Jennie Osborne lives on the edge of Dartmoor, active in poetry around South Devon. One of organisers of Teignmouth Poetry Festival. Performer and workshop leader. Won 2015 Kent and Sussex Poetry Prize.
It’s a game that’s gone on for millennia
between those with an ear fit to listen
and that with a multitude of names
which speaks with more than tongues
has blown its whistle more loudly each decade.
Some find they need to put their heads
to the ground to catch the litany of mole rats
or the rattle of gods. Some swear
by dreams but their dictionaries disagree –
a case of pick and mix at the new age bazaar.
Some follow the tracks of tiger or vole
as they peter off towards extinction,
or interpret the bees’ last messages,
the kakapo’s failing language, witness
the redwood’s blazing groans.
These days, it’s more a matter
of shedding earmuffs, ripping off blinkers,
turning down the eat me, buy me white noise
and peeling off the plastic gloves, putting
an ear or a fingertip to any throbbing pulse.
And what we choose to be deaf to
has given up on subtle, given up on
the liquid language in lost eyes, diminishing
chords spring after spring, starved soil’s
crunch as it turns to sand.
Seas have tried tantrum, rivers given lessons
in weeping. Every day the assemblage of ghosts
thickens, their silent accusation nudging through the ether,
tapping out its Mayday in minds which have cracked
the carapace, dare to be naked to our own complicity.
It’s time for stormy crescendo, turning up
the heat, for waves of howl so strong
they lift us, hurl us, shatter us, drown us,
leave us to lie among oil-smothered fish, poisoned
cetaceans on a plastic-studded beach
and soon there will be unmaking, the first
threads are pulled. We can’t say
there was no signal.
Poem in Signals From The Other, 2022, Dempsey and Windle
Signals From The Other, 2022, Dempsey and Windle, ISBN 978-1-9133297-4-7 £10.50
Colouring Outside the Lines, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068565-8-8. £8
collection, How to be Naked, 2010, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068561-3-7. £8
Overall winner of the SecondLightLive Poetry Competition, Round 2, Nov 08 to Sep 09. Listen to Jennie reading There’s Something about a Woman Swallowing Flames
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