Wednesday, 27 April 2011

On Littlehampton Beach

The cuttlefish bone is deceitful. Not quite
like an iceberg and its tip, more like an atom
and its electron. There is a deadly serious
point to all this. I haven’t come down to the beach
just to sharpen my beak. You’re not a Piscean.
I can’t fathom why. My penny jaw dropped
into the fathomless – ridiculous – depths
and was washed stranded up white on the sea
sieve of stone. I am standing on a masoned ledge,
a created thing. An unforged gull carries
a pigeon’s off-white egg (the colour of cooked
albumen – we are prone to discoveries, moments
of discovery) in its beak. I have left behind
the forensic scalpel – the wind here is a soft
sphere (think of The Prisoner). What is all this
about? Your way with words, the truth in them
(I’ve never lived by the sea, so I had to come
and find out): what turned out to be delicate
abstractions and downright lies, like the sea
smelling of sea when it really doesn’t smell
of fucking sea, it smells of coffee beans, if anything,
or petrol fumes, or the station café where I write,
sabotaging a lineless notebook, a poltergeist.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Reviewing Michael Longley's A Hundred Doors

And it felt right somehow,
spending four pounds eighty
on two coffees to give myself
time to finish his new book –

the station filling and emptying
like a milk jug. There are many
shirts, ties, looks – they are
tolerating the violence, the stroppy
endurance of trains. Unsurprised

to find itself indoors
under a dirty roof,
a pigeon cocks its ear
to catch a poem.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Building Forms a Square

((although understandably
inferior to the state
of having two working

ears it is nonetheless
lucky to be a steam duct
on the roof of this
or any other building) but

in line with the nature
of things – that is, objects –
there are always steam ducts

and umbrellas, but um
brellas only come out
when it rains or some

times when it’s sunny
and steam ducts are constant
whether at work or not:

they have this freedom)

the building forms a square
with a courtyard – a quadrangle? –
in its blind and deaf centre (and

it is into this courtyard – quad
rangle? – that the steam ducts
point (something should be said here

about the nature of the steam
ducts (and by nature

I don’t mean nature,
I mean physical appearance,
which in this case is apparently

practically the same): they are curved
and lipped, and yes,
there are three of the
m, they are like trunks,

or truncated
lower-case ‘n’s or upen
ded – deracinated? – paren
theses) and it is into this courtyard

– quadrangle? – that steam would go
if steam went down instead
of up (opposite this building

is the derelict college
which they should knock down
and turn into a public lido

with, dare I say it, a steam room
attached)) (they bear
a resemblance to pigeons also,

the curved neck, though I’m now
not sure if they are steam ducts
or quite what steam ducts are;
they are just grey pipes

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Below Owlpen

A whole goddamn ode of slightly humorous trapezoid oak crowns, a
brown blown on its own song song thrush, up there is no wind there
but oiled and smooth gates swing hugely round and down here. Town-
less hill and also free of showers. Rook-towns. Things quantified
in terms of clumps and patches, patterns are panels edged by hedges
and loud and unloud brooks are the lines that make up grids – land
is a map of a map. An unmown circle and a hole where water climbs up
out of the hill’s sump on its own back, and sap, and no plough. Black-
birds – in the knot and curl where two sides of the valley meet – leave
the fern, the bird becomes the border and the sound snatches, bumps
itself into a song rising into the funny trees, that don’t stare and don’t
hear but have not yet fallen down.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Different Kinds of Happiness

The early part of that evening
was memorable for us laughing
at the description on the box

of the new shoes I bought: semi-
distressed brogues, and for me
just missing that one-four-eight

checkout against the old boy
who got us drunk just to see
us smile, then hammered me

into next week, for fun.