Glen Wilson – 4 poems

The River Rother Engineer


The levels are high again,

noticeable now to the naked eye,


between finger and thumb

I mark out the integrity of the washlands,


Its life once blackened sour

by the coke plants at Orgreave  and Brookhouse,


chub, roach and perch ,

are now able to sustain themsleves enough


to let the angler’s hooks,

cast a bounteous bait and switch,


there is taking, receiving,

and we must be careful in what surfaces.


The landscape only lets

us sculpt for the breadth of a season.


Will our hands make

the right moves to dam the water’s desires?








It is ugly.


Comissioned by a Lord something or other,

the artist’s name has too many letters

and it sounds foreign.


It has no straight lines, it is bent

with sharp edges at all angles.


A pensioner complained to the supervisor

“You’ll have someone’s eye out with that”


I agreed. A pile of nonsense.


The lawyers stride past it then past me

barely looking up as they show their passes.


I remember their applause at the unveiling,

the clink of glasses as they talked shop,

the sculpture standing naked, the red sheet

lying sadly on the marble plinth.


I watch the visitors who gawp at it,

tilting their head to one side then the other

as if it could be made to make sense

by simple geometry.


I look at the scrawls on the visitor ledger and wonder

How many would remember me,

my uniform clean and well …uniform Ha! –

–  how like my pass photograph

I look, don’t they see purpose there?


I follow the curves of the sculpture

as they either curl back into themselves


or splinter off into space.




Rapid Eye Movement


Is the shape of Love the space between


our sleeping bodies?

Found in the moving penumbras of light,


an opera of shadows and mute players,

our limbs loll to align with stars,


marking out our territory.

Two foetal spine to spine postures,


defending our middle ground,

switch to face to face, to feast on the stories

coagulating in the valley between,


to give us the strength to shift worlds in our dream,

to ready dreams for our world.


There are no schedules here, no appointments of dread,

no lesser addictions to cope, we breathe


in each other, chests filling up, eyes flicker like a meter

we are all upward pull,


only these sheets and the weight of our flesh

anchoring us here.




Skimming Across Lough Neagh, Late September


I plunge my hand in the shingle and silt

and pick up a stone, smoothed by tides

that tease the edges by the pier stilts.


I release it, smudging the water’s skin,

each time touching, briefly knowing

first impressions of holiness and sin.


Faces flick like fine spray in the shallow,

wetting, creasing, becoming less clear

going further out where I can’t follow.


All the stones sink so it doesn’t matter

how many times it skips across the water,

any throw can catch the wind, be faster.


I pick another one, trace along the stray

cracks breaking the illusion of surface,

see the glint of treasures thrown away.


A mackerel sky portends a speaking swell,

pushing us back towards our cars, who of us

can stay and face the accusatory knell.



Glen Wilson was highly commended inThe  2015 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition. He has won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2014 and the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016. Twitter @glenhswilson