Guest Poem by Martin Johns

Martin has been published widely in poetry magazines and anthologies. He has given readings including at the Poetry Café in London, at the International Anthony Burgess Centre in Manchester, and with Carol Ann-Duffy at the Manchester Royal Exchange. He has collaborated with several composers with performances in Manchester, Leeds, and Northamptonshire. Martin has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. His pamphlet Resting Place was published by Palewell Press in 2019, a second pamphlet is being published by Palewell Press in 2022.


Edgy, always at the edge but can tip a winter
into a pre-spring look of something beautiful.
Bonny in blossom, a beguiling frothy white.

The humble Blackthorn, its knurly built-in rebuke.
Dark thorns, purple, something venomous
like being bitten or strung. Sharp spikes

as long as your thumb. Fangs that can puncture
a finger or sole of a shoe. A Saxon’s barbed wire
marking the boundary in hedgerows where

labour and nature marry among tangled nettles.
Never ignore its dark side, it can plunge us into
danger like a tiny virus can rip through a town.

Or our disastrous human-made climate that throws
us all out of balance. In perfect balance her sloes
whose alien green flesh dry the mouth but with

gin, ah that ruby red liquid makes for a perfect
winter night’s tipple. So I toast the Blackthorn
her dense, strong dark wood, her visceral beauty.