Fatherless Barn


Fatherless Barn

Stephen Clarke


It could have only been reckless inspiration

that pushed me onto the red bus to Fatherless Barn,

my little pocket note book fizzing with ideas.


I’d bought shelf brackets and NoNails glue

from Dave’s DIY shop in the high street

and as I stepped out the bus pulled up, and I was on.


I sat at the front on the top deck, like a kid again

going solo for the first time, half expecting to see

uncle Dennis sitting on a low wall in old fashioned clothes


waiting for me, three stops up the road: his cigarette

bewildered in his fingers, his eyes lost in grown-up thought,

back from the dead in sunny black and white.




Editor’s Comments

This unusual and ghostly poem from Stephen Clarke deals with a little known place in the region, Fatherless Barn – or, as it was once known, Father Leys Barn. The voice of the poem takes us on an impulsive bus trip to this place, which is not just an area, but also the name of an estate and a church – somewhere in the borderlands between Halesowen and Colley Gate. Once on board the reader is transported to a state of mind where the ghosts of father-like figures (uncle Dennis) return, where the whimsical and hasty attitudes of childhood spring forth, where nostalgia mixes with the now. This is an imagined memory, from a fabricated journey to a place that we may only be able to see in dreams – but no less beautiful and no less rich in this fine poet’s vision.

Netherton born Stephen Clarke is one of the region’s most widely respected poets. As well as having a successful career as a performer and teacher of poetry, his work has been published both nationally and internationally, including Faber and Faber, Offa’s Press and The North.


Author: rmfrancis

R. M. Francis is a poet from the Black Country. Author of Transitions (Black Light Engine Room, 2015) and Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016). He's currently researching his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton

2 thoughts on “Fatherless Barn”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s