The Lye


Careless Green

By Roz Goddard


sang the song of nails and chain

and the iron forge smashed on its

iron plate, and men – soft machines

themselves – stood hip-wise

to the street and called to passing

girls; and the cut snaked grey

under the bridge and secrets stayed

in the bricks of tunnels, stolen kisses

and fumbles out of the mid-day heat.


And mothers hung the wash over

raggedy gardens and there was the

strangeness of your neighbour’s house,

gobs of liver in enamel bowls,

peculiar sideboards and silent fathers by

firesides, dreaming; rose petals that

came to nothing, glass umbrellas

and collared doves who circled, came back,

then took off forever,

as only some of us did.


Editor’s Comments

This poem is taken from Roz Goddard’s superb pamphlet, Spill (Flarestack Poets). In it, the narrator takes us through a quintessentially Black Country setting with its forges, close-knit neighbours and canal bridges. What Goddard does brilliantly is mix the odd and the off-kilter with the everyday, domestic and familiar. The men are traditional; hard-workers, gardeners, silent, but also daydreaming sentimentalists – they’re soft machines themselves. This off-kilter or threshold space is where secrets get caught and stored, where formative romantic moments occur, where only few take off and never return. Goddard’s trump card is her idiosyncratic details, like a series of snapshots, each building part of a series of unknown and potentially unending tales. There is something unending about this poem – we’re looking forward and looking back. The images float, like her collared doves, between nostalgia and the future, between domestic and wild, between beauty and strangeness.


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

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