BAKINGS

Bakings is The Bakehouse’s new online literary magazine – poems submitted by invitation alongside recordings of featured poets from previous Bakehouse events. Trawl through the site to find fine poetry from Scotland and beyond alongside film poems and illustrations.  Items are in the order of most recent first, or use our index to see a list of items arranged alphabetically by author.
Alphabetical Index by Author

Touch the lucky lead : Liz Niven

 

If only it was so easy

but fate's sealed the future.

No fortune's found

at a forefinger's touch;

the spot rubbed clean,

lead shining silver

on cold cave walls.

Transforming base materials,

it's what we all want;

lives altered to perfection overnight,

when really we work away silently,

long term.

Rubbing till we've fashioned

an existence into

something manageable.

Sometime striking gold.


Note: At Wanlockhead mining village, the miners would rub a patch on the wall at the entrance to the cave, in the hope that they would not be involved in an accident and that they might find precious metals.

The Word of Bernadette : Anna Crowe

 

That pretty, petulant face. I can still see her –

blue eyes, black curls flying – dancing round me

on the flagstones by those big, shady trees

in the school-yard, flicking questions at me

about England: a place I remembered as pale

and drab, back-gardens watered down with rain;

a polite sameness of brick, (and, somewhere, surely,

my new bike and roller-skates, left behind).

What did she ask me, and what did I say

that brought her to a shocked standstill?

It was wiped out by her cry: C’est un mensonge!

What is this word? I move closer, wanting

her to repeat it, and she flinches, thinks

I’m about to slap her but, Qu’est-ce que

ça veut dire? I ask (a useful phrase).

Poised for flight, she flings out, Que c’est pas vrai!

Accused of lying, I should be angry

but, mensonge, I murmur, mensonge;

testing those vowels that could slip,

become mon songe, though only if I say so.

I take my word to share with the unknown trees.


Note: un songe in French means ‘a dream’, and un mensonge is ‘a lie’

The Note : Anna Crowe

Much later, she could see they’d colluded.

The two of them against him once again.

She remembered how all that day

the thunder prowling in the mountains

had muttered in their throats;

the piano a sullen lake; the way the house

had filled with their own weather.

As Scrabble set in for the evening

it was there in black and white:

how they’d occupied one corner of the board,

her mother’s rack a clot of consonants,

hers all vowels, like wordless cries.

Costive and small, their blocks

accused them, refusing to spell out

a word as long as forgiveness.

The television sucked her father’s face

into its glare, and had him cursing

as snow wiped out the film.

They sat silent while he swilled old griefs,

his shaking hands clasping a glass

he’d never finish emptying.

Recalling their alibis – her mother tucked up

with a whodunit, the girl following her father

out to the garage to settle the cat –

it’s clear now that when the glass exploded,

showering the empty kitchen with glittering dust,

the storm had caught the authentic note of the house,

pausing merely to run its finger round the rim.

Tension : Liz Niven

I am knitting my way through lockdown.

Jumpers for grandchildren.

Three down, one to go.

I finger the wool like worry beads.

Everything has turned into

the terminology of wool.

It’s a one-ply world. 

Thin. 

Frail.

There is little pattern to the days.

We eat, we sleep, we make do.

Morning, afternoon, night merge seamlessly.

Ribbed by death reports.

Lives have been lost, carelessly, like dropped stitches,

many have dropped through the cracks,

of poverty, vulnerability, instability.

Instructions have been inaccurate.

Our threadbare world has unravelled.

If there’s an upside, might it be that we can darn a hole

in our now emission-free earth?

Compensate the tardiness, delusional exceptionalism.

The News is permeated by 

sharp clack of needle on needle, 

verse on verse, the rhythm of the rows.

Metal clicks like a clock. Time passes.

In the end, buttons will need threaded, anchored.



Beleaguered : Joanna Lilley

 

She stays below the tree line

to be unseen among the crowded saplings,

spruces, firs. She’d planned to hike,

invisibly, the breadth of the boreal biome

west to east, from her makeshift

Beringian home to a shielded shore.

She hasn’t left yet, though.

She even bought a house and paid

for a divorce. She’s calculating

how many moments in this synergetic forest

are reduced in rapture by each mosquito

that yaws towards her neck, by every plump,

green larvae swinging on white silk towards

her cheek. She’s still too human.

For every flower she learns,

she forgets two birds. She’s leaving

one day. She knows too many people now

and more are always coming.

The newcomers are especially fatiguing.

They pluck, pickle, build, run, ultra,

shoot, according to the season. She feels

the ricochets as she sits on a fallen log

to give the dog more woodland time.

While everyone is doing, she undoes.

First the clinging fingers of the earnest ex,

then an employer or two. She’s waterproofed

her boots and tightened her trekking pole.

The dog can come but no one else.