Three poems by William Thompson

Photo by Jinen Shah on Unsplash

 
 
 

    Farm Work

 

Your first car catches heat like a tin roof,
white clouds snag on the barbed wire

of vapour trails against a background
of powder blue. A forklift lurches past.

The pig-shed stench is thick with gold
under ash canopies and powerlines.

‘Why don’t you get down Tottenham, boy?
Get us a new TV!’ It’s August, 2011.

The yardman laughs. You finish off a can
and plug an aux cable into the stereo.

You spin the wheel of your iPod, then car,
then speed off into the rest of your life.

 
 
 

    Nightjar

 

At rest, like a crocodile’s snout
emerging from calm water:

contour feathers or plated scales
the colour of brown schist.

In flight, graceful as a hawk,
fantail expanding and retracting

like an F14. Song a high-pitched
pneumatic drill, gape as wide

as a striking snake. Patrolled
the heath at dusk. Made twigs snap

like a campfire. Not seen
round here for a hundred years.

 
 
 

    Cellar

 

No doubt a new owner will have turned it
into a ‘snug’ – white paint over bare brick
beanbags, a Smart TV, the soft glow-worms
of fairly lights. But I remember the first step
into the dark – the half hollowed-out, half muted
clop of your heel on a wooden staircase.
Then the scent of damp soil, the pockmarked drapes
of cobwebs. And everything left down there
ending up bloated, crusted and sewage-brown
like metal salvaged from the ocean floor.
Passage booby-trapped with rusty nails
and broken glass, that we picked through
to the lime green, open air blush of an apple tree.
Way before all that, my grandad’s work bench
dominates the space like a cold slab in a morgue.
But there’s the warmth of body heat
when he drags his saw through a length of oak
and raises a fine, Sahara-coloured dust.
Next to him’s my father at five years old
who’s come into that place of work and wants
to stay. He receives an offcut, a small hammer
and so, becomes absorbed in happy imprecision
as he tap, tap, taps on panel pins. All this
remembered or imagined on the threshold
of my father’s office one weekend I’m at home
and he turns and smiles before I even knock.

 
 

William Thompson

About William Thompson

William Thompson is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol. Born in Cambridgeshire in 1991, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wild Court, The Honest Ulsterman, One Hand Clapping, Raceme, New Critique, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-21 (Black Spring, 2021).