Guest Poem by Alex Barr

Alex Barr’s recent poetry is in Last Stanza Poetry Journal, Quagmire Magazine, Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Scintilla, The Dark Horse, Orbis, Silver Birch Press, Culture Cult Magazine, BlueHouse Journal, and Hole in the Head Review, with more forthcoming in the Plaza Prize Anthology and Frogmore Papers. His poetry collections are Letting in the Carnival from Peterloo, Henry’s Bridge from Starborn. This poem is from Acumen 107.

In Praise of Sheds

In the glow of a paraffin lamp from ‘Spick and Span’
master of my domain long ago
in the old rocking chair
that ground the floorboards in a heavy rhythm

busy with some childish occupation,
humming the ancient hymns I believed in
I watched through the open doorway
the shimmer of sunset poplars.

Such is the memory. Now in this other shed
the door is shut. My gaze is down.
In the light from a dusty window a polished beetle
pursues a pressing mission. A downy moth

flutters beside the wrapper of a tube of mints.
I raise my head and see on the grey planed uprights
ghosts of vanished brackets,
rust-flower lines of screw-heads.

Heat of the day has made the wood aromatic.
Air through knot-holes tickles the dust
and stirs the familiar scent
of creosote to remind me of my father.

The joints in the boards are staves of music
with arpeggios of knots, the rattling door
the call of a kettledrum, the whispering breeze
the echo of a far-off song.

Three narrow shelves hold mustard tins of nails,
abandoned bike lamps, labels of long dead plants.
On simple hooks are weeding tools and brushes.
I hang my griefs among them.