I’ve Just Invented the Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Form

Boxing Day and I’m in the garden
practising the Tai Chi Spear Form
with the curtain pole that Andy found
for me in the tip. The kids are watching
through the window over breakfast.
I’m just doing the final moves:
Bright Rainbow Soaring to the Sun,
Lying Tiger Diving Dragon,
Plum Blossom Opens Five Petals,
Celestial Horse Walks the Skies…
when Luke opens the back door
and lobs the sprout stalk at my head.
‘Watch out, Dad,’ he says. I rescue
the sprout stalk from the fig tree
and spontaneously invent and perform,
there and then, the Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Form.
I even have names for the moves:
Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Beginning Style
Wet Dishcloth Wings Through Damp Air
Helicopter Hovers Over Sycamore
Dustbin Lid Exits Coal Bunker at Speed
Rocking Chair Becomes Disagreeable
Dual Carriageway Gets Up and Walks
Bag of Flour Explodes at Bus Stop, there are Casualties
Rubber Ball Bounces in Dark Subway
Sash Window Slams Shut on Ring Finger
Coat Hanger Exacts Revenge on Privet Hedge
Windmill Plays Saxophone in High Wind
Banana Smashes Pineapple on Lino
Telephone Wires Entangle in Radio Waves
Ironing Board Makes Sandwich with Secret Ingredient
Public Library Saves City from Avalanche
Warehouse Fills Sky, Sky Exacts Revenge
Sherbert Dab Takes Umbrage and Spins
Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Completion Style
I lean it against the fig tree. Now – breakfast.



Cliff Yates‘ various collections include Henry’s Clock, which received the Fenton-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was overall winner of the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition.




At Christmas

All Easyjet flights
are cancelled – only
difficult journeys now.
Three in party hats
come dragging their presents
over a snowy car park.
A few attendants shepherd
them into a building:
the call to desert places.
Looking up for a moving
light or at Sky
News. Stasis over
the business empires.
A child has made an angel
by the automatic barrier
and a mother feeds her baby.
This breathtaking, breath-
making fall.



John Greening is a Cholmondeley, Bridport & TLS Prize winner, he’s published over fifteen collections, including in 2019 The Silence (Carcanet) and Europa’s Flight (New Walk). He is currently editing Iain Crichton Smith www.johngreening.co.uk

Down times




Down Times

No cake, this time.
Onions 140 a kilo.
Eat bread someone said, no cake.

We circle the crust with chocolate
Borrowed from the nearby store.
Colour the insides – brown, deep brown, black.

Punch holes for eyes,
A curve of sun for a smile
But forget to toast, bread or sunshine.

This time, those to call my own
Are with me.
That is cake.

The whole world is a friend
This time.
Even that pig nuzzling against my door

Asking to be in, this cold dawn.
I was dreaming – onions, milk, a whole month’s supplies
And a little note saying – don’t give up- from Santa.



Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poetry has been published around the world, in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, the UK, USA, South Africa, Kenya and Germany, and in the anthologies, 40 under 40: An Anthology of Post Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala), A Change of Climate (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and the University of Edinburgh) and the Sahitya Akademi anthology of Modern English Poetry. His poems have also appeared on street walls of Christchurch, exhibitions in Johannesburg and buses in Philadelphia. His recent collection of poems, River Wedding, has just been published by Poetrywala and has been widely reviewed. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.