Category: Poetry

Kitchen Landscape

A poem from John’s 2018 book Vallum has been selected for The 3am Project.


On the day of the Winter Solstice: a poem to be read, sung or said for Christmas.

Whilst the words refer to the middle east, the room I had in mind could equally be now, nearby, and familiar to you.


A new poetry title by artist and writer John Elcock is published in January 2018 by The Artel Press.

Vallum is the third collection of poems written by the Liverpool-based artist and features thirty new works compiled over a three year period, exploring birds, landscape and symbolism.

On Garston Sands

Imagine if you will a rather forgotten stretch of the Mersey, on the north bank in winter and with the Welsh hills some way distant. It is very early morning.

In the silence of low tide you hear something that gives full justice to that wonderful, yet often overused word – uncanny. These words were an attempt to give some conception to that fragile landscape, both aural and visual, elicited by an alarm call of the Grey Heron.

This poem features in the new collection of works Vallum, published this month.


Why the Heron shriek?
Out of the ether,
Phantom-like, the voice of the dead
Thrust unheard from the throat of the living.
Lost in the marram,
Fleeing the advancing tide.
Yet heard, for one,
To wonder at the spring
From whence the craw came forth.
The neck, so lithe,
Snake-like for enfolding hands to grasp
And grimly squeeze,
Just as advancing waters grip the sand
To wrench a lurking roar
From this mercuric land.
I hear you, but do not understand.

© 2018 J A Elcock

Reproduced by permission from Vallum, published 2018 by The Artel Press.

Postscript.  Fleetingly also enter this moment, in sound. (Credit: Stuart Fisher)


It is Epiphany, and there is a quiet spot off Calderstones Park in south Liverpool where the faded trees of each Christmas are assembled for recycling. The sight of local residents dragging aged fir trees through the streets is common and draws to mind images of Wenceslas and his servant, familiar from the many beautiful paintings in Christmas cards and songbooks. This poem was written on January 6th 2015 as the trees lay waiting to be collected.