torrid tanned cobbles, ovalled,
watch numb graves watching back
at wagging boys scaling stacks
of morainic concretions
left from slow floes.
Roots tentacle lamina grounds,
rope swing noosed over boss’ frown
initiates these ephebes, taking
turns through covet, making
brave leaps as grinning clan
stand with stones, marksman
each oscillating rite. In quarries
boys bioturbate to burtite.
The Cutting #2
Sephardim boys shadow
BMXs behind businesspark rails,
search Hayes Cutting in dayra drifts
for edge-base away from mom’s gaze.
Corrugated iron, tipped tyres chipped
bricks form dens on basal beds. Nearly
teen Safina etched into dusty anticline
with the sharp end of rusted fails.
Wargames of pebble shots at tramps’ tinnies
punctuate trials with dad’s superkings
then top trumps, then bush porn. This dipping
sequence holds placoderm, polypterid, actinopteri
and youthful peregrinations, grinding against ghost lineage.
R. M. Francis is a lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton and is currently the poet in residence for the Black Country Geological Society. These poems form part of his ongoing work with them. He's the author of five poetry pamphlet collections, his debut novel, Bella, was published with Wild Pressed Books. Smokestack Books are publishing his collection of poems, Subsidence, in December 2020.