Peter Boughton

Pathologies & Skylarks

Peter Boughton

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(myocardial fibrosis)

A redundant valve:

Fibroblasts proliferate-

All combine and clot

Like gossamer, cuckoo spit,

Fog in a thickening air.


(generalised cancer)

A single rogue cell

Metastasized from the lymph

To North, South, East, West;

Burnished wheat fields, green meadows,

Lucent glare of oil-seed rape.


(senile amyloidosis)

Amyloid moraines

Swiss-cheese the neural, renal,

Hepatic and heart.

Even the gritstone fractures,

Flakes and falls into gullies.



Rickettsia burst

And bloom dust-clouds, cells implode;

Purpuras blossom.

Air-blown dandelion seeds,

catkins and pussy willow.



Mild cephalgia,

Then swelling, vomiting and

Haemorrhagic rash.

After the rain-fall: the river.

After the river: the flood.



Alveolar walls

Weaken, collapse and rupture,

Bullae swell in space.

In the lee of the churchyard

Lichens congregate and spore.


(fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva)

Cells die, but leave bone

Ghosts; the soft flesh becomes its

Own ossuary.

Within the music box: hair-

Grips, bangles, a tight-coiled spring.



From the infected gut,

Hermaphrodite parasites

Migrate to the brain.

From the junction, to the slip-

road, motorways fume and roar.



Hypertension, low

Platelet count, edema

Of the lungs and death.

Hail falls on the blossom-strewn

Lawn, falls like flowers, like ice.


(parkinson's disease)

Abnormal proteins

Cluster like moths around the

Basal ganglia.

The Blackbird blue-notes and trills

At dusk. The Great Tit twitches.



Radio silence.

A sardonic smile signals.

Radio silence.

Behind the rusted Nissen

Hut, a colt kicks, bucks, spasms.



Increased hunger, thirst,

Blindness, nephropathy and

Rashes. Piss futures.

The ewes fatten in the fields,

Grass, grass, grass, grass, grass, grass, grass…



The immune system

Excoriates cells, tissue,

The whole damn freak-show.

Low-lying fen land in flood;

Borders well beneath water.


(cheyne-stokes respiration)

The breathing ceases

Then reappears, fast and panicked,

Then slows, slows, again.

In the dusk sky, cornflower

Deepens to ultramarine.



Lesions in the dorsal

Nerves culminate in silly

Walks, blindness and death.

In the sick swell of the bay,

Grey waves mate, spurting spindrift.


The skylarks in the long crop

Fizz their static song

Across diffuse space. 

There is no map, no compass,

No centre, no circumference.

As a child, my father made

Me map the stars, track

The slow locus of the clock

Drawn heavens, as if in hours

Our lot falls within compass.

In age, I find my mind

Grows more diffuse. I purl

The blossom from the furze,

Each yellow star-bright furled

Within the general.

A prayer out to the unmapped

Dead, out there in their

Long home: I have no names

For starlight falling, out beyond

Hours, but still I hear its song.

Peter Boughton

Peter Boughton is currently working as a Teacher in the East Midlands and he had some work published in anthologies (‘Five’, with Matthew Clegg, Chris Jones and others) in the 1990s.