Taking Stock

Stephen Kingsnorth

A portrait of the artist as a young man, but with the seeds of blooms still on display…



I carried a Pisa pile

towards the door desk, greyish tinge.

The bright street frontage, poster glow

felt-tip scrawl announced, not Alexandria,

but fire damaged stock for sale.


High School me, taken self to town,

found this people-free paradise;

miser pocket-money in pig-skin purse

and upstairs warehouse, rickets stairs.


Cubic capacity, volume of books,

as if building razed, scarred library,

leaving untidy, uneven

brick foundation course which might

totter, crumble, bravely stand,

though interleaved mortar might fall about.


Column or torus, cheapest heaps,

towers, footstools, pilae stacks,

with floor before another plinth,

classic publishers fading pink,

a hypocaust for everyman,

Dutton, Dent and Routledge,

English bricks in global walls.


Picking through rough rubble site,

bombsite pages still bound, intact,

I sifted authors, faint pencil fly

just a dime/tanner, though ‘just’ is mine.


Juvenile choices from printer’s block tray,

lines with words, incunabulae

of literature, devoured by hungry,

on every page of history,

appetite never satisfied.


Short boy, still teen, conservative in style,

probably in jacket, tie,

like tight-rope walker

stretched balance reaching towards cash register.

I waited while she totted total shillings spent.    


Seeing selection for my shelves,

she posed was I a teaching man?

Now feel six feet tall

I chuckled, denied,

but volumes carried, swelled with pride,

a glow recalling embers laid

around these for basement prices paid.

If she could read those light lead-marks,

eye-sight good in that dinge site,

more confident my bus stop stride.


Though fifty on, two yards from here,

those tomes look grand; yet still unread.





First published by Literary Yard

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, most recently Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Parliament Literary Magazine, Poetry Potion, Grand Little Things, The Poet Magazine.

His blog is at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com

Stephen Kingsnorth

Caitlin McKenna
Wedding Ring Hairball