profile image

Roy Marshall

Updated: Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:04 am

Contact via WOL


I started writing poems 'seriously' in my early thirties. At different times I worked as a delivery driver, gardener and coronary care nurse. My pamphlet 'Gopagilla' was published in 2012 and a full collection 'The Sun Bathers' (Shoestring Press, 2013 ) was short-listed for the Michael Murphy award. I write about writing at


The Horses In the first bright slew of laughter and bedclothes we hear them, and cars slowing to pass, the drifting talk of their riders. They clop through gathering dark as lights come on and the baby kicks and dreams inside you. Hooves break the skin of our sleep, wake us to green shoots or rusted leaves, to shoe prints in early frost, a puddled road and soft scatterings. The boy grows tall and oversleeps as we lie tangled or back to back, while the phone brings news of a slipping away, a collapse into nearly nothing. Blossom is blown to blizzard, blackbirds return to build in clematis. But always, we hear horses; though we never know their barrelled flanks, the sway and tilt of a saddled back, as they trot through the days of promise, arrival, exit. First published in the Ver Open poetry competition anthology 2014 Eclipse Outside ward four, nurses and doctors hold X-rays to the sky. The day turns cold and blue. Bones rise to the surface of film the colour of canal water. A crescent sun lights up fractures: compact, spiral, greenstick, simple and oblique. The moon is a coin in the neck of a femur, a shadow on the skull of a window cleaner who missed a rung. The black ball slips from arthritic fingers and through a doorman’s jaw. First published in Ambit Magazine, 2015 Records on the Bones As kids we would risk imprisonment, pay our last rouble for contraband discs pressed onto X-ray sheets, grooves cut into opaque femurs, hair-lined metatarsals and wrists, furrows on fields of cranium, long since gone to ground. Smuggled under over-coats through the streets was the promise of jazz, sleeved between twilight and heartbeat, carried up back stairs to box rooms where the snare flitted like sun-light through a line of freight; this is how St. Louis and all its saints came to Leningrad, in the bootlegged sound of those who were born as slaves, musicians who drew us along in the wake of all that western decadence. Note. In the USSR in the 1950′s underground presses printed flexi-discs of American Jazz records. The plastic for these copies came from discarded X-ray sheets which would produce a disc with part of the skeleton still visible. From Gopagilla. A version of this poem appears in the The Shop, Autumn/winter 2011.

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.


Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Wk 40
Wk 41
Wk 42
1 event
Wk 43
Wk 44

Hover over an event to see the details. (Open Mic open mic event, WOL Write Out Loud event)

Tuesday 15 October 2013

London »

6.30pm for 7pm at 88 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9RT, GB

Do you want to be featured here? Submit your profile.


John A Silkstone

Sat 31st Mar 2012 19:12

Hi, Roy welcome to the site. I’m an ex nurse and did my training in 1962 when I think we cared more for the patients that is done today. Had many a bad word with a ward nurse when my brother was in hospital. Finished up bringing him home to look after him with my wife, also a retired nurse.

Your sample poem added a little more knowledge to my old brain. Didn’t know about the old X-ray films.

Profile image

Roy Marshall

Sat 31st Mar 2012 15:51

Thank you Ann. One of the benefits of being a middle-aged occasional radio 4 listener is hearing programes which give me ideas like this.

Profile image

Ann Foxglove

Sat 31st Mar 2012 15:38

Hi Roy - welcome to WOL. Good poem - really interested in the explanation too - I didn't know that - what a great idea for a poem!

Profile image

Roy Marshall

Sat 31st Mar 2012 12:25

Thank you for your welcome Greg. Hope to meet up, maybe with Chuck Berry and Carol Ann Duffy in a bar during the Olympics...

Profile image

Greg Freeman

Sat 31st Mar 2012 12:21

Welcome to Write Out Loud, Roy. Good to meet you at the Troubadour - and good to see you here! Greg

View all comments

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message