#SelectedPoetry – April


As spring unfurls its tapestry across the landscape, The Broken Spine is thrilled to present a selection of poetry that captures the essence of renewal, reflection, and the intricate dance between the past and the present. Curated with care by our editors, David Hanlon and Katie Jenkins, our April feature brings to light the works of poets whose voices echo the diverse experiences and emotions that poetry can evoke.

Martin Kennedy Yates, emerging from the rich literary soil of Merseyside and the Black Country, offers A Canalside Calling, a piece that immerses the reader in the sacredness found in urban stillness. Through his evocative lines composed in the Curzon Street Tunnel, Birmingham, Yates crafts a space where the mundane transforms into the divine, inviting us to find beauty and redemption in the overlooked corners of our world.

R.M. Kain, a stalwart of the South Wales open mic scene, brings a blend of humor and poignancy to our collection with Our Amen. Through a reflection on final words and unspoken gestures of love, KAIN’s work reminds us of the complexity of farewells and the unarticulated depth of our connections.

Peter J Donnelly’s She Wouldn’t Have a Dog explores the themes of preference, loss, and the bittersweet interactions with life’s simple joys and inevitable pains. Living in York, Donnelly draws from his rich background in English and Creative Writing to weave narratives that speak to the heart’s resilience in the face of life’s finite nature.

Prashanti Chunduri, with her self-described lens as an aesthete and word-painter, presents Home, Or Something Like It. This poem paints a vivid portrait of a city alive with contrasts, its beauty and chaos intertwined. Chunduri’s work invites us to embrace the complexity of the places that shape us, finding a sense of belonging amidst the cacophony.

Lesley Curwen, a poet and broadcaster from Plymouth, shares Father as Bridegroom, a poignant exploration of family, memory, and the elusive quest for connection. Curwen’s piece, reflective of her accolades and depth of experience, navigates the terrain of personal history and the shadows cast by absence, offering a lens through which we might understand our own stories.

This April, join us in celebrating these poets and their contributions to the rich landscape of contemporary poetry. Through their words, we are invited to explore the depths of human experience, the nuances of love and loss, and the ever-present possibility of finding beauty in the transient moments of life. Each poem serves as a beacon, guiding us through the complexities of the world with grace, wisdom, and an unwavering commitment to the transformative power of poetry.

Martin Kennedy Yates

Martin Kennedy Yates was born on Merseyside and raised in the Black Country region of the English Midlands. He is an emerging poet who has had work in recent editions of The Rialto, Stand, Poetry Wales, Butcher’s Dog, Anthropocene, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Storms, Finished Creatures, The Alchemy Spoon, The Madrigal and Magma. 

X: @ArcCreativeArts

A Canalside Calling 

Lines composed in the Curzon Street Tunnel, Birmingham.
In this dark, hard, holy place are pigeons –
forged from gunmetal and granite and flint 
with glints of silver, hints of jade and ruby.
They congregate on these great, grey girders
while trains trundle over minding us
of the unholy world grumbling above.
We sit tight, not quite unflappable, nor unruffled,
but holding humbly to our faith in silent stillness
in this sacred space beneath the city’s surface
with resonance like some place of worship.
There’s vibration here, in the whispers 
and silvering of wings when one bird swings 
from one perch to another to huddle closer
to a brother, sister, lover. Everything we hear 
is heard again, distinct and different.
Reverberation is also in the steely water
corrugating in the stiffening breeze,
refracting the thin sun and reflecting it 
to trim and trace these grim girders 
gold with lace. There is redemption 
for the discarded and the disregarded 
in this place. I feel it in my throat, 
this tremble of two notes, bass and treble, 
two tones, pulse and repercussion,
and I know that I am called 
to be a pilgrim, perhaps a priest, 
preacher, prophet even.
I feel such compulsion, somewhere 
between desire and duty,
to be at least a scribe 
for this devout and dogged beauty.

R.M. Kain

Robert is a familiar face on the open mic poetry circuit in South Wales, well-known for his comedic performances. He is also the author of the John McLean detective novels.

Our Amen

Had I known it was our last word
I would have sworn more affectionately
and not slammed the door.

I wouldn’t have hugged you
or kissed your forehead
lest it gave the game away.

Nor would I have
whispered my love
into your desperate ear.

