for Dave Billings

I nearly went arse over tip on the footpath to Lundy Bay
where violets, primrose and spring squill were jostling
in the last of the sun with scurvygrass and speedwell.

I clambered over the boulders, with half an eye on the tide
that sucked and slopped in the hollows, as I looked for pretties
and paperweights – for stones are a comfort in sorrow.

And I turned up granite and quartz, flat skimmers of shale,
limestone smoothed by the ebb and flow, and a slew
of coppery pebbles tumbling down to the foam;

then heaved myself back up the cliff, pockets bulging with rocks,
as a stonechat sang in the tangled gorse and alder swayed
in the wind, while the boats out at sea held their course.

So I bring you nothing but stones and I let these stones
speak for me, that hold their own in the storm, keep faith
with the tide and the land; for we measure in millions
the years they have been here, and the years till they turn to sand.

by Stephen Boyce

This Friday, The Archway Foundation, UK, in partnership with Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, presents Rhyme to Change, a free poetry and music event in support of Time to Change, the national campaign to end mental health discrimination. The event takes place at the Barracks Lane Community Garden from 7.30pm, and features Dan Holloway, Matt Sewell (Charms Against the Evil Eye), Hugh McManners and George Edward Chopping. For more details, visit Archway’s Facebook page.

‘Stones’ is copyright © Stephen Boyce, 2014. It is reprinted from The Sisyphus Dog (Worple Press, 2014) by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

Stephen Boyce lives in Hampshire and works as an advisor to arts and heritage bodies. His poems have appeared in MagmaStapleThe Interpreter’s HouseFrogmore PapersSmiths KnollTears in the FenceInk, Sweat & TearsAcumen and other journals, as well as in various anthologies. He has been a prizewinner in the Kent & Sussex, Leicester, Ledbury, Ware Poets and Plough Prize competitions. His collection Desire Lines (Arrowhead Press 2010) was described by Katherine Gallagher as ‘intelligent, sophisticated, formally assured… a truly exciting new voice’. He is a trustee of Winchester Poetry Festival. You can read more about his work on his website and on Twitter. You can find out more about his book on the Worple website.

Worple Press was founded by Peter and Amanda Carpenter in 1997 and publishes 6-8 books a year by new and established poets: collections, pamphlets, works in translation, essays, interviews. Early authors included Iain Sinclair, Joseph Woods, Beverley Bie Brahic, Kevin Jackson and the acclaimed American nature poet Peter Kane Dufault. Recent collections (2014/2015) include Andy Brown’s Exurbia, Isabel Galleymore’s Dazzle Ship, Martyn Crucefix’s A Hatfield Mass, Julian Stannard’s TheStreet of Perfect Love, and Clive Wilmer’s Urban Pastorals. More information can be found at the publisher’s website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.