Showing posts from 2020

Collected Poems upcoming in 2021

As the annus horribilis 2020 draws to a close, there is one ray of light at least for me – I just received by email a draft of the cover and first page proofs of my promised Collected Poems from Shearsman Books. A 520pp+ monster! It spans my poetry from around 1975 onwards.  I'm very happy that the cover will feature a photograph by Elaine. So I'm proofreading right now, and there will be more news soon.

COVID-19 diary 30/3/20

DAY TO DAY I see tiny cities made of gold and stellar formations of uncanny provenance, all wrecked in the flood, even at its muddy rim. [pic: Elaine Edwards]

COVID-19 diary 29/3/20

THE NEXT DAY But something is not right. The hum of traffic – that’s what I’m still convinced I remember; from morning till evening it was like the constant swell of the sea – is gone, and a great silence reigns. The world ruffles ever so slightly with every possibility lurking below its serene surface. The press of the floorboards on my bare feet is comfortable, the door handle nestles nicely in my palm, air gently enters and exits my nostrils. I open, I go through. I click the door shut. What is this place? It’s where we are. [pic: Brian Marley]

COVID-19 diary 28/3/20

DAYS GO BY E pointed out to me that just below one of the windows in the house-backs visible from the back of our house someone has over the past week built up a stash of items on the flat roof. A large cardboard box topped by a large tupperware container and a plastic bag. From time to time a man opens the window and extracts items which seem to be food. We speculate that he's self-isolating and has no access to a fridge (those windows face north and are in shadow much of the day). Also visible are a good number of bottles, apparently white wine.

COVID-19 diary 27/3/20

DAY BY DAY I am moving I am sitting up now. I am hither and thither looking. What season is it? Probably spring. The evidence, such as species of flowering plants or the particular activities of birds (they sing, I can hear them), is out there, beyond this place. It’s impossible to sing without a voice-box. To listen without a brain. We are therefore all real beings with real organs – we confirm the existence of each other. We are here but we are also there. In another place that I sense is out there still, but can only imagine. Out there is a promise, I suppose: the imaginary air of an imaginary place that is not this place, waiting for me until I can feel it for myself.

COVID-19 diary 26/3/20

YET ANOTHER DAY A tiny wisp of white cloud drifts across the square of light blue, slowly, right to left. When that has disappeared, there is only blue for a while, interrupted once by the vertical flight of a bird, a dark shape moving too swiftly to reveal its species. Some time later, another cloud appears on the right; as it too drifts across, it seems to tug behind it a larger, glitter-edged one that, as it comes fully into view, causes the smaller one to dim and dissolve into its blue surround. After a further period these clouds, too, drift behind the left of the frame.

COVID-19 diary 25/3/20

ANOTHER DAY Then I’m awake. No, I can’t even say that: “then”. Erase that. Begin again. But I just did. What am I talking about? So then. Light is what I was first aware of, coming in from what I was slow to realise was the window, on the left hand side, flowing onto and outlining the great globe above me. I’d imagined it to be some huge satellite, or was it a mammary to suck on; but it’s only the Japanese paper lantern that hangs from the ceiling above the bed; it’s a bed that I am in, the pale sunlight streaming in on it making a brilliant crescent. It’s white, there’s gold in the picture, there’s blue there too, I’m aware of blue. Pale blue. I remember that lantern from another time. It’s still there! It’s moving ever so slightly, which makes me aware there is a breeze, the window must be ajar. Immense, golden light: like waking in a kind of a palace, or I could be in a cathedral or something, but no, it’s the early sunshine working its way through the slats of the wooden venet

COVID-19 diary 24/3/20

A DAY Then I’m awake. No, I can’t even say that: “then”. Erase that. Because “then” implies there was a before, a before that contained what? well, I can’t remember. I can’t recall a before. But I think there was. If so – if there was a before – it may have included my death, and before even that, my life. Whatever that amounted to. So I’m told. But who told me? Nobody told me anything. There isn’t anybody. Or is there? So why have I convinced myself that I awoke? That I am awake? But I am. And if I awoke, what did I awake from? Darkness has given way, is giving way, slowly and yet surely, to light. And yet? Light is ever so slow in coming, but I think it is, I think on the left hand side. There is differentiation. There is definitely light of some kind, outlining what? Pale sunlight, is it, a brilliant crescent of it? Light, anyway, penetrating the universe, shining here more brightly, there less. It’s white, but there’s gold in it, there’s blue there too, I’m aware of blue, mo

COVID-19 diary 23/3/20

From the top room of our house at the front you get a good view of the Convent gardens. It looks peaceful this morning. The convent itself is no more, but houses the Holy Child Language School: a Catholic establishment teaching English to successive waves of children from abroad. Given my upbringing, this proximity always brings on a chill. Ah, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the most successful and efficient virus yet devised by humankind for humankind. I'm constantly reminded that I'm only in remission, not cured. I think we can suppose that all activity has ceased for the time being. Only a few days ago, some flags were still flying and you could see small groups of boys kicking a football around in the grounds, or apparently collecting wood - for a bonfire? But today there is nobody around. And the processions of kids along our street, bickering and bantering and playing music on their devices have not taken place for a while. I don't know when we shall s

COVID-19 diary 22/3/20

A man makes his way along the front at St Leonards-on-Sea, walking like a sailor, or a bear. Solitary figures walking, or some walking together, trying to shield themselves from the stiff easterly breeze and from the glitter coming in off the sea. Two young men with dark beards and dark glasses, hoods up, one stopping to take a photo of the other with his phone. We walked on the moon. That was a long time ago. An ADHD spaniel breaks free from its owner, darts hither and thither with no apparent purpose. Another small dog sees and approaches it eagerly, but is shunned by the spaniel, which races onto the shingle, then back to the walkway, runs to investigate a scent by the benches, but gives this no time and is away once more. A friend writes: I feel quite euphoric about the whole debacle, and increasingly find I share these feelings with others. So many aspects of consumer capital which I despise have been swept away overnight, and for the foreseeable future; I'm

COVID-19 diary 21/3/20

Pussy willow catkins are out everywhere as E and I go for a lovely walk this morning at Dungeness RSPB bird reserve. The visitors' centre is closed, but the reserve is open to the public, and there are a few other couples, single people and small family groups wandering around - friendly greetings from a distance being the order of the day. Greylag and Brent geese and many ducks are about, but the highlight of the morning is a stoat crossing our path. Only the second time I've seen one, I think.