Aubade on a picture of spontaneous combustion


When my lover returns
to his wife, his suburban apartment, the comfort
of a seasoned bed bearing
his beautiful weight

I say nothing.
I do not not or sigh nor breathe the light
starting to bleed into the room
the colour of saints

being martyred in portraits.
I walk the gallery of his absence, a tourist only
to this surfeit of space,
the erasure of lines

that is his gift to me.
It is enough, I think, to watch over the wide
territory of his need, to guard
the frontiers of desire

with my body and silence.
It is enough. And so I do not stir,
even when the flames bloom
fresh petals

from my unbrushed hair,
pursed eyelids. I disappear
into photographic retreat,
chemical shadow. So

when my lover returns
I am already the ash he wonders at
and brushes gently away
from the hood of his car.


[Read in When the Barbarians Arrive, published by Arc.]


from point of entry to expulsion the process is relentlessDust particles cling to sweat despite the sun just up,
moisture levels within brittle stalks drop
as rapdily as markets are lost or gained, shadow
puppetry of information exchange leading the finest
of mechanical technologies astray, as over the crop

the machine of the twentieth century poises–straining
against dry dock, a Titanic that won’t be sunk in those deepest
spots of abundance, a post-modern Ceres busy at the helm
lest a hidden rock break the fingers clawing in the grain;
this schizophrenic God whose speech is a rustle, a token bristling

like static on the stereo, despite state-of-the-art electronics
and a bathyspherical cabin of glass an plastic sealed
against all intrusion though retaining hawk-like vision and radio
contact with the outside world. On the fringes–at home base,
or by the gate–the workers are ready to launch out, to drain

grain from a bulging bin. The art of harvesting is in the hiding
of the operation. Behind clean lines and sun-deflecting paint
the guts of the machine work furiously; from point of entry
to expulsion the process is relentless–from comb working greedily,
grain spirals up elevators, thrashed in a drum

at tremendous speeds, straw spewed out back by
manic straw-walkers, the kernels falling to sieves below
as fans drive cocky chaff out into the viscous
daylight. The sun at mid-morning rages out of control,
glutted on this excess fuel. Melanomas spread on field workers

as they tarp a load; the driver plunges with precision
back into the crop, setting a perfect line, de-mystifying
this inland sea-an illusion, a mirage that hangs around
just before summer has reached full-blown. City granaries
filling, factories churning, ‘design’ a catchword instigating

plenty–the risks of intensive farming, tomorrow’s worry–
stubble itching, high yields floating like oil on troubled waters,
the Titanic’s myth attracting the districts of the hungry.

[Read in Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems, published by Norton. Available on Kinsella’s own website here. Image ripped from]

Trawlers, by Alfian Sa’at

24 September 2012

Come election time
we would see those vans
crowned with loudspeakers
like wind vanes –

with a supply of their own
hot air. Their mission:
to catapult slogans in four directions
and four official languages.

No child throws stones at it.
And old women chew their curses
like betel leaves, tangy, unspat.
Woe be the motorist

trapped behind the hearse-crawl
of the harbingers of “good years”.
Who says that lightning
never strikes twice at the same spot?

Here it comes again:
not so much a van as a trawler,
casting huge nets, not subtle hooks;
the only way one catches mouthless fish.


It’s local election time here in Brussels. Many posters in windows of shops, cafes, houses, and on the municipal hoardings specially erected for the occasion. No trawlers as yet, though – and no evident sloganeering, so no opportunity to see how things change between Brussels’ two official languages, or its unofficial one to hook the expats. I believe somewhere else in the world people are preparing for an election as well…

[Read in One Fierce Hour by Alfian Sa’at. Ripped from]

Somewhere in Heaven
there is a junkyard
for displaced architecture –

Each retired building
with its foundation upturned,
rusted roots outreaching

Towards a higher sky
like the seared arms
of questioning trees.

[Read in dowhile, published by firstfruits publications.]

In Benidorm there are melons,
Whole donkey-carts full

Of innumerable melons,
Ovals and balls,

Bright green and thumpable
Laced over with stripes

Of turtle-dark green.
Choose an egg-shape, a world-shape,

Bowl one homeward to taste
In the whitehot noon :

Cream-smooth honeydews,
Pink-pulped whoppers,

Bump-rinded cantaloupes
With orange cores.

Each wedge wears a studding
Of blanched seeds or black seeds

To strew like confetti
Under the feet of

This market of melon-eating


The third food-and-drink poem in a row.

The idea of ‘thumpable’ fruit reminds me of an otherwise gentle friend, who strains to contain a neurosis: to punch other people’s birthday cakes. The poem also gives something new to think about the next time I find myself bowling…

[Read in Collected Poems, published by Faber & Faber. Ripped from]

Espresso, by Christopher Reid

15 September 2012


Little cup of melancholy,
inch-deep well of the blackest
concentrate of brown,
it comes to your table without ceremony
and stands there shuddering
back to an inner repose.
Pinch it: it’s still hot.

Soon, its mantle of bubbles
clears, but the eye –
all pupil, lustreless –
remains inscrutable.
Rightly so. This is your daily
communion with nothingness,
the nothingness within things.

Not to be sipped, it’s a slug,
a jolt: one mouthful, then gone,
of comforting tarry harshness.
Which you carry now as a pledge
at the tongue’s dead centre,
and the palate’s, blessed
by both the swallowed moment
and its ghost, its stain.


The picture is the espresso I made before posting this. Rather less crema than Reid’s apparently has, but unsurprising given it came from my stovetop and not a constantly used, highly pressured machine, so be it. This is the first time I’ve reposted a ‘Saturday Poem’ from the Guardian, and by including a photo of my own coffee, we’re starting to verge on food blog territory – much more popular than poetry…

[Read at and ripped from]

The Glutton, by Sylvia Plath

15 September 2012

He, hunger-strung, hard to slake,
So fitted is for my black luck
(With heat such as no man could have
And yet keep kind)
That all merit’s in being meat
Seasoned how he’d most approve;
Blood’s broth,
Filched by his hand,
Choice wassail makes, cooked hot,
Cupped quick to mouth;
Though prime parts cram each rich meal,
He’ll not spare
Nor scant his want until
Sacked larder’s gone bone-bare.


[Read in Collected Poems, published by Faber & Faber. Ripped from]