Issue 31: Mark Byers

late spring (east wood)




late era of the hellebore

& the upstart crocus –

yellow scales sheathing

the perimeter wall –

the common technics        

of the catkin & the con-

voluted fungi – (enough

is enough…) – moss

in the tumbled stones

where a fir leans

against its categories –

marbled cloud-forms

behind a screen of trees:






listening to the crow’s








                                & Rhododendron hybrids


                              their bony syntax


                                          in the understory


                  roots in the acid loam

                                              of Sichuan








restring the lyric’s torque and jabber


                         to the guillemots’ angles mort –


               a beeline around the menhir


                                      where the angle of sight


takes in the oak over the cairn


                its tablets engraved


                              with croziers, zigzags,


                aurochs and whales –


while the boat struggles out in the passage


                          from subject to object


              and the cased wings of the cricket


                                  are the granite lines


carved with tools of quartz –


                          a rough crossing, un-


           navigable in places


     between the still and the stilled island


                     currents –






Points Bridge (25 April 2023, notation 4)


the sand martins are beside themselves again —

                                                   saltimbanque & antic

                            neither here nor there


manoeuvring between struts of wrought-iron

                                       to flit & fret :

            call it exhibitioning —


& below them the red campion & the lungwort :

                                                                 the indefensible

                        ethics of the leaf litter :


                                         pollen & bone meal :

             the mini-demesne of the nematode


crossing dandelion country

                on our predictable wayward course






Dunstanburgh 12.2.23


the anvil of the song thrush


the shallow arc of the tern ::


butter-yellow gorse

embers by the jamb’s

clutter of snail debris


who is it that sees through the marsh-grass

& sea-holly ::

the bladderwrack & underfoot amber periwinkle



not me –


:: a difficult observer


saying the language of the lyric

is set to autofill


abstruser speech


:: a blunt instrument


this vocabulary of salt & weathered stone

Mark Byers teaches at Newcastle University and lives in Northumberland. His first book was Charles Olson and American Modernism: The Practice of the Self (OUP 2018). Other recent ‘notation’ poems are forthcoming in Shearsman Magazine.

Copyright © 2023 by Mark Byers, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author