Nigel Kent is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019) who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poets Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.
He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. Some of his work has been translated by Mariana Zavati Gardner for the literary journals, Banchetful and Pro Saeculum.
In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. His pamphlet, Psychopathogen, about life during Lockdown has just been published.
For more information visit his website: www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj
I hear you calling from the garden: struggling to shake free a blackbird trapped in the net that protects our pond, but the filaments, snarled around its neck and legs; tighten with each shake and yank limp wings sharply out of shape. The only option, scissors. You watch me snip away each bond, clapping when the bird flutters off unhurt, its lesson learnt. Later, our taxi waiting, I come to fetch you from the kitchen and wait whilst you test the loyalty of locks, the fidelity of switches, the innocence of hands; unable to untangle you from a mesh of doubts and fears that every day you try to shut away in ordered drawers but can’t. You must drag them down the path, trailing behind you where they’re bound to snag upon a thought and tug you back towards the house for ‘One last time!’ but today, I hustle you away, past the liberated bird, perched upon the fence, and wonder if I’ll ever find the means to cut you free.
Every night the same: outside the store in rain that won’t let up. Twentieth in the queue to purchase a slice or two of normal at once-in-a lifetime prices. Feet behind the hazard line, she waits for the lad in the fashion mask to ratchet the queue forward , one shopper at a time. Her list isn’t long: just a few essentials: a brand-new routine to replace the one that’s broken; a made-to-measure job, suitable for every season, and something special for her daughter, a kitemarked, five-star future, but at the checkout with each item scanned and totalled, it always plays the same: her card’s declined for insufficient funds. She has to try again tomorrow.
After the all clear
When doctors declared him all clear there was no dancing in the streets, no confetti canon fired in celebration, no bunting strung across the street. Instead he retreated to his sickbed in the blacked-out room, unable to blink away the darkness that made shadows of the light. Though they’d armed him with statistics, and said that he’d be fine, he couldn’t find the strength to make a truce with peace. For hours he’d hide behind the bathroom door checking, checking, checking for the enemy within and at night he’d lie awake, waiting, waiting, waiting; surrendered to the certainty that the attack would soon resume. His body had betrayed him, threatened him with death, and now the sounds of sirens wouldn’t leave his head.