No 10 - January 2000
4 poems from "Paragraphs from a Day-Book"
Thought thrusts up, homely as a hyacinth
wrapped in its bulb like a root-vegetable,
belly, while the green indelible
pattern’s inscribed into the labyrinth.
Lanced into light, it’s air’s inhabitant
with light and air as food and drink..
A hyacinth, tumescent pink
on the low wooden Mexican chest
confronts the wintry dusk
with informed self-interest.
Leaf-spears extravagantly ask
what idea, still gnarled up in a knot
of ganglions, will break through the husk
shaped at last, recognizable as thought
Trace, on a city map, trajectories
of partially forgotten words
along the river’s arteries,
volatile substance of a sentient world.
Mauve heather crowds the window-grill. The light
lingers a little later, with a slight
vernal inflection. In a moon-glazed vase
bloom yellow freesias, like some rainy day’s
brook-bank, in someone else’s memory.
Small whirlpools of perception widen, ring
an infant’s numinous discoveries
of syllables for animals, toys, trees:
a Lab’s thick coat, the dusty birds
in Claremont Park each tardy urban spring,
a stuffed pink leather horse with button eyes.
A question-mark in yellow overalls,
I could read. I was three.
I slept with that pink horse. My one doll’s
name was V.J. She’d been given to me
to celebrate the Victory
over Japan, that is to say, the Bomb
I’d spend my schooldays taking shelter from.
I couldn’t tie my shoes. But Reddy the fox,
Tootle the engine who jumped off the tracks,
spelled me their stories on my mother’s lap
despite weak eyes and poor small-motor skills.
My grandparents were dead: not in pogroms,
not in the camps - of strokes and heart attacks,
merely immigrants, not deportees.
“When you die, does everything just stop?”
The topic was “love,” and I thought about bound feet;
“how writers invent love with words” - somewhere there is
a trove of “lotus-foot” poems. But how do girls complete
a thought without a word for “clitoris”?
-- though there probably is a word meaning “what is cut”,
semantically akin to venom or shit
used when five-year-olds are maimed
with razor blades: that once, it’s named.
We think about the things for which we’ve words;
words tell us what they think of
us, and the paragraph fast-forwards
to a trampled patch of bloody turf
or a kaleidoscope of bright imagination
in which it is possible to focus “love”
without envisaging some mutilation.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The