Ethel Jane Cain – Stephen Bone

Ethel Jane Cain

The search for the girl with the golden voice
ended with Ethel Jane Cain, a telephonist
from Croydon, who beat all others
to give time a tongue and face.

Movietone finds her an English rose,
a Marcel waved emblem of the politeness of kings,
never be late again the campaign ran. To be fast
or slow a thing of the past.

The switchboard jammed the first day
the glass disks turned; the lonely rang in
for company, insmoniacs for a sort of lullaby,
others found in her crisp correctness a certain charge.

The tick of Ethel’s heart stopped at eighty-seven,
but archived, her debutante vowels survive,
winding back the clock of herself
to our parents’ long coffined days and nights.

Stephen Bone has a ‘Stickleback’ pamphlet due from Hedgehog Press in 2021.

Measurements – Stephen Bone


Bold regency stripe
gave way to a cabbage rose

which in turn hid
a tangle of fifties’

Our arms aching
as we scraped back
the decades,

with their buried clues,
until at last, exhausted,
we exposed the final layer

and the faint but readable
name of Ben, his height and age
written out in blue crayon

each third of June, until
after nineteen-forty, reaching
five foot five, tall for ten,

his measurements
stop their climb up
the sickly yellow wall.

Stephen Bone’s latest pamphlet, Plainsong ( Indigo Dreams ) appeared in 2018. A micro-pamphlet due from Hedgehog Press in 2020. Most recent work in magazines include, Agenda online, Black Bough Poetry, Finished Creatures, London grip, Morphrog, Shotglass, The Frogmore Papers.

Mystery Woman – Stephen Bone

Mystery Woman

No one knew who she was.
When it was taken. Too late
to ask now.

Our father’s dressed
in a pinstripe blazer,
Panama at a few pints

down tilt. She’s a swirl
of rose-printed frock,
her hand against his face,
white gloved,

like an archivist,
touching something


Stephen Bone had been published widely in magazines in the U.K and U.S. A first collection, In The Cinema (Playdead Press) appeared in 2014, followed by Plainsong (Indigo Dreams 2018 ) .

Japanese Knotweed – Stephen Bone

Japanese Knotweed

A single female specimen –
no males were taken – you survived
salt watered decks

to be bedded in Victorian soil
an ornamental
clusters white as Fuji’s tip

leaves the shape
of valentine hearts

to compliment the rhododendron
and ginkgo

sinister geisha

how well you hid your true nature
no one could have suspected

your merciless roots
breakneck speed of your advance

the green putsch you plot underfoot


Stephen Bone has been published in magazines in the U.K. and U.S. A first collection In The Cinema ( Playdead Press ) appeared in 2014, followed by a pamphlet Plainsong ( Indigo Dreams ) 2018.

Medlars – Stephen Bone


From the cupboard under your stairs
you pick one from its tray.
A sort of apple, open-ended,
on the turn.

Try, you urge, a spoon waved
like a hypnotist’s chain. Reluctantly,
a child braced for medicine I open up
to be fed a scoop of decay.

Good? You ask, moist rot melting
to the cusp of sweetness. I tremble a nod
as you slough off your snakeskin boots;
coil yourself into a chair.


Previously published in The Interpreter’s House

Stephen Bone’s work has appeared in various magazines
and anthologies in the U.K. and U.S. First collection ‘In The Cinema’
published by Playdead Press 2014. A pamphlet ‘Plainsong’ due from
Indigo Dreams Publishing 2017.