States of Poetry ACT Poems
Note the passive voice in that last line,
the denial implied. ‘People were shipped out.’
The agent with a conscious brain linked
to a hand with a pen or a gun felt his own grip
all along the neural pathways.
Some noises we can sleep through
but even the softest can be an alarm.
Sailboats in the calmest water are still not ...
The maps that teased my childhood were silent.
The imagination they cosseted
was of no use. Instead of song
there was a flatness, a sheet of pastel shades.
I could find Peru, but not food.
And these maps were my inheritance.
Maps can be owned. Land is something else.
Maps can be stolen. When the atlas claps shut
those who ...
On the Mountain
Here where clouds soothe rocks, high above commerce,
I could catalogue the sharper images
of evil but to what use? City tabloids
and browsers will unroll bandages
enough to wrap communal wounds.
The bardic robe sits ill. The mist suggests
the insubstantiality of wish.
Summon a future like some old romantic,
And it is the act, the will
channeled through fibre to impact;
this is history as king hit.
Imagine your own bedroom as nullius,
adding extra dizziness to any fall.
If pain, as is said, cannot be remembered,
only the having been hurt,
then where does the pain belong
that comes out of the blue ocean
into a v ...
No name or rank supplied
We’re looking down the barrel of
a.303 Lee Enfield,
standard issue through until
the early 1960s.
The others in the firing squad
have all been cropped away, it seems.
He is an officer, we think –
that small, smart cap betrays him.
His hair’s well-trimmed and business-like;
he seems somehow unduly clea ...
‘... the last refuge of a scoundrel’.
But here and there a whisk of it
does no essential harm:
an accidental win or t ...
The honours list has been announced,
recipients are ‘humbled’.
Three jet fighters, adolescent,
fly past proving nothing.
Fireworks later on are promised.
None of this requires
my serious attention.
How many million barbecues?
Our tall ships and our
sixty thousand years
attempt a sort of ba ...
If all we’re told is right
how wearisome He’ll find it;
all those fine gradations,
those mitigating factors.
Psychopaths are easy
but who are we to say?
The virtuous are harder,
their sin of subtle pride,
their svelte self-satisfaction.
The normal are the worst,
one day a fine donation,
next day a little nip ...
Thirty years of dreams are stored
in notebooks, written down on waking.
Her daughter’s kept them all,
imagining her mother moves
among those shimmering and scribbled
layers on a bedside table.
Those narratives live on, she’s sure,
in all their raw hallucinations,
their sudden runs of ecstasy,
their weird humili ...
There should be a name for the special case
in which we say ‘the crowd marvelled’,
if the roar that rose
over the back of the stadium walls
over the rain-shingled streets
conveys the sense that what mattered
on the pitch, or the court, happened
in the eyes that watched it;
that indicates a place has changed