Here is a collection of poetry written by students at the University of Exeter, all inspired by the theme of ‘winter’. Thank you to the Dead Poet’s Society for a lot of these contributions. This is in addition to the two poems selected in our print magazine which were Bebe Ashley’s “the water will take me” and “John” by Mohammed Patel. You can view them here: https://issuu.com/razzmag/docs/razz_magazine_winter_2016 We’ve also featured some of our winter photography submissions alongside the poetry, these were submitted by Lea Esteban, Henry Davies, Douglas Fung and Zachery Xavier.
I walk the route of the paper round I had
when I was thirteen,
and 6:30AM was an undiscovered land.
Concrete, flat tires, closed
Curtains drawn, heavy sky,
silenced alarms, sleep, sleep,
my breath is the same cloud it was
eight years ago, trailing behind me
as I walk, heavy boots knocking through
the morning dark.
Sleep, sleep lingering in the corners
of my eyes.
I take holidays where I used to explore;
I visit these cold, dark mornings occasionally
so that my bed is
when I slip back into it.
It was on a dead white winter’s day in the clinic when they told me
there was a malady with my neurotransmitter.
Many years ago they built a Television for my head.
Old footage of my life flashes on repeat as deathly silent
traces of memories collect together on the surface
of the screen. Little clouds of images drift up
and fade away again,
like the 20 second dreams of the Lumieres brothers,
foggy at the edges.
We are in an empty train carriage at night,
bruised in deep blue.
Now we are under the polluted glow of another memory, with
ruptured blue-black spots swirling around a school trip.
You have to be careful though; it is easy
to be led astray by the pulsating traffic of memory.
I find a job amusing small crowds by tuning myself to documentaries about ocean
wildlife. I can feel the waves of the Arctic Ocean rocking and crashing as
a distant sea
rages just behind my flickering face.
Even I, in my little boat, can’t escape time’s irresistible thaw.
For Chloe’s Wintered Skin
For it has worn the scars of my lipstick
For it has been stained and smudged with black ink
For it is a chameleon, changing colour with the seasons
For it has touched me like she touches snow-sprinkled violas
For it has fingered the throat of a wine bottle again and again
And stood empties like soldiers on the window ledge
For it has faltered and painted the cream carpet red
For it has shuddered at the scream of tyres spinning on ice
And of china dispersing in fragments across the kitchen tiles
For it has hidden, this winter, beneath thick knit sweaters and mink fur
And it has been naked, unapologetically, beneath my heavy stares
For it has curled in on itself in the cold like a used toothpaste tube
For it has swollen, like bee stings, chiefly about the eyes
For it has worn rings of zucchini and aubergine on blueing fingers
For it has lain, a moment, as if we were woven
For it has been torn at her hand – but it has sewn itself together, again
It has wept – from wrists marked by labyrinthine seams
Stilled – by clinical glances in a tarnished bathtub
And it has let her stay
The Fall of Summer
It’s time to sweep away the softening sun.
Darkness has descended; feathered, falcon-like;
Feasting on day’s flesh now light is overrun.
But dawn died long before that fateful strike.
Glimmers of gold whispered through lush leaves,
Falling, upon soundless ears, cries unheard;
Herald soon what senseless sense antecedently grieves.
‘Twas these mellow days first her heart was stirred.
With cold caresses, rabbits fled foretold frost;
Those frigid kisses quelling tender Summer.
Children fear that ancient truth; love must cost;
Through sleeting, sleepless nights, she grew number.
Now Summer lies shrouded in silken snow.
Bloodless petals cleave to their decaying corpse;
While Winter watches through ice-bound-eyes,
In slow, soft, symphony, with the shifting skies.
You jump first into the pile of leaves.
I watch you, think of the slugs, the wet decay.
I cannot stop you as you
Take my hand and pull.
The leaves crunch under my weight.
I am cold and damp and the slick leaves
Stick to my hair and arms, but then I
Notice the way the leaves
Musk the air, the way the cold
Bites and crinkles in my nose,
How the light shifting in the trees
Is golden and alive, setting
To think that you and I are the same as a leaf,
Sinking and curling into ourselves with fire,
Until one day we lose control of the burn,
Complete the fall, join the dirt, and all
The small creatures will devour our flesh,
Until only our bones gleam white, waiting, our echo.
The realisation that I am alone renews itself every November.
I rely on winter jumpers (there’s no summer love left) for warmth,
Amongst other things:
Books, hot chocolate, add a splash or three of
Bailey’s/Vodka/Whatever I can afford these days. Regret is expensive.
The countdown to Christmas begins.
Darkness seeps into the pale evening sky.
Is she smoking, or simply breathing?
Invisible cigarettes hide in every winter coat pocket.
The darkness seeps into my mind.
I wrap my sun-kissed, sun-fucked skin in layers, colourful scarves, black gloves –
The melanin in my skin refuses to adapt.
I like to pretend that everybody is smoking,
Each exhalation a confession of a sin;
Cravings indulged. Truths obscured from loved ones. Promises broken.
Predispositions inherited, malnourished, eventually accepted…
November is truly the bleakest of the Autumn months.
This poem was inspired by Thomas Pruden’s photo, shown below.
Layers of obsidian like reptilian scales
Forever fall from the frozen earth.
The pounding waves and fierce gales:
Forever Nature exacts its worth –
On this solitary windswept precipice,
Dark rock bleeding into the arctic sea,
The world finally knows hopelessness.
Upwards, the sky puddles with
Fountain pen ink, which dribbles
Little wet streaks down my coat
And paints my hair black.
The cold gets in my bones this year.
I sit, bathed in star-shadow,
On a frosted bench of a grave-yard meadow:
The cold gets in my bones.
Is there an absence as complete
As the full earth-circle made around a hole
So whole, and dark as the sky puddles,
Which dye me, back again. Black again.
Baptised in the word-water of unwritten letters,
I’ll rise again, perhaps, when the roots catch,
When the buds force themselves skyward, and
The earth twists herself orbital-onwards.
Until then, I think I’ll sit here a while.
Everything is the same and that is why Winter
Shows me fear in a hand full of ice:
In the cold light of a distant moon,
The memory of warmth
Crumbles like snow to the ground.
– Rebecca Shapland