A poem from Kherbek’s online collection Ephemera.


Delivery was slow,
so you said, vintage
toys from the ebay
void. I’m partial to the idea,

that somewhere, a dalek
disco has opened, a queue
extends up the pavement
of some post-apocalyptic
planet vaguely resembling
1970s earth or Detroit,
present-day. They huddle,
glammed to fuck,
plungers lipsticked, eye-
stalk rouged, before
a burly door man who
looks them over:
“Oy, you,
you’re in.”


Discovered by listening to a BBC Radio 4 documentary by Jarvis Cocker on the album John Betjeman’s Banana Blush. The music by Jim Parker is remarkable, and Betjeman’s rhythm and intonation a joy.


Keep me from Thelma’s sister Pearl!
She puts my senses in a whirl,
Weakens my knees and keeps me waiting
Until my heart stops palpitating.

The debs may turn disdainful backs
On Pearl’s uncouth mechanic slacks,
And outraged see the fire that lies
And smoulders in her long-lashed eyes.

Have the such weather-freckled features,
The smooth sophisticated creatures?
Ah, not to them such limbs belong,
Such animal movements sure and strong.

Such arms to take a man and press
In agricultural caress
His head to hers, and hold him there
Deep buried in her chestnut hair.

God shrive me from this morning lust
For supple farm girls, if you must,
Send the cold daughter of an earl –
But spare me Thelma’s sister Pearl!


In searching for the words to the poem, I found them on a James May fan blog – truly a bizarre corner of the internet I never thought I would visit.

Ask Me, by William Stafford

24 November 2014

Doing my ironing this evening I listened to a BBC Radio 4 documentary on William Stafford, a poet I had never previously heard of. He wrote a poem every day for over 50 years – over 20,000 in total. That’s a resolution that far outstrips the one at the genesis of this blog, to read a poem every day – which while keeping up much longer than its original year, is now also long lapsed.

This is one of his poems, featured in the documentary.


Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

[Ripped from http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/william-stafford/ask-me/]

William Kherbek published a collection this autumn entirely on YouTube, called Ephemera. This is one of the 45 poems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLWeOYWoin4

Frost, and frost yesterday
and last night.

Strong little moon picked at your bones.

The pear on the brink
of unpacking its blossom.

One-bee marquees,
nectar festivities, tents.

One-day-only stalls of druggy sugars,
the beers of flowers.

Everything is dragged awake;
puts on its music clothes.


One of the highlights of Bee Journal. ‘One-bee marquees’, ‘druggy sugars’ – the last three couplets are just brilliant. The country show-feeling, meanwhile, also makes me think of this very different M E Gray Green poem.

[Read in Bee Journal, published by Cape Poetry.]

The road keeps accepting us.


That is the first, and most memorable, line of the poem – because that is exactly what the road on a long journey does. I struggled a bit with the volume this poem is from, PLACE, which won the 2012 Forward Prize: I don’t think I had the time to give it that is needed if one is to enjoy its unfolding images and associations, and my experience of the first few poems in particular was completely out of step with the transformative experience promised in the quotes used in the blurb. And in that blurb itself, this: “a book of poems written in the uneasy lull of a world moving towards an unknowable future.” I’m sure the blurb writer was pretty pleased with that sentence, but the future is never knowable, and the description could apply to any number of poets. However, there is a real treat at the end: the penultimate poem Lapse, readable here. It has a clarity of subject that much of the collection lacks, and real tenderness.

[Read in PLACE, published by Carcanet Press.]

A drop poem

28 August 2013

A link to a ‘drop poem’ in the White Review: ‘To the Woman’ by Adam Seelig. A new form to me, and one that I can see making room for a mixture of simplicity, elegance, and fun. Or, in fact, whatever you can find.