Photo of Jenny Hockey

Jenny Hockey is a Sheffield poet whose work appears in magazines such as: The North, Obsessed with Pipework, The Frogmore Papers, Pennine Platform and Artemis. She received a New Poets Award from New Writing North in 2013 and her collection, ‘Going to bed with the moon’ was published by Oversteps Books in 2019. 

jennyhockeypoetry.co.uk

Borrowing Rights

They went to the library on the bus. They went to the library on Friday. Other girls rocked on the seats of swings, twined their legs round the chains. Boys circled on bikes. They went to the library on Friday, two books under an arm —

had no time for its 1930s façade, the fanlight’s flourish. Went for the beautiful stench of books, parquet clotted with Pledge — and little wooden gates, stoppered to muffle sound. Though out of the stacks came the roar of the tide, a grunted plotting of pigs, sometimes the rustle of clothing put on, its fated fall to the floor. Rebecca stood waiting, they knew, with Claudine and Gigi, Animal Farm — shelved for the grown-ups alone. Still a birthday away.

They went to the library on the bus — fidgetted over William the Bad, Alice and Peter Pan. Went to the library on Friday, longed for Lolita, The Naked Lunch, Cheri.

Schooldays done, one of them took a library job. Knew all the rickety men — men grown old in dusty rooms, who’d carpet slipper across the quad, over the out-of-bounds, damp-with-dew lawns — bound for their legacy of the Wren, its shady colonnade. There behind hefty doors, the girl who had to wait — issuing books to students, mending a fragile page.

She lunched on white sliced bread, a hard-boiled egg, the girl who asked venerable Fellows: Are you a Member of the College?

© Jenny Hockey

 

 

A few trees back

from the edge of the bridlepath, there
and then not there, a startle of deer
or maybe a very late owl,
its patterning almost erased —

blue, like cigarette smoke,
legs just as long
or maybe longer still,
that slightly awkward gait.

Could this be where he went
with only his teeming thoughts,
a mountain goat mind
leaping from Geertz to Bourdieu,

the rest of us panting up screes,
him bounding on

as soon as we got the point,
him flying faster

but maybe wanting to stay.

We caught his drift in the end,
we thought — but he’d already left,

stepping between
the moss-wrapped trunks,
into the crunch
of another year’s leaves.

i.m. David H.M. Brooks

© Jenny Hockey

Not Working From Home

The corridor, yes I remember
how it wandered up and down,
the unexpected steps, a twist

and turn of corners. The light,
for sure, a yellow soup —
doors opening, some left ajar.

If I said I joined two women
for lunch, that be overstating
the nothing that took place,

the interest I tried to display
as they shared significant news —
and as for the food

it was hardly touched
when a hair-net woman came by,
squeezed out her cloth on my plate

where a dumpling had recently been —
a slip-up so trifling that nobody spoke
and the rest of my day I forget

except that the three of us
took the same bus after work.
Did I pretend a home near theirs?

Sheep, cattle, mountains appeared
at the edge of my sight.
How far we were going,

I knew I could not ask.

 

© Jenny Hockey

 

 

Manningtree

Anyone’s guess how far we’ll go
but sunshine again is enough
on the Edme Malt Extraction Works,
our talk a ribbon spooling out.

Here’s the river now, low tide
and the empty anchored boats
showing off their curves,
the brown of a sand bar, the sea —

Denmark sending its ripples across
and all the land I come from,
flat and drenched with salt,
nudging up to the other side.

© Jenny Hockey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the monkey mind

‘nothing memorable is accomplished’
Henry Thoreau

night’s still heaped outside, so much
it’s spilling into the room. Who would kneel
watching their breath in the dark?  Night
suits me fine, here feeling the body’s weight,
silence — birds’ beginnings,
the heating’s click. An obstinate purring of planes,
that hiss in my ears, fine as silvered steel

the whole body in stillness

up on my desk, what you might call
creative mess,
a burrowing into words — waiting for sound. A rhyme?

cool breath in, warm breath out
sahasrara, ajna, vishuddha, anahata, manipura. svadhisthana muladhara 

Long Clawson Blue in the fridge,
a calendar with twelve similar drawings of Spanish balconies.
Unseasonal

the whole body in stillness

remember the rolled-up skirt in my bag,
the boots that fell in the road. Ice and freezing fog. Tarmac slamming my head.
What is the condition of my brain
currently?  What is the status
of my digestive system?  A short time left.
Now is

the whole body in stillness

ice on the sheds, frost on the cars. If I go out,
will I fall off my bike?

the whole body in stillness

breath, heart beat — comes under the heading of chemistry.
Bandit chemicals swinging their legs
scissor-wise over the sill. Forget the day I planned

the whole body in stillness

anyone know who I am? Maeve explained the age it takes
until what you think is what you say.
I’ve never believed a word I’ve said

the whole body in stillness

the Parkway’s never the road to take. I lost myself
and my dear, dear Jess, singing Happy Birthday,
never found the party

the whole body in stillness

when I bend my finger at the joint, it hurts.
Arthritis.  It’s a must have

the whole body in stillness

a noise of talk silences what’s said
is that the time?

© Jenny Hockey

 

 

 

Breakthrough
We start with the river on our right, a bridlepath
bending ahead — the quarrel on the bridge
we put aside, along with the argument over the egg
I boiled too long, the waiting while you went back

for your smokes — and again for your keys,
our night on the narrow bed, the pillows chafing
our ears, the slippery duvet more than once
on the floor, the drumming of rain on the roof

and us with miles to walk today, possible thunder
and floods. We start with the river on our right,
a bridlepath bending ahead, the valley all but lost
to fog — lifting as June breaks through.

 

© Jenny Hockey