Stephen Leake



In single file we stalk the track;
This monochrome bank
Of our childhood.

It’s not quite afternoon.
The ivy braids futures on splitting
Trunks and counterfeit rays
Maintain distance.

You’re marching ahead (we’re almost in step),
In the presence of your smoked-glass sky.

Hector (gentlemanly) avoids the grass
Where green butterflies
Assess their quick beauty.

You see them gustily
Shattering their wings,
Victims of time against your
Ripening self …
Vanishing to yesterday where
The wolves still howl;
Surprised by your views
On their world.



A narrow cradle of moon
Rocks the garden.

I compose myself,
(Embracing the cinema aisle running through darkness
And ruffle of air under the night’s shelf).

My book is face down. It’s history.

I twist with the vines overhead
As the owl divides the night between
Trellis and sky.

I arrive …
Static on the white screen;
Oil on a baroque lake.

I exhale my nameless fears as
This night is strategically placed.



I seep back into it; a rippling place
Where wagtails leave
The pages of my boyhood.

The sour fronds open out in prayer,
The bulging hips of white water
Waltz with the stones beneath.

I find you
Impressed in the edge of my sense,
Chipping the breathless rocks
As the minutes lift
And spread.

I’m there, like
Some morose priest peering
Through a second door
As you split
The spines of the stones.

And you find one—

Brittle as caramel in this dwindling
Playground …
Here, beyond the field grids
And the swift, slow sounds of my

An ammonite,
Now free from its blue fist of stone;
Recoiling in the dialogue of
Lost youth.
Spiralling through days
Which are nowhere, yet

And now.


Stephen Leake is a poet and teacher based in Nottinghamshire and Norwich, UK. He has had work published in the Times Education Supplement, Agenda, The Rialto and is a previous award winner (twice) in the Ottakar's/ Faber National Poetry Competition. His work has been scored by Professor John William Jones and performed by the Gettysburg Choir and Orchestra. He has recently contributed to the anthology Soul Feathers, alongside the poet laureate and Bob Dylan. Stephen is the author of two poetry collections and is currently completing a third.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014