Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 13 May 2013

  • from Natural Mechanical

    See this boy – this Rocky.

    At three years: the back door opened.
    Out he goes. Prompted. Prodded. Pushed.
    Squat body. Crew-cut. Short trousers. Green vest.
    Little fists clenched into little pink rocks.

         He’ll be a hardy wee bugger this one.

    His father. Nailing the child’s bedroom window open.
    Four inch gap. Forever. No curtain.

    The third of three children; the Benjamin.
    Following the second sister by five years.
    No more to come after.

         He’s been up and running
         for half his whole life.

    His mother. Allowing the wind to slam shut the door.

         Let him play out where my legs
         are least likely to find him.

         And if he doesn’t come back when called
    The father again:
         then it’ll be the webbing belt.

    his Victorian ideals coming fifty years too late.

    And this boy – this Rocky – takes to it, quick.
    An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The Wingèd Isle. Isle of Skye. His.

    And when they later call his name
    over wind, over heath, over burn, over bog

    he doesn’t hear, and he doesn’t come.

    by J.O. Morgan

    This excerpt from Natural Mechanical is copyright © J.O. Morgan, 2009. It is reprinted from Natural Mechanical by permission of CB editions.

    Notes from CB editions:

    The above extract from J.O. Morgan's book Natural Mechanical comprises the opening lines of a book-length verse memoir of the childhood of a man – known to the poet – who grew up on the Isle of Skye in the 1950s. Dyslexic, he sought out his own education from the fields and streams around him; the many episodes recounted include a solo trip to France with just a few coins in the pocket of his shorts. (A sequel, Long Cuts, was published in 2011.)

    Natural Mechanical – by a poet who had never previously published – won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize. The book was widely praised both for the formal skill of its writing (Andrew Motion called it 'a memoir written in language that is cannily involved with the ordinary miracles of childhood'), and for its appeal to a readership which might not usually engage with poetry: 'If those who never touch poetry tried a few pages of this, they might become converts,' said Rosemary Goring in The Herald.

    CB editions publishes no more than six books a year, mainly poetry and short fiction and including work in translation. Since 2008 its poetry titles have twice won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and have twice been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize. In 2011 CBe put on Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public; the event was repeated in September 2012 with over 50 publishers taking part. Find out more about the publisher from the website, where you can also sign up to the CB editions mailing list, or 'like' the publisher on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its activities.

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