… although Tom already lives in Norwich, so he will miss out on the train ticket / Travelodge fun that is part of the Astronaut touring experience. Someone on the train with us on the way to the Nottingham show listened in to our chat, googled our details and emailed a fan message to one of our number the next day. If anything like that happens again on our way to Norwich, we’ll be sure to let Tom know too.

Tom came to our attention when he was part of the Faber New Poets scheme a couple of years ago. we were the sort of girls who had violin lessons so we were immediately drawn to the characters in this poem …

Under Natural History

every mushroom-picking pocket book I find
contains some kind of disclaimer.

Collecting mushrooms to eat is dangerous.
No field guide is ever comprehensive.

So I bought two, and slung them in a rattan basket.
The kind of basket some of the girls at school

would nurse from Home Ec. in the crook of their elbows.
The kind of girls, like Suzanne Galloway, with thick tights

who sometimes carried violins in rigid cases
for lunchtime sessions in the music block.

All welcome.
Open. Optional. Twelve o’clock.

Once, Brett Coupe pulled the heavy doors open wide enough
for us to peer in at girls standing without their blazers,

violins trapped beneath their chins like telephones or windy babies,
and at their feet were cases filled with satin and crushed velvet.

I kick my boots clean outside and leave them at the door.
On the kitchen table I drop a basket full of mushrooms,

some red as blood, some purple and crinkly-edged
some squishy cups like orange water lilies.

I’m pretty sure this one’s an Amethyst Deceiver.
You ask me why I’d take that risk, but I can’t really answer.

More poems here.


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