Janine Baker

The Local Can Lady

Hunched and bagged

but light of foot,

soft-shoeing around bins,

seeking tin prizes that none of us want.

Deft hands,

lowered gaze,

An eagle eye for aluminium.

I see by her eyes

the world on her shoulders –

metallic and flattened.

She claims more quarry:

CRUNCH underfoot

tossed in the sack

then off to the melters.

The cycle starts again.

(from Fluorescent Voices, FSP 21)



Lichen at the Station

circles of crusty lichen

spatter the platform

flat and dull, these rusty coins

cling fast to life on asphalt

circles of pale grey lichen

withstand a thousand steps a day

kicked by sneakers

stuck by stilettos

quietly smothered by thick tan loafers

circles of shrivelled lichen

surrounded by tickets and spent chewing gum

hiding their life

they face the sun

draw air and rain

and grow on, in defiance

(from Rewired, FSP 32 and Circus Earth, New Poets 13)



Quarry Land, Leased ‘til 2020

In 1860

these green and teeming hills

lay dense with wood and herb,

with fur and scale and feather,

aswarm with a million insects,

timber stood proud and dammed the banks

of liquid crystal streams

In 1960

these brown and leaching hills

lay clothed with bones and weeds –

thistles from Britain, olives from Greece,

Cape daisies crawl from quarry slag-heaps,

birds cancelled flight and soupy creeks stank

under scums of blue-green algae.

Towards 2020…

these heat-hoven ancient hills

lie silent, resolute,

boxthorn skeletons creak in the breeze

but the natural course will not be undone –

here spins a leaf-green spider;

blooms a clump of candle flower;

winks a brown snake, at the new century’s sun.

(from Rewired, FSP 32 and Circus Earth, New Poets 13)