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In Broad Daylight

October 19, 2007 Comments off

It was the dream where the neighbours came round to say
They had a badger in the garden —
Dreadful and endless opening of doors
As the dogs slipped their leads —

But a banal reconfiguration
Of an incident that actually happened:
The sudden darkness of the skies
Above a country where powers are abroad

And real to my quickening heart.
It was not a “sighting.” It was the air thickening,
A power narrowing its eyes.

by Tony Williams

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Cosmic Clocks

October 18, 2007 1 comment
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What Begins

October 17, 2007 5 comments

To catch a fish, breathe in the firmament,
Consider finality before you begin
Threading fly on thin filament.
Then find a seam where life slides
From one slippery dream to the next and cast
Lightly, with the current, never splash.

Inch your line out in a silvery arc,
Sinuous as love doubling back on itself,
And lay it fine on the shimmering drift
Where it listens for the swift nip of a question — a mere
Twitch between fingers — you must answer.

No time for doubt, pull steadily, pull,
Pull, keeping tension constant — spattering drops,
Splitting wave, breaking light, the slap
Of sudden weight on the gritty shore,
Where you must heft a rough stone
Without hesitation in one well-placed, final thud.

*

Eating a fish is not like catching a fish.
This is the brutal grace of hunger.
This is getting close to the bone, into the teeth.

With the fine blade of your knife, slit the
Silken underbelly straight
From anus to jaw and, as the scent
Pricks your nostrils, slide your finger in
Below the spine and strip the body’s cavity empty
Of its soft parts, washing it clean of blood.

Now, you may choose to fill a pan with
Butter and garlic, or clean bark
From a lean, green stick and thread the body
Onto its narrow bier to roast over coals.
But wait for the tail to curl and the flesh to sing
Before your teeth sink in, before swallowing what begins to be you.

by MB Whitaker

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Cabbage Water

October 16, 2007 Comments off

Dry earth spits dust, puffballs release spores,
tiny brown smokes. I remember hearing
the first welcome rattle on cabbages,
how the waxy leaves grew globes
of magnifying water, each with a dazzle
just above the lower margin. I looked
for the sunsource, found it in a patch
of brighter sky.

Hated the childhood flavour, love it now
with butter, pepper, caraway,
allied to lamb and potatoes, and later
a double-glazed lie-down,
a watery recollection.

by Colin Will

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A Sense Of Survival

October 15, 2007 1 comment

Was he still surprised by soft sheets, the accident
of waking every morning? Was it unexamined
or without words, confronted every day?
I see now, there was a silent place,
where he knew as he signed a letter,
contract or cheque, his name wasn’t carved
in grey granite; when steel had splintered,
it had wedged in elbow and legs, not the brain.
Was it sweet, or did he taste the acid? We were kept
well out of it — hedged around with easy talk
of comradeship, courage, careless hatred.
So we threw it back at him, condescending
to supposed indifference, scornful
of his lack of curiosity. But we were
wrong; and now that place is impossible
to find. Only understand it must have been there:
and it was sore, whatever else it might have been.

by Ray Templeton

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Footprints in the Sand

October 12, 2007 5 comments
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Known Them

October 10, 2007 6 comments

Known a fair number of them. Heard the first
squeak of them from inside a box or cage.
Watched them dart, look puzzled, scamper, wage
war on shoe-laces, yowling fit to burst,
mumbling of hunger, restlessness and thirst.

Known them draw blood from a fingertip. Known
them attack a flick of hair. Known them leap
off unpredictable ledges and fall asleep
on a doorstep as if it were a throne.
Known them like company but walk alone.

Known those eyes that search yours then grow bored
and turn into themselves, the world gone flat
as sadness. Known them fixed on the faint pat-
ter of rain or the spinning of an old record,
or shirt-sleeves dangling from the ironing board.

Known them asleep for hours. Known the grace
of their long backs arching. Known their mad
devil-possessed scramblings, their jihad
on anything that moves from place to place.
Known set expressions flit across one’s face

as if they were ghosts of thoughts or faint beams
of perception. Known them stretch out and purr
at the slightest touch of brush on tangled fur.
Known them hunched, lost in enormous daydreams
of killing and sexual capers. Watched their schemes

of world domination come a cropper when
distracted by a paper clip on the floor.
Watched them in two minds at an open door
unable to commit. Saw them expect ten
lives, not nine. Saw them hiss and sharpen

their claws on furniture so far pristine.
Saw right into their souls, or what I thought
were souls. Saw the dead things they brought
into the house. Saw them fat and thin,
and saw them end soon after they begin.

Have shared rooms with them. Fed them. Played a while
with the young ones. Have yet to see one cry
though sickening to death. Have seen them die
in old age. Have seen them crocked, immobile,
wounded, run down, left in a bloody pile.

Have known the names to which they gave no heed,
the names of spaces in the human mind.
Have known them hanker after their own kind.
Have known their stomachs blown out from pure greed.
Have known the loss of them. Their mirrored need.

by George Szirtes

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Night Rain

October 8, 2007 2 comments

I sleep with the quarterlight
half open, tipped
like a questing lip
into the dark.

Night rain is falling
and the talk
is all of transformation:
black on black in threads

and swatches, gravity diamonds
heading south down window
panes; the air itself
partitioned into beads

and space. Fluctuation, shift —
this parcel of earth self-
ministers, self-heals. And I
bear witness whilst below

my body ticks backwards
like a novelty clock —
new times, new intervals,
deep secret bells and

slipping gears. Yes,
just outside, a skin
and filament away,
the heft of falling rain

in space, against
the leaves and on
the running earth
is like breathing.

by Dick Jones

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Lucy’s Light

October 5, 2007 2 comments

The rain is slipping them out of their ceremonies
to begin winter, her father walking the garden
threatening to cut down the bare plum
and pear, and her mother running
after, pleading that the trees
will fruit in summer,
her mother’s hurta
eaten together while they ask
the longest moon to scatter silver in
their hair at an angle so narrow that each
sees the bits of blackened iron stuck in grass
at their feet as cloves in the shining flesh of apple.

by Claire Crowther

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A Great Sufficiency

October 3, 2007 7 comments

reines-claudes3.jpg
Photo by Lucy Kempton

the livid plum
has inspired

ascension to heaven
in love songs to Shiva

apologia that isn’t
for pleasures indulged

sexual metaphor
the world over

in poems and
brush paintings

made quick
and fierce

against tree trunks
the way it can be

sometimes
sweet

the way
bark prints

are left between
shoulder-blades

and legs sore
the next day

isn’t it
and the drip

the stickiness
of all of it

the decadence
of wet flesh

it’s true,
halve one

and you will know
all there is

to know
about women

place one whole
in your mouth

something learned
about men too

but turn wholly
with attention

to plum shape
flesh, texture

taste, swallow
with attention

and you will know
all there is

to know about
miracles of light

wrought in
stripped earth

and also about
the heart organ

how easily
bruised

how persuasively
flooded

how articulate
and subtle

fragile
regenerative

so soft
a ripeness

on attentive
tongue

by Jessamyn Smyth

Direct link to the mp3.

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