Monday, 28 May 2018

Episcopal Fag Packet

Time is running out for the smoker. There’s no use being a damn fool about it, nobody smokes anymore and between long looks and shorter breath,  I’m resigned to the blessed break, and  I figure to quit on the New year. And there’ll be less wine, and cafĂ© food, the waist line already is shrinking…  On the way out, a reflection from last winter, a puff for the censers. I might change the title.

Episcopal fag packet

Look up from the packet’s spent, necrotic foot –
not exactly lolling on the table – to the spotlight taped
or roped, to a January tree. Consider then:

among addiction’s anti-advertising’s pics of death
and consequence, that over-egg the pudding,
in the last analysis, there is a failure to connect

with the inevitable turning of the seasons,
the turn we all expect. That is, when the tree
returns to green and nests sparrows sheltered

in its branches’ welcome, not the shiny, black, wet,
dripping thing it is today, it’s not disturbed a jot
by the spotlight’s accusations or the days grown short.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

March Arrives

As gay as May, March arrives
            how pale the sun,
how we survive a nuclear age
with global warming’s sudden chill.
            How pale the sky,

starveling snow drifts around,
pin points of silver specks too delicate
and fine to be cheerful as the summer fireflies
heard about in books.
            No sound outside.

            Somewhere a fire burns,
burns the hearthstone hollow.
How we always say that sadness
will supply tomorrow:

            eyeing the sun,
stiffness of your little fingers
& the pricking of your thumbs
yellow as an orange.

This before the snow came thick and fast. A quick steal from Shakespeare and Lermontov at the end there, by the way, good men in a crisis.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Greenwich, January

Without Peter, we peppered his poems across the proceedings.  Rosie emerged from the universal cough to deliver her linked verses a'shine with a devout accuracy, Quentin and I did our bit, spirits were high and books were sold.  Thank you Irena for setting up the event, celebrating the first anniversary of in-words.

It was also very nice Nnorom made it for half time - photo courtesy of SPM - and finally we meet!  The new year is full of promise.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Bright Scarf Poets, Tuesday 16 January, Greenwich

Tuesday January 16 at 7 for 7.30
West Greenwich Library, Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN
Bright Scarf Poets – Quentin Cowdry, Dominic James, Rosie Johnston and Peter Pegnall. 

The poets will sing, the audience will be moved, on that i'll bet my hat, and what a groovy spot.  There will be time to chat and we'll all be booted out precisely at 9.30.  Perfect.
Make it if you can.

More details at in-words.  We hope this is the first of many collaborations to come. This event organised by Irina and Rosie.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The High Window, PS Review

I'm very grateful to Joanna for her review of Pilgrim Station and to the editors of High Window for including the piece in their winter issue. It is a pretty good recommendation. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

CITN December 17

Caught in the Net, December 17, me. These are not augurs of the future, these are the good times!
Poetry Kit CITN 168: it's a comprehensive list.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Voronezh Notebooks

Mandelshtam again,
from book III, translated by Andrew Davis:

I'll sketch this out, I'll say this quietly -
Because its moment is still not evident:
The game of the unconscious sky will be
Accomplished later, with experience...

And beneath the time-soaked sky
Of Purgatory, we frequently forget
That  the blessed storehouse of the heavens
Is our home, limitless and present.

That last phrase may have heaven as "the lifelong house" of our consciousness, in David McDuff's translations. 

It is difficult to get the form from the translations, I'd gather the writing, rich in technique, is peppered with alliteration, thickened by rhymes and assonance, probably with its social reference too, even if Mandelstam never got the tone in trying to atone for his attacks on Stalin. 

All that aside, without Russian we can still enjoy the high points of  his translated verse in their un-apparelled meaning.