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21st Century Poetry Thresholds




“They could scarcely doubt that the state had been taken over by a breed of men whose policy was to rob the poor for the benefit of the rich.”

Mark Cornwall, on the Kett Rebellion in Norfolk, July 8-August 27 1549


Whether to leave now while evening
light threads field and fen, or wait
till they come to fence us, knot us
round with untold dark. Our door
is the weight of my curved hand,
a decision too heavy to close.
Frame and wood, drudging hinge.
How even clots of sheep whitening
the green seem to be eyeing,
cumbersome with waiting.

Men and glinting muskets, look how
they gather on the rise, while lords
of land engirdle, hedge, trench our
laborious lives. Tight-lipped brooding
draws me to her face, mother knows
the debtor’s score, the muck and mire.
I swither between fight and here,
a hounded hesitation. How our harried
common ground ebbs free and wide,
far-off as marsh and unyoked water.

Flint and shot, all is red and black
in that burning tumult up Kett’s Heath,
boots and feet make thunder of their own,
drumming through the city’s skies.
I sit upon the step, resolve in doomy
grey and cloud, my fingers are arrows,
arm a flex of bow. Whether to stay
or leave depends on this desperate theft
of pasture, halted plough, on the hanging
weight of our raging open doors.


Mary Gilonne is a translator, living in France but originally from Devon. Her pamphlet Incidentals is published by 4Word Press. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email [email protected]


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