Another poem from Alasdair Paterson’s Brumaire and Later – see ‘Watercress’ and ‘Goose’ below for the context. Paterson’s writing in this pamphlet – for all the anguish of its subject, and often ripe-to-rotten richness of its imagery – has such clarity, like cool mountain water held in a wooden tub.


The first of the month,
the day named Apple,
pigs were fattening
as usual on the windfalls,
the sauce was thickening nicely,
when fog came down like white mourning,
like a mountebank’s trick hankie.

Then it was a morning
to spin you around;
so by the time you looked again
how strange and sharp
the landscape’s edges had turned,
how many stumbled into them.

But for others it was sweet,
sweeter than orchards to bite
into our time, our element at last.
To hear like a new-delivered pulse
the calendar’s muffled drum.
To walk sure-footed in the dim russet.
To unwrap the weapons.


[Read in Brumaire and Later, published by Flarestack Poets.]


the mountains are hazy with timeless passivity
sprawling monotonously in the left-hand corner
while clouds diffuse and fill the entire top half
before bumping daintily into a bright red parakeet
perched suicide-like on a beautiful gnarled branch
arched by the weight of fruit and one ripe peach
hung a motionless inch from the gaping beak

here is transient beauty
caught in permanence
but of what avail is such perpentual unattainment?

i know the stupid bird can never eat the stupid peach


Like Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, but got out of bed the wrong side…

[Read in The Space of City Trees, published by Skoob. Ripped from intertwingled.]

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]

Heat, by H. D.

4 February 2012

One of the intentions of my resolution is to discover work that I wouldn’t otherwise have read, often by poets I am new to. Whilst I will enjoy enjoy immersing myself in particular voices as I work through volumes, I’m also looking to pick up recommendations, go and taste some new things, which the internet makes very easy indeed. This week a friend recommended that I look at some work by H. D., who, on my initial reading, seems like she would always have got her five a day.

Today is a cold day, and a still one, and while the conditions described below feel distant indeed, the strength of the voice that is necessary to berate the stifling air has something in common with today’s incisive cold.


O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air–
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat–
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

[Ripped from]