Poems by Angela Topping
Angela Topping is the author of eight full collections of poetry, and four pamphlets, with a fifth forthcoming, all from reputable publishers. Her most recent is The Five Petals of Elderflower (Red Squirrel 2016). Her poems have featured in a range of magazines internationally, including The Poetry Review, The Dark Horse and The North. They have featured on BBC Radio’s Poetry Please on several occasions, and in over 100 anthologies, and been placed in several competitions. She is a former Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library, Harwarden, Wales. Based in Cheshire, UK, she works as a freelance poet and author. She blogs at angelatopping.wordpress.com
He Comes to Me
He comes to me here, whenever he can,
finds me waiting, writing in my notebooks,
wearing his old dressing gown.
He’ll spin the black turntable with a latest buy
or swing the guitar into his arms to play me.
The music articulates things we never say.
Something tells me, maybe it’s the way
the evening light insinuates itself
between the lace flowers on my curtains,
that we cannot always be this way, that one day
he will walk away for the last time without warning.
He will not mean to, and it will take us both aback.
Hop under the hedge
out of the cold
not much left in the feeder
but rummage these beech leaves
lifting each with my yellow beak
there’s a feast of bugs,
delicious crawly things.
No tidy gardeners here
raking up autumn’s loss.
I toss each leaf, gobble
Fill my hollows with
their little lives,
quick to peck
my head dots and dashes.
Then fly up to preen
on these chimney tops,
catch the updraft
from their coal fires,
fluff up my feathers.
It might be winter
but life’s pretty good.
Alexander Fleming Discovers Penicillin
In mum’s farmhouse kitchen, I’d lavish
home-made jam on doorstops of bread,
chew my piece in the fields as I played.
We moved to London. Their soft bread
was different to mum’s bannocks
kneaded into submission with her own hands.
In hot weather, it bloomed blue with mould,
not fit for ducks in local parks.
I studied hard, trained as a doctor,
went away to war. Bread was not plentiful.
The Spanish flu killed so many. I did my best
in the field hospital, needed all my skill.
Back in my hospital lab, I saw blue spread
on culture dishes, thought my experiments
ruined, until I saw the wall of mould
keeping back germs like a barricade.
It was war, but this time on infection.
And I won, I won. And I keep on winning
though I’m long gone now. Think of me
when you take your medicine, forget me
when you’re well. Enjoy your life.
Despite what you might think
we don’t like hurly burly.
We love our pets and our sisters.
Our spells are to preserve
the right order of things.
Macbeth was always going
to murder his king.
We saw it in the Tarot,
read it in the tea leaves,
watched the film on the crystal.
We spin the fates,
when we are not knitting socks.
The world of men
is not always our concern
but sometimes, we have to
set the balance straight.
Under the Bunting
Paintings by Jack Vettriano
Two suited men survey the passing scene.
They smoke, glamorously, nonchalant.
Nothing to choose between except their ties.
Left hands tucked in pockets, faces in shadow.
Two other men stand either side of a woman.
She sits on the railings. She gazes
at one, her body angled towards him,
but her hand strays close to the hand of the other.
One man sits on the arm of a bench, one foot
stamps the ground, one on the bench. The woman
at the other end wears a pink dress. They speak
earnestly. She keeps her guard, legs crossed.
A couple dances. He holds her ballroom-close,
numbers on their backs. Her face is set against him.
A series of failed love stories, shown by detail,
a certain fall of light, sombre shadows.
© Angela Topping