Being Private

The scrabble of magpie claws stops.
Rain drums on the roof. And rain
pouring its deluge down the sloping window
wavers the garden into coloured streamers.

Birds still flit from bush to tree, so close
I’m in there with them.
This shed becoming overgrown is part
of their garden. Unlike the house

where people come and go, who open windows,
empty rubbish, brush paths, weed.
In here I’m part of the garden.
Secret but not hiding. Waiting

for words that might come to explain
this feeling of otherness and sanctuary.
And the rain must be there, as important
as a curtain round a hospital bed.


Catherine Benson

(published in 'Untitled as Yet', Smith/Doorstop 2013)


Leaves are just thin wood

No, I don’t read French.
Do you have a translation?
I’m from Birmingham.
Let’s go for a walk in the woods. It’s raining.

Bring the billiard table.
I have the balls in my trouser pockets.
Can you manage?
Here, let me hold the door.

Yes I agree, the rain. Did I mention
the importance of parks in the black country?
It’s not that interesting. Mind
the rosa rugosas, their thorns
and the climber with the orange hips.

All the other woods are memories
preparing us for this one.

If I tell anyone she’ll kill me.
No, really – a dart through the forehead.
Look at my hands – people call it stigmata
but really it’s darts.

We quarrelled in the autumn.
We quarrelled about the milk.
In the morning she left, took the bed with her.


Cliff Yates


Catherine Benson and Cliff Yates are reading as part of a Poetry Business event.


Catherine Benson spent most of her childhood in Scotland and now lives in Bradford. Her poems have been published in many anthologies for both adults and children. She also illustrates poems for children including, her poet husband Gerard Benson’s collections for children, and recently illustrated two adult anthologies. She has won prizes in several competitions: the Peterloo, Buxton, Templar, Scottish National, TES, Oldie, New Statesman and Spectator, and been broadcast on BBC radio. Her two adult collections, It Must Have Been a Sunday and Untitled as Yet are both published by Smith/Doorstop. As to the subject matter of her writing, it rather chooses her, from life experiences past and present. She’s passionate about nature and has reared many a creature from birds, cats, mice to geckos, beetles, frogs and stick insects, of course not all at the same time! Though rather a techno phobe, she’s excited about being in Antiphon.


Cliff Yates’ collections include 'Henry’s Clock' (Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition), 'Frank Freeman’s Dancing School' (Salt) and a recent pamphlet from Knives Forks & Spoons, 'Bike, Rain'. He will launch his 'Selected Poems', an ebook from Smith/Doorstop, during Sheffield Poetry Festival. He lives in Cheltenham.