Guest Poem by Martin Reed

Martin Reed is a past winner of the National Poetry Competition and was commended in 2022. He has a HappenStance collection, ‘The Two-Coat Man’ and edited ‘Farewell Performance: The Collected Later Poems of Vernon Scannell’ published in 2022.


The lawn is browning, hydrangeas are leached,
colours dried to taffeta,
summer fading early. Parched.
Last night we left a saucer of water
for linnets who gather on the telegraph wire;
insects have drowned in it overnight.

Through a gap in the ferns beyond the patch
where weeds have strangled onions and peas,
is a distant sea and a single yacht
out early to capture the Biscay breeze,
its white triangle pointing skywards,
in optimistic voyaging.

We await the beat and hug of the sun
on what the radio insists
will be the hottest day of our times.
Fires burn forty miles down the road;
there’s full-scale war on this continent
bad news from a distant hospital,

but the pony in the adjacent garden
kicks the ground, snorts the dew;
from its owners’ house comes a cri de joie
and a gentle wind lays its arm on my shoulders,
a patient friend who wishes me well.
The scene breathes on in easy peace,

resolutely disbelieving,
the only way it seems we can live.