Poems

Here are some of my poems, all taken from my first full collection, Missel-Child (Carcanet, 2014)

Autumn Child 
for Patrick

Autumn child
you would be born with the leaf-fall
the catch in the air
that tells the year’s turn

tonight, a rag of cloud
blindfolding the face of the moon

am I leaving you
or moving to greet you?

Then is it true

Aber weil Hiersein viel ist, und weil uns scheinbar alles das Hiesige braucht, dieses Schwindende, das seltsam uns angeht… (Rilke, Ninth Elegy)

Then is it true, that you also need us?

Look: here, at this angle of land, where riverbank
becomes coast, here is salt ice lying

in the furrows, and there, where water
exchanges with water a mode

of being, river/ocean/river, there
again is ice, thin-skinned and scarcely

bearing, puzzling rocks; and the cold,
to us, is like a new live thing, that stalks

the hollows of our bones. – Look: I am
giving it to you, this fragment; but how,

in your completeness, could you need it?

 

At Burscough, Lancashire
Lancashire’s Martin Mere was the largest lake in England when it was first drained, to reclaim the land for farming, in 1697

Out on the ghost lake, what’s lost
is everywhere: murmuring in names
on the map, tasted in salt winds
that scour the topsoil, westerlies
that wrenched out oaks and pines, buried now
in choked black ranks, heads towards the east.
Cloudshadows ripple the grasses as the seines
rippled over the mere by night, fishervoices calling
across dark water. Underfoot, the flatlands’
black coffers lie rich with the drowned.

 

Unadopted

When you lift the receiver the story
is already unfolding: quiet
insistent cross-talk of

a party line. Behind the lock-ups
June hangs heavy,
deep sea-green and sour

on the tongue. Wires hum
along the cutting. At the edge
of the permissible you finger-

spell the word: unadopted. Radios
talk of Rhodesia, and at night
the fitful banging of the trap.

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