Wanted: Men for the King's Navy & Other Poems

Failure

I am a snagged stitch –

I tug my knitting unravelled to shapelessness I am a blunt pencil –

I chew my worn stub taste words I might have written

Disorientated in time and faith

dementia’s eclipse casts over her moon marooned memories sit misted by clouds

her children’s feet approach once more laughter pierces silence she mourns their past innocence

her bladder aches she awaits transfers bed to chair recalls trains canceled or delayed presses her assistance bell again yet clear intent dissolves in floods tickets drenched by bursts of rain seep ink lose numbers eventual invalidation

her vicar’s kind and careful but his doubts smother sunshine shamed disappointments claim his mind yet a toga-pleated goddess hovers by her side and rainbows slip through her muddled soul

her dream-girl walks proud on cross-wires string-taut balance pointed toes steady with belief unlike his lost faith

Wanted: Men for the King’s Navy

Forced against your will

to sign up, sail, spill

blood in foreign waters.

Slaughter, or be slaughtered.

No more cocky pride

clad in frock coats, feathered caps, pantaloons or clean cream gaiters. Your plump chops will hollow, your throat swallow bile.

When the swell’s hiatus tips and dips you down to hell

you’ll pray to drown. Be drawn

to end dread as it churns through

your narrow landsman’s veins.

Yet, likely death will not bless you.

The day will come on this same street, when you will point your pistol, curse

and press your own son.

Ekphrastic after ‘The Press Gang’, Alexander Johnston (1815 – 1891), Ferens Art Gallery, Hull

Ceinwen writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: 'Cerddi Bach' [Little Poems], a Stickleback by Hedgehog Press. She was a winner in the Nicely Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition July 2019 and her first pamphlet is due to be published 2019/20. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts. She tweets at @CeinwenHaydon