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Alchemy (The Day the World Stood Still)


In April, 2021, Ian curated, edited and published a poetry anthology with Archway Publishing / Simon & Schuster, along with Leeds music legend, Michael Roberts.


When the planet went into lockdown, many who create for a living or for fun or as part of childhood found themselves being funneled into new ways of expression. Whether it was by design or the path of least resistance or by strict and enforced measures, the mind, we started to see, might adapt and evolve in many astonishing ways, for she needs to keep busied and purposeful.

I contacted friends, who in turn put out the word that there was an open forum, without specifications, without age limits; a blank page for those who wanted it. Seasoned and cynical poets, wanted hackers on the run, novelists, fathers, mothers, rock stars, grieving friends, ramblers, pals, big mouths, more shy types, Germans, and young uns. Welcome, all.


Thank you, all.

This is your book.

When you are asked one chilly night far in the future, “Grampa/Nana, what did you do during the plague?”

You might rub your hands in front of a warm hearth, smile, chuckle and declare, “I was a poet.”

The proof of this you now hold in your hands.



By Christ, I will empty my head today

And scribble for fun and not for the pay.

“Are chipmunks soft?’ my daughter asks,

As I ponder today’s two unburdening tasks.

And if one day I am left alone by the flutey sea,

I shall heed the lessons of alchemy.


The city will bake three hours to the south.

She can do as she wants, she bothers me nowt.

For this is how death must feel.

Life goes on, and nothing seems real.

If I sit down with eggs for tea,

I shall note with ink such alchemy.


So this halfway house to death seems bliss,

A curious blue tit came in for a kiss.

She asked this man to be her friend,

Fooled by our blind rush to our end.

And when we leave the bears to be free,

Nature will master our alchemy.


And if here lies the body of this scribe,

Guilty of one last urge to imbibe,

Then this citrus morn with light on the lake

Takes a floundered spirit to shake.

The laps of soft tide on the hull entrance me

Like smoke to hold, this alchemy.


I once climbed a willow for a better view.

I breathed as a god and dredged up you.

Your Amalfi fig lips, I could not hear,

But this took me close to my elixir.

There was no fraud, just chemistry.

I shall crack the code of alchemy.


Rapture is sniffed in caveman-fashion,

Unwashed, unholy, elevated passion

Simplicity is the essence of fine

Immodestly feminine and divine

She with eyes of lime and verdigris,

My eternal, exposed love of alchemy.



My pocket watch is lost between noon and tea,

The yardarm in a pothole, yards above sea.

I cannot shove time, I must simply wait,

Far simpler a task than to relive a date.

And the patience I show in this wait to be free,

Is matched by a robust alchemy.


And with mid-morning here, I turn my back

On the water and boats, and womb of my shack.

Through golden midges and on country lanes,

I shall stick on 16 with my ill-gotten gains.

As I silently ask to share the po-faced lamb’s lea,

I start to grasp her lordly alchemy.


Day-by-day, I now shed all ambition

Tumble headlong into an old crackpot’s mission.

To Darwinian doglegs, too crooked to evolve?

A week more of this, this puzzle is solved.
A last breath is nigh, this marvel is free.

Armed to bright teeth with alchemy.


                                                                -Ian Thornton

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