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.
Bold regency stripe
gave way to a cabbage rose
which in turn hid
a tangle of fifties’
Our arms aching
as we scraped back
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,
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.
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,
like an archivist,
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 ) .
A single female specimen –
no males were taken – you survived
salt watered decks
to be bedded in Victorian soil
clusters white as Fuji’s tip
leaves the shape
of valentine hearts
to compliment the rhododendron
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.
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.