August's Spotlight fell on Keith Hutson.
Keith has written for Coronation Street and many well-known comedians. Since starting to submit his poetry a couple of years ago, he's been in several journals including The Rialto, The North, Butcher's Dog, Pennine Platform, and has work forthcoming in Stand, The Interpreter's House and Magma. This year he won a Poetry Business Yorkshire Prize, judged by Billy Collins. Keith used to co-edit the online journal Hinterland, and he runs a creative writing class at the Square Chapel in Halifax, where he also hosts the monthly WordPlay spoken word and music event. He delivers poetry and performance workshops for Children And The Arts (Prince's Trust). He coaches boxing too.
The Observer’s Book of Ships
Wet again in Devon. Plastic macs
drip shallows on the café floor.
Everyone’s fed up, but facts are facts:
there’s no return, till after four,
to Mrs Frigate’s guesthouse. Someone
tells him not to slurp his milkshake –
can’t be done. Dad and Uncle aren’t on
speaking terms. Mum and Auntie fake
a smile, beaming at the pepper pot,
the rain hats on their laps, his egg
and chips. He’d like to raise a laugh, but
that’s not easy with your leg red
from a recent slap. The damp and heat
steam from his betters’ flattened hair,
casting family as an aging fleet
decked out in Co-op leisure wear.
There’s treasure in his pocket, untouched
till another pot of tea heaves
to. He shifts and fidgets just enough
to sneak it out and thumb the leaves
below the tablecloth. Nobody knows
he’s spent his spends, the lot, on one
compendium of tonnage, tankers, bows
and port sides, plimsoll lines and trim.
Hold hard me hearty until hammock-ho!
– safe waters for a boy’s delight
in flags and funnels, brig and ballast. Stow
that cargo! Keep it covered. Sail at night.
© Keith Hutson