Paul Stephenson


Moving the Hens


Moving the hens doesn’t mean moving the hens it means each moving
together people spacing out picking up corners of a seven-sided fence

raising it up carrying it low while hens are hens and oblivious continue
doing what hens do pecking and stepping stepping and pecking as hens

everyone spacing out well treading carefully listening out for the leader
whose holding the fence lifting it up to the waist and higher following

others and walking in the same direction dragging it low and stopping
hauling it up over cow parsley and starting again so hens at the front

of the pen become hens at the back of the pen the there hens here hens
all moving with you keeping on being hens pecking and hens stepping

with small pecks small steps as if the pen wasn’t moving but was a pen
forever fixed hens not knowing that nothing and no one is fixed despite

the stepping and pecking and the small steps of people moving the hens
when not moving hens and the earth is spinning so fast beneath their feet


Paul Stephenson grew up in Cambridgeshire. He has published three poetry pamphlets, Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016), written while living in France at the time of the 2015 terrorist attacks and Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), which won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition judged by Billy Collins. He took part in the Jerwood/Arvon mentoring scheme and won the inaugural Magma Editors Prize, coming second in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize. He co-curated the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival in 2018 with the Poetry School. He has a blog where he interviews poets.

<< Back to Helena Fornells Nadal on Vahni Capildeo’s Venus as a Bear

Return to Issue 5