An apology to Andrew Ford

An apology


An apology to Andrew Ford

 

As things stand, he is the bole of this unsteady tree,

the backmost reaching into the frail chain of records,

through the sporadic diggings of our research, and

 

I picture him taking the days of journey north from Devon,

by the old Roman road, possibly driving one of the carts

or wains he’d made, loaded with what could not be left,

 

bound for a place he’d only heard of, yet believed held

all the answers. This place, that kicked the light out of me

from the moment I could stand. Then every moment after.

 

The one I couldn’t wait to flee. Now the insistent hands of

autumn tear at the leaves, and the bough is close to breaking,

I have no way to tell him what I’ve failed to do, how sorry I am.

 

first published in Forage, 2017

 

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Leningrad, 1990

Leningrad


Leningrad, 1990

 
Even with only seven mutually-intelligible phrases,

we partied on the overnight express north like it was

everybody’s birthday, making a loaf out of crumbs.

Come morning, the train lurched in, to a metropolis with

two heads, neither of them facing in the right direction.

 

Then it rained three days, in bands of withering judgment,

from a sky heavy with itself and a marathon of history.

Ageing boulevards, redundant with missing teeth, became

tributaries. Palaces gleamed, and naked-headed citizens

in zip-up jackets, streamed along Nevsky Prospect wearing

 

identical tennis shoes, unaware that another revolution

was rearing like a rodeo bull, in a future already

out of touch with the present. They would soon be

renaming the city again. Back at our hotel, the lights

flickered. They warned us against drinking the water.

 

 

first published in Clear Poetry, 2017

Cymbalaria mularis

Cymbalaria mularis

Cymbalaria mularis

at Durham Cathedral

 

They built their God a house

to shoulder the heavens,

demanding all of the sky above

the broad loopings of the river,

where it slowly pinched its banks

into a single, swollen drop.

 

Above the waterline, where its

sprawling founds tread the stout,

bread-coloured rock, jewelled

chains of toadflax rope themselves

into ancient niches worked by

the insistent, scouring rains of

 

ten centuries; like hermits

riding out a life of storms from

a lonely Atlantic cell, their

ivy-leaves shrug off the beat

of each droplet, dipping their

solemn heads in prayer.

 

first published in Bindweed Magazine, 2016

Rusted plough at Guirdil, Isle of Rum

JadeTheyPlough

Illustration used by kind permission of Jade They

Rusted plough at Guirdil, Isle of Rum

 

Once it would’ve arrived here, painted and new,

either landed from a friendly sea by boat,

or else shouldered over those rocky tracks by ponies,

and assembled from its pieces into a monster.

 

It must’ve seemed like the work of both

the Devil and the Lord in cahoots, the way it

knifed through the spongy turves, turning green into black,

burying centuries of broken backs in an afternoon.

 

Now it lies ridiculous, against the emptied house,

below the cliffs chopped roughly into silent hillsides.

Only goats feed here now, chewing, box-eyed,

on kelp stranded up and down the shoreline.

first published in Firewords Quarterly, Issue 6, 2016