Neighbours: Newgate’s knocker


The knocker of Newgate prison was swathed in crepe on execution days.

‘Black as Newgate’s knocker’
my father said, banging
a last nail into the coffin of black.

He meant our neighbours.
They all came out, shades
of cinnamon, nutmeg, ebony,

to place strategic dustbins
in the street so funeral cars
could dock.

Cough-drop dark, shiny lozenges,
the limos swallowed us, our hats,
our crêpe, our stilted flowers.

How come he loved the dung-fed soil,
the bloom of berries, the bird
that stalked his spade

but never called them black?
The khaki man in the paper-shop
smiled, moist eyed ‘…always a word…

a gent, he was…’ Are 50 Shades of Grey
enough to chart the contradictions
of the human heart?

neighbours theme3

Kate Foley

Arachne Press has just published my latest book, The Don’t Touch Garden, to be followed by a Selected and New from Shoestring Press next year. I live between Amsterdam and Suffolk and love to work collaboratively with artists in other media.