Had I known these were our last moments
I would have smiled
and let you see the pain melt from my eyes,

and we would both have known
that only you could do that
and that would mean more 
than any words or touch or gesture.

Peter J Donnelly

Peter J Donnelly lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has degrees in English and Creative Writing from Lampeter University. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich, Lothlorien, Obsessed with Pipework, Southlight, High Window and Fragmented Voices. He was a joint runner up in the Buzzwords Open Poetry competition in 2020 and won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition in 2021. His first full length collection ‘Solving the Puzzle’ was published in 2023 by Alien Buddha Press, as was his chapbook ‘The Second of August’

X: @pj_donnelly

She Wouldn’t Have a Dog

Nor would she have a child
because she didn’t like either,
but why not a cat, perhaps 
her favourite animal?
Was it the thought of a flap
on her back door, 
saucers of food, milk
and water on the floor
of her kitchen with no utility area, 
or heaven forbid, litter trays?
The idea of cleaning those
would have made her stomach churn.
Accidents on her carpets would have
caused her blood to boil.
Vets bills, cattery fees, 
trusting a neighbour
with her keys – 
or was it the fear
of it getting run over, killed
or simply passing away,
as she’d have known it must one day?
But she loved it when Milly from 
next-door came into her garden,
would stroke her whilst 
sitting outside on the patio,
sipping her mid morning coffee. 

Prashanti Chunduri

Prashanti Chunduri (she/her) is a self-proclaimed aesthete, word-painter and armchair globetrotter. Her poetry, prose and fiction has been published by and in nether Quarterly, Borderless Journal, Terribly Tiny Tales, Poems India, Mad Swirl Poetry Forum, Women’s Web and Verse of Silence Magazine.

Instagram: @merelymetaphorical

Tumblr: yong-in-the-sun

Home, Or Something Like It

My city whispers,
hisses in ancient tongues, serpentine,
like its overflowing sewers, 
Writhes, in pleasure-pain,
as rain forcibly rips open the maws
of its veined, cracked sidewalks.
Whimpers, its menagerie of strays
howling, aiding the cacophony.
It whoops in joyful, dangerous abandon;
its beetle buses and bat cars 
squeal on splintering asphalt,

My city bleeds
yellow lamplight, 
dripping from closed shutters 
of stores buckling under the weight
of too many people, their broken dreams.
Dustbins seep and ooze juices,
unidentifiable, as swamps, deserts,
shorelines and floods set us shop
to match the blurry seasons.
Jagged skyscrapers with their saw-edged cliffs
reach into the wounded, clotting sky above,
serrated roofs matching the conversations within.

My city smacks its tongue,
the sour notes of garbage
twining with sweet perfumes,
taste buds sparking like 
the bright fluorescent bulbs
on the street food vendors’ carts.
It beckons and repulses,
its jaw stained with the sticky juices 
of acid-grey smog, rainbow-hued 
vegetable stalls, neon-tinged headlights.

My city gazes
with eyes both bleary and wistful,
through the pinpricks of light in
thousands of stained windows,
fogged from the panting of those within.
It peers, myopic, at the 
worn, ruddy faces of hawkers, 
the glistening pink ones of office-goers,
some with too much makeup pancake’d on,
others with pores so bare their thoughts leak out.

My city breathes,
through pollen-dust-filled lungs,
embroidered in seasons and pockmarked
by the people in its womb.

My city breathes through it all,
and with it, 
so do I.

Lesley Curwen

Lesley Curwen is a poet and broadcaster in Plymouth. She has been a finalist in the Wales Poetry Award, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has a collaborative pamphlet published by Nine Pens.

X: @elcurwen

Instagram: @elcurwen

Father as bridegroom

The first time ever I saw your face was a song in the seventies.
The first time ever I saw yours was a wedding snap, you with a fag

a carnation and a raffish smile.  No bride in view, a quiet joke
with your brother, the co-ordinates of your face unbearably strange. 

My mother had cut up your photos before I was three. 
Later I heard from someone very old that you had seen me 

once on TV. I was reporting a stock market scandal, or some
such trivial news.  I am told you called others to watch.

Perhaps you felt as I do now, scanning a new face for
likeness, temperament or the smallest tell of grace. 

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