Gareth Culshaw – Four Poems


He Sailed in on his Tongue

he came sailing in on his tongue
from the river that split land
from where he was from

his twang different to ours
trachea much louder
heavy with confidence

that has shovelled words
onto our land, our carpet
keeping our own syllables

deep in the crust of the earth

River People

During summer we would walk
in rivers. Carrier bags full of quick
food, tense bottles, chuddies in pockets.

Tip Tops been and gone, sucked
to oblivion. The water was liquid mud.
Stones lay underneath, loose scree
and unwanted change from the sea.

Our bodies cut in two
one, forgotten, the other exposed.
Drifts of thought brushed against us.

What started at waist height
passed to ankle depth with every summer
as we made our way from one hood
to the other.


A beeping from the monitor
his pulse in numbers, flashing
on the screen.

Two roads blocked by years
of collected fat. Warning signs
were up, excavation dated.

The blood cars were at amber
building up a traffic jam
that was exhausting his heart.

Mr Thomas

Mr Thomas with his manicured garden
spirit levelled box hedging
gravel stones crunched under foot
still alive with chatter

His Staffordshire at the gate
creosoted fur, tense in stance
suspended like a coiled spring
a bark that boiled in the ribs

But today when I went past
gravel stones were sinking in silence
nettles, dandelions squeezed themselves in
building a network of roots to grow from

The gate, flaking paint, sagging hinges
hedging rough, left to wildness
a garden needing the hand
that now lay under soil, under sky


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Being a poet has taught me awareness. Poetry takes you to the tree or mountain without actually being there. Then you see how simple a tree or mountain is, wood, bark, leaves, insects, life. Rock, waterfalls, rubble, dust, life. My experience of beauty is that tree being alive in all weathers, how it plays with the wind, how it echoes the years sunlight, how it stands in snow, how it stands in rain. No matter what happens the tree’s presence is always there, alive. It makes the weather beautiful. And the same applies to a mountain. A snowy top is only what the mountain allows, a waterfall is what the mountain says it is, an horizon is what the mountain directs. Everything else is added to these things but nothing is more than a tree or mountain, sea, ocean, river, hill, valley, canyon, desert, beach, cliff. They are the staples of this earth and make everything else beautiful. But when you are around them, they appear simple. That is the real beauty.


Gareth Culshaw writes from North Wales. His work has appeared in Limestone, Magma, The Reader, Third Wednesday, London Grip, and elsewhere. More at: