Chrys Salt


There are no maps for poets in this country.

The compass finger, mindless on its post

will not direct us on this dangerous journey.

An unfamiliar landscape tells us we are lost.

Above the bramble and the rambling wood

the technicoloured dragons wheel for bones

of luckless travellers who have misconstrued

the alien symbols on the milestones.

We have nowhere to go but where we are,

our options closed, the exit double locked.

We may not take direction from a star.

The stars are out and all the roads are blocked.

How can we dare this nightmare territory?

the shifting contours of the hills and coasts.

the gibberish signposts and the season's enmity.

What hand our touchstone in this land of ghosts?

The Shadow Knows

(im Adrian Mitchell)

You didn’t bat an eyelid

when I told you my son had fought in Iraq.

It took some courage to tell you -

knowing where you stood and why you had come.

You smiled, being you,  and said nothing -

no judgement or rebuke.

I tried to unpick the conundrum

of the gung-ho soldier with a pacifist mum,

how nothing I felt or believed in fitted,

as if the gun had  been in my hands,

or placed in his by something I had omitted

to do, or say, or understand

and in the face of  it all,

I could do nothing but love.

Now  your Shadow grows  huge and kind

down my long table

telling me ‘yes’

that is enough.

Chrys Salt © 2019

What can a poem do at times like these?

Does it say, look at you, this is what you are

you did this you bastard

this is your rotten cock-up your responsibility


Take a look at this guys, look at these

big-eyed children with their pumpkin bellies

that haven’t seen a square meal since god knows when

dig deep into that fat purse of empathy,

I’m gonna make you feeeel


does it say what’s the point I have no rhyme

or reason the daffodils are here

I’m for the spring


make us see the world in a grain of sand

poetry has a fine focus friends, it’s your tea-leaves

in the cup, not the destiny of the whole

fucking universe so keep it real


is it for standing still and doing nothing to


for shouting out loud at the obscenity,

the obscenity of certain well…obscenities


for jumping into someone else’s skin

and running off with it


for laughing at us behind our backs

with snide chimes taking the piss

out of the human condition from which the poet

is miraculously exempt.


simply for making cut-outs in the sky

to peer at gods through so

this smell of food rotting in a broken freezer

this timpani of empty buckets and the brains of

this mechanic on the wall above the petrol cans

and this father scraping sand off the face of his

buried son in the hospital garden and the filthy

hypodermics and the wards awash with blood

and diarrhoea and the black wafers of ancient scrolls

scuttering across the market selling a few last shrivelled figs

is a distraction from counting the stars or lifting the gold hair

trapped on your lovers lip ?

Turn it on its head no money will come out of it

put it in a drawer and it will lie silent forever

speak it aloud and it will fly from the mouth like bee swarms

or keep coming back to you

like an annoying tune in the bath or on the bus

planting its echoing mantras for good or for ill or for dancing

or for making love to deep deep in the skull

and sometimes it will dance on the tongue of the universe

to be sung over and over again and again and again

world   without   end, world  without  end.


Chrys Salt © 2019