The old brambles here are dull
and dark and scratchy, twisting
and curving down
to find new ground. A home
for rabbits: we watch them
darting in to safety
at the sound
of our boots on the soil –
vibration sends them
back behind those spiked

Soon there’ll be
fresh shoots, and pink-tinged
leaves. Back home, we battle
them, come in scratched
and bloodied, wanting tea.
Here’s different. Cattle
will come in and chew
them back – but not these
sprawling cages, old and hard –
safe haven for the small,
soft creatures of the world.

It’s National Weed Appreciation Day (I know!) and obviously we are celebrating at dVerse. Come and join us! The bar opens at 8pm BST, 3pm EDT. I’m so confused about what time it is right now!



I didn’t think I’d miss them –
scruffy trees, feathery leaved,
sprouting up anywhere, everywhere –

but here we are. The bony wrists
poking out of tattered greenery,
bare branches knobbled:

old women, I think.

I’d hardly noticed them.
How many ash trees soften
the skyline? How many?

I see them now. The nakedness,
the cold dying, stripped
of leaf, of robe, of dignity.

How blind I was. How stupid.

A poem for Sherry at earthweal. She wants us to consider a lonely world. So many trees are dying around us. Horse chestnuts have some kind of virus, ash trees – which define my local lancscape. Even the forestry spruces are being cut down. It’s hard not to notice and wonder what has gone wrong.

Photo by Neil Harrington Photography on


My Cinderella granny, scooped
from the ashes, smelling of raspberries
and sugar. Always ready for a ball,
always ready to stay out
‘til after midnight.

My fairy godmother granny,
scattering gifts and blessings,
laughing at corny jokes,
weeping at corny films –
safe times to cry, safe places.

My wise granny, opening
arms to everything, living
the now. What’s wisdom, anyway?
Knowing when to step
out of the dance. Knowing
when to step back in.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re writing about grandmothers. They come in all shapes and sizes, and so do our poems!

I was not lost

Looking back, I was never there –
not in that room, that bed,
that body.
I was not lost.
I was too heavy – I was sunk
down in the dark, where the light
runs slow.
Blue shafts of sunlight
filtering down – my eyelids
barely touched –
my skin too heavy,
all my bones, too heavy.
I was not lost,
just deep, sleeping my dark sleep,
dreaming my dark dreams.

For Merril at dVerse, who gives us a list of podcast titles, and asks us to incorporate two of them into a poem. Here’s the list:

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

I Was Never There

Legacy of Speed

Not Lost


Reveal: After Ayotzinapa

Rumble Strip


This American Life

Ghost in the Burbs

The first walk of the year

Like pilgrims, walking into the new. Or parishioners beating the bounds. We walk our familiar walk, past the row of twisted oaks, past the stump that looks like an owl, past the lane that leads to Mary’s barn, up to the stile. We squelch across the top field, drop down to the track. It’s quiet. The light is fading, the sky is tinged with gold and violet. At the last gate, we hear an owl calling, and then another owl replying. The year begins.

mud and water
the last of the light
owl wakens

A haibun for Kim at dVerse. A new year begins. I hope it’s kind to you.

The wedding

“My wife and I”, he said,
and everybody cheered.
After, we gathered round them –
“You’re punching, mate”
somebody said, “You’re punching”

and, smiling
he acknowledge it,
accepted it. Embraced it –

and she moved closer, nestling
in his circling arms, bird to his bear:
a small boat resting
in safe harbour.

a quadrille for dVerse – 44 words including tonight’s word: punch

How I wrote the poem: Welsh poet Matthew M. C. Smith on his poem ‘Abyss’

Welcome to a brand new feature. I’m fascinated by how people write, and so I decided to ask them, starting with Matt Smith, who is sharing the background to his poem Abyss. Over to Matt:

Sarah, thank you for this opportunity to discuss a poem that will be in my second collection of poetry and prose, The Keeper of Aeons, to be published by Broken Spine Arts. I’m going to take this opportunity to discuss a poem called ‘Abyss’, which was originally published by Anti-Heroin Chic in 2021 (thanks James Diaz – poetry editor).

When I started to write ‘Abyss’, I imagined a human figure positioned in a cathedral-like structure, suspended in space. No earth below, no cloudy or blue sky around, just an open cathedral, surrounded by stars far, far away. The human figure holds a flickering flame in the draughty vault of the cathedral. They realise that any way they face is infinite and sense the tremendous speed of light bursting through the darkness of space. At the end of the poem, they ascend to the altar and unexpectedly dive through the cathedral window, plunging with the shattered glass like a dolphin.

For me, there is the implication of choosing not to stay at that central point in the darkness of that cathedral but to break out, to travel through infinity, to submit to it and to reach for freedom. This poem could suggest many things but, ultimately, this is down to reader-response. It is a poem that strives to be strange, uncanny, full of mystery.

I am interested in cosmic surrealism – playing around with cosmology in a poetic sense, with strange imaginative leaps. I have a lot of dreams and nightmares about scenarios like this and often wake up exhausted.  

In my forthcoming collection, The Keeper of Aeons, I take the reader to the Space Station to look back at Earth; also to interstellar space to convey the minuteness, yet wonder, of our own existence as human beings and as a living planet. It’s an unsettling collection full of existential, dark moments but I hope readers will also get that sense of awe – the feeling of vastness of space and time, which we can never quite grasp. There are also more prosaic, nostalgic pieces – memories of childhood and my love of Sci Fi films which show I became interested in the Universe and why I am preoccupied by this subject as a writer.

Thanks for this opportunity, Sarah – I hope that readers connect with this poem and feel its strangeness; also hope take the leap of faith and get the book. It’s wild, weird, trippy. An experience!


Light a taper, listen to a note’s
echo through the vault.

The draught will shake the flame,
at the end of a wave, silence.

Stand with black all around you
and feel anything there may be.

Anyway you turn is infinity,
as light sears the void.

At the altar, stand before a window
of celestial light.

Dive through, dolphin-dark,
plunge through shattered glass.

into abyss.

Matthew M. C. Smith is a writer from Swansea, Wales. His second collection, The Keeper of Aeons, is forthcoming with Broken Spine Arts, following Origin: 21 Poems in 2018. He is ‘Best of the Net’-nominated three times and his work can be read in Poetry Wales, iamba poet, The Lonely Crowd, Arachne Press, Barren Magazine, Icefloe Press, Atrium Poetry, The Storms and Fevers of the Mind. Matthew is the editor of Black Bough Poetry, The Silver Branch Project and MC of weekly global poetry weekly event on Twitter @TopTweetTuesday

Matthew collects signed poetry books, vintage Star Wars and gets the kids out of the house as much as possible, usually with a Rugby ball.

Twitter: @MatthewMCSmith @blackboughpoetry

Insta: smithmattpoet Also on FB.