, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Interned at the Food Factory takes eating as its theme, where food is less a source of nourishment and enjoyment, rather a series of individual and social challenges to be confronted and overcome.

By turns vulnerable and sassy, heartbreaking and funny, consistently insightful and readable. The food in these poems is no spread for some twee picnic.  In an age of increasingly innocuous poetry, Sharon Larkin is to be applauded for the rawness included here and for an exceptional instinct for the  emotional weight and balance of her poems” Brett Evans

In these poems Sharon Larkin weaponises the language of food; sometimes witty, always moving. Watch out. This is a place where you must check whether ‘the knife drawer’ [is] closed.” Kate Noakes



Sloe Gin

Plucky to show up so soon
before your white-blousy neighbour
before your green has burst
or frosts have pinched their last
and after they’ve returned
it’s kind of you to hang on,
long after blackberries
are corrupt in devil spit.

How thoughtful of you
to yield the right wood
for this walking stick
bringing bough to hand
but how mean that your
blue-bloomed drupes
so pucker the lips.
You’re only good to ruin gin.

Picker-spiker, now it’s my turn
to pierce your skin, make you bleed.
I take up the needle.
The pay-back is sweet.
A fistful of sugar
for every pound of flesh –
you soak for weeks
in the sticky liquor.

As cakes are laced and puddings sweat,
you are steeping, inedible,
utterly drunk.


Beach Breakfast

It’s been a long night, a difficult week.

We meet on the sand
where you’ve set up an impromptu barbecue –
and, of course, it’s fish you’re grilling,
freshly caught and gutted by the guys
hovering around the boat, looking over at us,
no doubt wondering about the conversation
that is just beginning.

I blurt out how sorry I am.
I was unfaithful. I still love you.
But you don’t seem to accept
my apology, my profession of love.
I have to repeat it, over and over.

You are more concerned about food,
intent on the prospect of sharing it around,
even though in my eyes, right here,
right now, there are just the two of us.

Then I realize that is my perspective.
I’ve squeezed you into my narrow field of view,
where you rightly have the proportions of a giant,
but you’re not mine alone,
you’re theirs over by the boat,
you’re everybody’s.


Pâté d’Alouette

A teenager abroad for the first time
sits down to a little delicacy
from the sixteenth century.
On her plate, bones of a small bird
attracted by multicoloured glass
and netted in the Gatinais,
not a great distance from where
Jeanne d’Arc first ventured out.

She learns the recipe: eight larks,
eight ounces of bloated livers
from force-fed geese, stock
from a boiled chicken, her egg.
Marinate larks in port, thyme, bay.
Next morning, rise with the lark
to prepare the day’s specialité.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Stir-fry the tiny organs and intestines
of your larks, crush them, incorporate
with shallots and breadcrumbs
in chicken stock. Fill body cavities
with truffled foie gras. Make a pastry bed,
bury larks in stuffing. Top off with crust.
Seal. Brush with egg, bake for an hour.
Best served cold with green salad,

a baton, a little wine.


Bacon for the Olfactorily Challenged

Come. I’ll show you the unraw material,
these young Old Spots.
Pick one up. Stroke his back.
Look into his little piggy eyes.
Rub the down across your top lip.

I hope you can sense the tenderness.
Twist his cute curly tail
around your little finger.
Hear him squeal.
Get used to it.

When electrocuted, he’ll sizzle and pop.
Watch as his belly is slit, his innards spilt.
They will glisten and steam,
as they slither over the slick zinc.
It is a shame you can’t smell.

After the beheading, hanging, quartering,
run your fingers over the strips of fat,
lean, gristle, bone. Breathe in the smoke,
the sodium nitrate. They improve texture
and taste but maybe not your health.

Now slice your pig thinly, spread him,
streaky-rashered, over your grill-pan.
Turn up the heat. Hear Babe spit.
Gaze on his remains as they twist and weep.
Wince as his irascible fat stings your hands.

Sprinkle salt on your burns.
Eat your bacon with lashings of sauce.


Previous publication credits: Sloe Gin – Beyond the Well-Mapped Provinces (Cheltenham Poetry Society), Pate d’Alouette – The Stare’s Nest.

Sharon Larkin’s poetry has been widely published in anthologies, magazines and on-line.  She is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and jointly runs Poetry Café – Refreshed.  She was founder/editor of the Good Dadhood poetry project and runs Eithon Bridge Publications.

Interned at the Food Factory is available to purchase from the Indigo Dreams Publishing website.

Thé avec Imogen et toi – Sharon Larkin

Thé avec Imogen et toi

It’s exquisite torture sitting this close to you in polite company
with the restraint of Earl Grey and amuse-bouches on a doily

when what I think I’d like is you, alone, and a slug of vin rouge,
our tongues entertaining more than each other’s ears

on some good old-fashioned shag pile
somewhere other than Imogen’s bungalow.


Previously published in The Rat’s Ass Review – Love and Ensuing Madness, May 2016

Sharon Larkin has been widely published in anthologies, magazines and on-line  and has a pamphlet forthcoming from Indigo Dreams. She founded and edited the Good Dadhood poetry project, co-runs Poetry Café Refreshed and is Chair of Cheltenham Arts Council and Cheltenham Poetry Society.
Website: https://sharonlarkinjones.com/published-poems

On seeing Bredon – Sharon Larkin

On seeing Bredon

I used to sneak into my parents’ room
in Hinton-on-the-Green and root around
the dusty fluff on dressing table tops
and sense unmentionable stuff in drawers.

Then as the sixties spread their thighs
and I grew bold, I rifled tallboys on a whim
and seized what I’d been searching for:
the Penguin edition, orange, a phoenix
leaping from the flames
among the lacy underwear.

My mother’s smuggled copy of the book
seemed to cock a snook at father’s Bible,
black and gold and splayed
upon the bedside table.

On hearing creaking stairs,
I thrust rough Mellors back
among the petticoats with Constance
and with no time to scuttle to my room,
leant elbows on the window sill instead
to worship Bredon in the summer dusk.
My father seemed to find this plausible.

Now, as my life of adult subterfuge
and sin chugs in from Paddington once more
and Bredon Hill comes back into my view,
I venerate that sly old crocodile again,
complicit, half-exposed and basking in its sea of green,
jaws still gently menacing the Combertons.


Sharon Larkin’s work appears in anthologies (Cinnamon, Eyewear); magazines (Prole, Obsessed with Pipework) and on-line (Ink, Sweat & Tears, Clear Poetry). She runs Cheltenham Poetry Café, chairs Cheltenham Poetry Society, edits Good Dadhood, has a CW MA and loves Wales. Website: http://sharonlarkinjones.wordpress.com