States of Poetry Poems
In the warm dusk, pink and purple arcs
appear above the old town’s lanes
as jugglers toss their clubs outside
a gallery’s bright, acrylic interior.
Petunias lean from baskets like cheerful spectators
carriage horses wait in plumed rows
for tourists from the ship that dominates the wharfs
below. A couple and their son pause
‘You Never Said It’s A Race, Dad!’
Oh, but it’s a race all right, trust me, kid, that
hill he almost managed to beat you to the
top of (‘Rubbish!’) challenged him more than you, de-
spite all the picnic
stuff he made you carry in your Batman rucksack.
It’s a race to find all the spare parts, becoming
antiques, puzzling kids in the bike sh ...
As if all the world’s ravel, its bright course
of device were to stream through a pinhole in the side
of a box and emerge into a corridor of Delft tiles
on which tiny figures from childhood or a dream semaphore
at my self-portrait, ghostly pentimento in its dun
vestments, and the servant drying linen in the dunes;
the images unclear, inverted ...
In Place of a Bio
Can we not take all these prizes as given?
The awards, fellowships and accolades
that greeted an awaited first book, the driven
milestones of a talent in spades?
Must everyone describe the same lookouts
from Parnassus’ slopes, Calliope’s redoubts?
When all are gods, let the lame smith stand forth:
just for once, couldn’t th ...
The Poetry Exam
The hall begins to fill. The students sit.
She sets her papers neatly on the desk
and rolls the lines around her mouth, flits
from word to word, moves her lips. The rest
is left to memory. The tests are stacked
for passing out on perfect, icy lines
of tables set in single file, tables packed
away when half-right answers whine
13 November 2015
It is Friday, around five. He is
strolling on the rue Voltaire, flâneur
for the young century. The afternoon is crumbling,
the trees are shutting down for winter,
leaves pirouetting to the street
and cracking like small bones beneath his feet.
All around him, the streetlights are coming on,
Just leave your mark here
I won’t do you no wrong
I’m a man that you can trust
I’m not like the others
I’m a honourable man
Some people say
there’s no honour among thieves
but let me tell you straight
We, guberment men,
sent by the King we steal their land
by one stroke of the mighty pen.
But don’t tell anybody that.