Thursday, 31 March 2011

poem in red ink

the café is
nearly empty.
there is a coffee
machine called Bravilor

Bonamat (which,
let’s face it,
sounds lik

e the name of
a South Ameri
can dictator,

and is with
out a doubt
the closest this place
gets to any

kind of exoticism –
it even feels
wrong writing

the word café
when describin
g it: the Frenchness,
the accent: false

credentials I’m a
fraid – a whole
Bastille of baguettes

can’t change that,
but anyway, back
to the coffee

machine, its
swanlike noise,
the brown
rotundity of its

bowl like the bole
of an ancient
oak, the last

scone that I
wouldn’t dream of ordering
if it were not
the last scone,

all of these
things calculated
to remind me

of my Englishness,
the Englishness

that people see
as being eaten away
at like the wet

weak sandy cliffs
near the Humber
estuary or something,

the Englishness that

is itself do
ing the eating
away, a map
set alight, all

these small polite
triggers that led
to me choosing

a certain pen out
of my collection
of two) and the

re is me, and a
waitress, and the
news channel

on silent, sh
owing the Olympic
flame, somewhere

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Worse in Spring

‘If you woke up every time
an apple

fell from that tree outside
your window it

would be a kind of hell,
a punishment.’

No such luck, I thought
of answering.

Can’t think of the thud
of fruit as

a kind of heartbeat.
It’s not healthy.

Since you moved in (well,

I’ll have to say that:

to this room apples
haven’t stopped

(with the window open
now you hear

the season’s last concert
in the park

bandstand) falling. They’ve been
golden leaves;

no, golden eggs. Spry insects
enter when

a storm thickens: (you can’t
see the park

but you can hear) you’ve
taken to

catching the big green
bush crickets

in an empty mug, sliding
some paper

underneath: (the silver band
plays the theme

from The Simpsons) a gas bill
or a poem.

The crickets click their wings

ingly (the band note perfect).
The apples

rot and sleep on the lawn
and I answer:

‘If that were true it would be
worse in spring.’

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Love Poem of an Arctic Tern

This is my love poem, it is called
The Love Poem of an Arctic Tern,
it’s only a first draft: It’s all boredom, really, I mean
after the first starved intakes
of breath after which the moon
and sun cease to move. It’s a lark. Can’t
find a crèche that stays open. Twice
a year there’s a point where
the line in the 8 crosses itself
and we feel like something might
happen. But it’s a spring-clean. Don’t
fret. The cows’ll come home. Two
rapierists will meet and part. A
headwind will make sure your cut is
clean – a short bob. In the end we’ll
forget the point of arguing about
whether it’s a pepper or a capsicum.
Your menstrual mobius disentangles, and
that’s the end of the poem, really.


The spark of a single wasp and the aura
of dozens: a heaving hypnotic nest. She’s slow
to realise, then slow to move away
but she doesn’t get stung. The park

has announced her. Shifted, it settles.
She rubs her neck and I think of the geese
on the lawn, and gavage. The rowdy geese
pollinate the lawn with feathers. The pond

is lumpless. Her blood drips slowly upwards.
She tells me the name of her disease
and what it means: Japanese for a puff
of smoke, or a wisp, she says, smoking,

but I can’t think of wisps without thinking
of dancing points of light and quickness.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Gliders Above Uley

The dialogue that sound always is
is the tug the here of the orange
plane and its unshot glider behind –
the wind stretched cutting turbine
uprooted and stiff in pallid rocking
skysick sky. Above the health and
punch of sparrows the beery hill and
rooks and the static now flung glider
cut off and. Sky a silence. Often parts
flow: a pool into another and the paper
glider stuck in a dam made by children.
A broken cross, and all that implies:
first and foremost symbol of. (Which
isn’t the same as disquiet) silence. Then
calm, magnanimity, freedom but
the unsilent rough and ruffle of wings
is wind made by speed, and this way
like the flower turbine. Patternless
sky grows millions of fault lines may
be in the eye but are not clouds but
are reflections of earth could be sound.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


(after W. G. Sebald)

On small hills where the rings are broken
and by trees. Un-switched-on lighthouses
demobbed and stiff in black pools where
there is an orbit of moony crabs. Surely
that can’t be light from a boarded-up
hotel. A circle – a perfect maze (and we know
from science that a blindfolded man can’t walk
in a dead straight line.) Sulphuric rain
has destroyed these lips. Trout and elm
also. And blinded statues. Things on stilts
must keep moving. Curlew; houses. Rot is
the only alternative where heatless alchemy
turns everything to gas, and goshawks
are still crucified: a limited alphabet of ‘X’s
and ‘T’s decorating blank spinneys and unstraight
defective groynes.