Pennine Poets

Chris Andrew

Chris Andrew was born in Ashton-U-Lyne in 1968 and now works for the National Health Service in Bradford. He combines refining his poetic craft with an abiding interest in the spiritual and esoteric, matters which frequently give focus to his verse. Chris's poetry combines form, lyricism and wry insight. To disengage his poetic brain, Chris likes nothing better than an evening playing 'Galaxy Trucker'.

Selected Poems

A Steampunk Conversation

Dear child, for your birthday,
I will write it all in longhand;
transcribe the find into your school
copy book in painstaking Latin.
Suffice to say subject S625
was a little deficient in calcium,
suffered cataracts, but otherwise
was quite healthy. Submerged in
tundra, she slowly transformed
over aeons, into the dark
leaves of a book.

She drowned in mud, nearly
forty years old. As you know
it was all rather misunderstood
by the press and sensationalist
hack poets. The best wrote
afterwards of tusks like scimitars
and golden warrior hide remarkably
intact; and so her body was stolen,
sold for a song. Her fingerprint
skin exposed in some travelling fair,
from Quebec to Nova Scotia...

Entrance fee only a dollar I'm told.
She decomposed to bones and hair
within three weeks, but even with
the stench they queued long in the rain.

However we kept something back
from the public. When you are older
I will talk of this detailed aspect;
how we cut from the permafrost
more than one treasure book, nearly
a complete family - a DNA library!

For we found two. The Mother died
holding onto her baby. (Jojo we called her,
a tender name - lovely ginger curls...)
The two slipped into a pit and drowned.
(Don't cry child, I know your soft heart.)

So we have our baby Mammoth,
have preserved her like a jewel.
We are uncovering her secrets ever so
slow - the great cellular lore. All the giants
are involved; Charles Darwin, Tesla,
even the famous polymath Charles Babbage.
The best minds from Natural History
all contribute; each sworn to secrecy.

One day I will write how we used
soft tufts preserved around her
rectum, extracted thigh marrow,
and how her stomach preserved a
glorious meal of wild grasses and
hairless flowering plants. We know
what Jojo liked to nibble in summer...
our team can begin their splendid work.

       *       *      *

Dear Father, I write to you this
fine Spring day in Cambridge 2013.
Your work was not in vain - we now have
three herds of Mammuthus primigenius
roaming the plains of French Columbia
plus our share in the profits of the burger
chain increase. Supported by our new
factory farm, we all continue to work.

Last week the first Plesiosaur babies swam
for real in Loch Ness - the irony would
hardly be lost on you dear Bairnie Wonner,
with your proud Glaswegian roots.
(Each had a cute periscope head
like that turn of the century photograph.)

We are also piloting our first steam powered
flight, to take us above the stratosphere.
Guided by Babbage's Difference Engine,
if God be willing, for the first time
Man will leave this lonely planet.

All these projects have the blessing,
the sanction, of our Empress Victoriana
the Second, who is of course
your final Royal clone, preserving
the Hanover blood-line, and if I may
make so bold, Daddy, as your eyes twinkle
down from your copper bust, a decided
improvement on the First.

Van Gogh In Leeds

I imagine him wandering among
the coloured graves, adorned with
simple two-tone plastic fascias,
mellow towerblocks caressed
with segments of light,
certain sunsets.

I see his battered hat reflected
in fields of glass - pressed up to
rooms full of deals, VDU screens
to view peasants disguised
strangely, under pin-stripes.

Then he's gone away
following the long curling canal
exploring the many wastelands
of brick, his restless eye noting
each cracked up vista,
searching for the characterful,
the beautiful, the real.

And at weekends
when we try to romanticise,
to find love in the bunched
towns of northern manufacture,
he paints dignified tall grey clouds
gradiated into twenty industrial shades,
as if he'd never needed or examined colour.

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