Last night, Elvis returned
from the far side of the moon
and met me in a small town
where he once performed
I remember hearing it
as a student visiting
Battersea Fun Fair
with my university friends.
I wonder if they recall
laughter as we slid
down the Rotor walls
feeling sick and cold
the music blazing
through the neon dark
and we didn’t want to leave.
Elvis knows all about them,
those friends without names,
His image blurs as he sings,
flickering in the small hours
through a silent film of young faces
before he leaves me to my day.
He tells me he’s used to performing
to an audience of one these days.
Thanks to Keith for stepping in and chairing a great Stanza on Monday night. The theatre and car parks may have been chaotic, filled with excitable Mousetrap-goers, but the Haden Rees room was filled with calm and culture and wonderful poems – well, actually a lot of frivolity too. It was a great idea to have us read our poems and then to have someone else to read them out afterwards, even though we did run over and get caught up with all the excitable Mousetrappers leaving!
Thanks again to Keith and all who took part.
He was a loiterer with time to kill, hanging around town in the wrong doorways, in the wrong clothes, in the wrong skin. If you noticed him you would look away.
One day he went into the library. Nobody spoke to him, hidden between Travel and Foreign Languages. They were too busy squeezing things into the right places, arranging things in a new order, collecting fines for the overdues.
Hidden under a newspaper, on the table, lay a book which nobody noticed (because nobody was looking for it) left open at a page where a man falls twenty feet through an open window to escape.
A holiday romance
“Come into my studio,”
said the artist to the passer-by.
The invitation was actually
a notice pinned to the closed leaf
of an old wooden door:
AT WORK IN HER STUDIO
I spotted it across the stone street.
On the deep shade side of the strict
demarcation line, as opposed
to the blaze of sunlight on the other.
I had to stretch to reach the top
of the steep step. Stepped
gingerly over the high threshold.
Tentatively entered the studio
through the open leaf of the door.
It took a moment for my eyes
to adjust to the interior gloom.
Perhaps some effort is always required
to enter the artist’s world.
Colour then exploded around me.
And composition. A magic eye.
The essence of the island.
Sea, mountains, harbour, boats.
I fell in love. I still bask in its light.
Exotic colour on my living room wall,
every day in the muted tones of home.
Oops. I got so carried away with preparing to go abroad that the prompt slipped backwards.
Going abroad. What exactly does that mean? Stepping out of the front door? Taking a ferry overseas? Emigrating, immigrating? Here are Brian Patten, George Szirtes and Michael Donaghy on the subject:
Brian Patten, Geography Lesson: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/geography-lesson
George Szirtes, Preston North End: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/preston-north-end
Michael Donaghy, Shibboleth: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/shibboleth
The Poetry Archive has many diverse and mind-boggling poems about ‘abroad’ – you can explore more of them here: http://www.poetryarchive.org/explore/browse-poems?f=type%3Apoem&f=field_themes%3A99
explanation – Gill (thank you) lead me to Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Poetry Orchard – pick one of the apples and post your poem – I picked Forest Styre …
a badger digs
and the earth
an ocean of time
into a band of limestone
until a season pulses
into a landscape
into the curved corners
where forests of secrets grow
where spiders knit net curtains
sweet shops open in meadows
buttercups ten for a ha’penny
a jeweller sets up shop in the woods
styres suckle the fingers of giants
in the empty puddles
of cobbled streets
but even man cannot stop the wind
stripping song from hedgerow
in the silence
an army of ants shares out the soil
owls are mapping out the night
to sell to next year’s tourists
a pip Googles the weather
I’m posting this from Lynton in Devon where Penny and I have been walking and writing. We are renting a cottage with a wonderful view over the Bristol Channel to South Wales. This rather strange poem popped into my head, so I thought I’d share it with you.
At the Treatment Centre
I looked round at the men waiting with me.
All were wearing hospital gowns,
the ones with backs that bare your arse.
There was a man with the face of the moon.
Another had mean features and pointy eyes.
A third was small, nervy, at odds with himself.
A fourth man arrived with a shiny head,
muscular with angry tattoos. He grunted
a greeting. We flinched as he sat down.
When my turn came I was put on a trolley
and wheeled into the anaesthetic bay where
I was asked to start counting to ten.
I reached six or seven before finding myself
in a small cafe with three men drinking tea,
muttering among themselves.
One had a moon face and spectacles.
Another a thin face and bullets for eyes.
The other was mouselike and mean looking.
Suddenly a giant of a man barged through
the door. He had no hair and was covered
in tattoos. The three at the table trembled.
The giant began bawling in a foreign tongue,
I looked into his face, his eyes, and realised
they were my father’s eyes, then…
You can wake up now sir. Would you like tea?
We hardly noticed the sea
as we sold ice cream, pots of tea
to the tourists, stuffing pound notes
into our apron pockets.
André, newly arrived from Hungary
slipped into his role as capitalist
in charge of a beach kiosk,
watching us like the KGB.
Occasionally, we thrust our hands
into the depths of the freezer,
mutilated a choc-ice or two
for immediate consumption.
In the evenings, young US airmen
enjoyed the cold war, drank beer,
fondled the local amenities.
We learned a lot.
On the pier, slot machines
chattered like machine guns,
a thousand miles from Budapest.