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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023
First Muse, poems by Mark Marie Studer.
I deserted you, not you me, always
a pebble in my laced-shoe.
Antidote to frilled cowboy suits, sulphur caps,
the tut tutting at hands swirling dreams
in the suds of wash-up, wanting to be alone
not on my own, the three o’clock lull until tea.
You my mind’s-side in the hazel-birch wood,
crackling twigs underfoot, small birds shrilling
to spirits, fantails of fern tickling
the festering scars of dogrose.
We slid stones into the bowl of a sand pit,
shared a braille rock, my sandals shuffling shale,
ankle socks going grey, gushing join-the-dot words
to you, my confidant.
Fifty years to pen you thanks, my imaginary friend.
Silent observance of rise and fall
morphed last days with you. Graft of
pulling, holding, letting go,
belonging and breathing the rhythm of you.
The last breath hovered above your head,
the candle flame flickered blue.
You floated out the vent light
to the fields you had tended, your dog whined.
White flame, white sheet covered the table mirror.
Some fingered beads before they unpacked
starched sheets, some cried.
I still savour the sting of Ostuni’s salt & vinegar
chips, though not the time
I shrunk under a grey-white streetlight,
a staggering takeaway line on
the street of a midlands town.
Decibels of bravado and grumblings
hissed hotter than vats of stainless-steel oil,
obscenities spilled onto the street
egging two local lads on,
eyes to eyes, posturing grunts –
snap skirr of swinging fists, knuckles breaching flesh
bone cracking bone; my cold sweat and
rising bile crushing the green, white, red,
hand warming snack box as the blood
soaked teens are shunted away by police.
The aimless Pontius Pilate crowd mutter,
falling back into line.
Next day, two sixth year boys, faces like
atlas mountain ranges, talk up neighbouring
parish scores, back slappers in tow.
© Marie Studer
Marie Studer is a past winner of the Trócaire/ Poetry Ireland competition and twice a winner in the Bangor Literary Ekphrastic Challenges. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and journals, including The Stony Thursday Book, The Storms, Drawn to the Light, The Waxed Lemon, The Honest Ulsterman, Black Bough, Bangor Literary Journal, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, local anthologies and online. She has also aired on local radio.