2 poems by Joe Marsh

The Beholder

I covet this house, not far from mine,

shouldered by a hill.

Looks best in mists.

You can glance

through a window to a window and

out the other

side where sometimes bonfire air

ripples like the past.

To covet this house

I must not think it a parasite

nor home for grown-up dolls.

I must not think that if an old mine

fell in beneath

it would not shrug and topple.

Instead I think this house a sleeping child –

past father, tomorrow’s sun –

clinging to hurling earth,

bright breaths from darkness,

mists lifting –

Boys Lost

Mum’s word: (in lonely dale) Two boys, outrun from me –

I looked – and they were gone from me – you haven’t seen them?

(Panic clear, the quiet first flush)

Me: They’re round the corner (he blinks) I’m sure,

they’re there, I think, I’m sure – (he’s walking on)

But there were no voices,

no footprints in the dew.

They were not in the apple tree.

They did not scale a pine.

There was no laughter.

They built no den in their field of steers,

they slung no clay.

I’ve walked on. Somewhere

the boys dance, lumpen-hooved,

their pale mouths move.


Joe Marsh is a writer and teacher based in the Derbyshire Dales. He is Playwright on

Attachment at the Finborough Theatre and First Story Writer in Residence at Landau

Forte College Derby.