Two Poems by Carolyn Oulton

Autumn on the Floor

With thanks to Barbara-Jayne for the title

A handful of leaves bent double
by the garden doors. You say
on arrival, Autumn on the floor.
Another moment and I’ve nicked it.

First we talk to John, who doesn’t
correct us when we call him Alfie.
I guess north. He smiles
acquiescence. Born in Liverpool.
He’s watching us
use memory prompts –
I’m off with all the houses
I’ve ever lived in.

Eileen asks what flowers
those are meant to be
in the others’ pictures.
Got that one. Poppies.

Over tea and biscuits
I get downright casual
on preventable death, family
secrets floating weightless.

As if the wind wasn’t listening,
leaves weren’t bent like ears
against the membrane
of the window glass.

Rocca Calascio

For the sake of starting somewhere:
I remember this. The rim of a cloud
like an upturned plate
over simmering rock, the smaller
bell-shaped mountain. Breathing
as if doing it looked pretty clever,
how oxygen ripped
into my throat again, again.
Stone buildings staring
down each other’s shoulders,
the narrow wall
where the child stood stolid
as they do – feet apart,
the lightest touch of hand
for hand to hold him back.
The deep bass tumbled
from the tower. I remember
now the taste of the spring.


Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her poetry has recently appeared in: Artemis, The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Moth, Poetry Village and Seventh Quarry. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press.

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