States of Poetry ACT Poems
Life, like climbing, is best
accomplished if you don't look
down. Pressed up against the rock,
rock-face to face, one is safest.
Hands like to be busy, little nest-
builders, hunting for hand-
holds in the crevices and creases,
they work best in the dark,
by feel; creatures of tactility.
Feet too, like to work unhindered
by the he ...
And the people became afraid.
a dwarf in a petrified forest,
watching them dance the ancient dance —
We would sit on the wings of his knees
and see-saw our way through stories
No one is going to come and save you.
And because of this you must fold
your clothes at day's end
despite the urge to abandon them
to the backs of chairs. You must shake
the crumple of sleep from the sheet.
You must clean your teeth. Wash the teaspoons.
Fold your pyjamas too and lay the neat squares
to rest under your pillow of a morning
For the soft-handled horse-mane hair
of the half moon brush
The gleam of pewter, copper, glass.
For the carpet palimpsest of patterned lives
that lie layered in the deep pile – embedded
wine, coffee, blood, bread, skin, and ash.
For the possibility of preserving presence
and particularity in a photograph.
For the quiet reliability of maps that ...
Timing and manner my mum would always say
and it's true, the how and when override the what
of what's said, and the same is true of poetry.
I don't think people remember their tone when speaking –
other people's yes, but not their own. Tone, like texture, is crucial
for the feel of things – is it honey or cactus, metal or water?
And if the words ...
Your kind friend sent a condolence card
and in the envelope a small white feather
which, she said, seemed to come from nowhere.
Angel's wings obviously, I wrote in my reply.
And for days after everywhere I went
I found small replicas, as if some tiny
feathered thing had scattered its moulting
on urban pavements, in shops and unlikely
bathrooms, a ...
Some months after the funeral,
checking emails from the other hemisphere,
there's one from Pauline; subject: Hell.
It's not promising. My mind traverses
the last five years, their litany of loss –
a son, two friends and mentors,
then you, lovely sister, and like some grim
comedic postscript even Frankie
the cat succumbed. Suffice to say
my mum, being this, terribly emotional, also some part, egalitarian,
'I give him six months, then he won't be, any longer. and she
who is afraid of the mobile
under clock water when the print reverses, St Pancras, the Hardy
Tree necked in hours, of roots, of entry, oublié, headstones
addition, s'il vous plait ...
'privately' inside the body but much of this is the extra-somatic (GAWW - not symptomatic but coral. 'the 20th century's premier art mode', though at that point only as an infusion, ubiquitous but still failing to assume the forms which will 'replace' life as a whole.)