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At the time, W.W. Robson, another Oxford hotshot, remarked, “You can say one thing
for Amis and Wain, they do have a sense of humor—except for Wain, and Amis.”

Leider I love
stuff to be true;
Poetry does
probably too.



The dark, thirty-five thousand feet of air
Two hundred and twenty-eight in terror

Whether it pitched down like a bird of prey
Whether any were conscious then to pray

If in the cold of altitude the fuselage broke up
If it dove intact for miles till the sea tore it up –

I know none of this – knew none (I was asleep
Four thousand miles distant in the double bed I keep):

Not whether or how they anticipated death
Through the steep dark – but this far I have faith

That there are other minds I know
And know nothing of them in the terror they knew

Homage in Irish Rhyme

Stars turning up all the time in poetry.
The literality is all there somewhere.
One can’t just write, smack and go on.

She is a mess you make and she
Demands rationalisation.
Write theology of her but ignore the stars

Turning out all the time in poetry.
The literality is all here somewhere.
I couldn’t do a smack just at Empson.


There’s no one there.
This you say and he
objects. You had
there someone, just before.
I thought I saw.
Thought I saw that someone
there; there’s no one there.
Though I see him still.
I close my eyes and see him, still
still there. Is this the quest?
Speech is there yet speech is here.
Speech is where I see him still. Say,
some no one there.
What speech is ours but hers and this?
Who says
That I am this and I am this.


Why say, why write?
in suffering’s grip
or wake, why speak

if you are moral?
Híll says. Because, like gravitation,
it’s there.

Because we did it.
etwas wird wahr
is said as it’s seen.

Against, perhaps, the mouthings—
not memory’s riches—of a video
nasty’s replenished cast:

although ignored, for landscape
not portrait footage; sung stills
of a riven, empty tortoisehouse.

So he, pink as a scandal,
is gall’s parson
chaparralled on the brink of laughter.


In a day destroy a star;
Take the epigram’s whip
Now to tan in solitude’s fire

Out of orphaned rays. No fiercer buzzard
Has led the sorting hour
Than this we might have called a bustard.

Now to tan in solitude’s fire
A chilly lark regrets
The larch’s light vendetta.


Given it’s beginners’ love
Sad to cherish ghosts;
Online we gas like hosts.

In a year correct a slump.
(The year the slump, and slump
Correction.) Don’t repair a heart

So it may bear, in months, the less
Gainful, gainfully-borne, tetanus
Of love. In even art.


In a year erect at last
A kaftan heart –
Ventricles windsocks, valves aghast.

In a year bereft of crisps
Grow wide as Cartman –
Komodo neck, thighs that lisp.

Or in a night garrotte a Rhine.
‘It’s obvious’ the river lies
Underneath, ‘underneath’.


Plainjane lens as barrel squat,
The skywritingwritten plot
Of loss was not picked up.

In a while in memory
Feign mythologian.
Now, with it becoming me,

In flickered truth, to curse our bond
Mist falling under the lights.

Till Cloture, Iambs

kinglike prosaicity and the heart mess.
famogroan; on the
heartling clamp toward the knelling
and say stop, also please
stop here is Panguitch.

hamadryad in the tire sensor, should
this have coherency
fire arrect Chávez, heartened Venezuela.
dankheart laster may, could flood a Vegas
sky with sergeantry of England’s wash;
(nor escape measure
dogging keymen since the conflagration).

blister lights and sumpheart shades
rash the desert where a scree has lain, shrubs grown.
roadside card-suppliers,
Hispanic all, group about their foisting hands, their provender,
as fountains go like bombs
empire's toys.
the confectioneried writhe mouth, weight, through sinkalongs.

down Utah rock the set ran pinkly.
the Utah light is sandstone, hoodoopeach,
the smokeless heart is loinpink.

plus of a still monoblue
notwithstanding) the bushspread unvanish dimness of stars
as complexity bespeaks
millennia, bespeaking distance.

towngrid. through blinds
pickuplights make zebrahide of plaster.
kinkheart’s out to suss
a newish highschool, no Pleshey this,
sangloter rankling on the whiteboard
and a silent class.
soft-asserted flushout and the carnaging looks.

conjuregate? err…
sample this.

Huntington they plash along,
seasalt stars the flag, the Sangreal
leaks to tide
shoreline after perfect shore.
this country and its taxipachyderm waltz, some glamheart
using cunt like small change.
in the race of ganky foam, nothing’s lost,
it goes.
(there’s Getty’s sinking cloak!
trawled and trawled over.)
square in Camp Rubric
reality may be Foleyed, the sunset cambric,
reason’s prospect
damning like a chestpain –
perhaps this salad comes with garnicht,
the cost of any grail.
or to conclude with a verseclap
so cavernous as to swell the bishopric through
perhaps it is the culture's talent for scale, so the tough
as a bullet, starstripy cross –
America’s harness – draggingly weighs.

if that is the future linkheart
would I could part with it.

‘I have heard a genius disavow genius’

I have heard a genius disavow genius;
Heard love scorn love.
I have felt an emperor’s disavowed empire
Colonise fog.

I have known a genius misapply genius
On global scale.


Tinsel coal revokes the fire
Settling. Ornaments forsake
The mantelpiece’s cluttered gum,
As cats remake
The shagpile’s level shire.
Without the voice the house sustains a rhythm.

Yet in the sprocket chair
He’d made from totalled roof – and slate –
She decays, and vermin come.
With scrabbling rats her legs gyrate,
Look alive again. As prokaryotes respire
In carcasses of cats, I relax in waves and sun.


in the blue court of doves
its wingbeat and fear
can a camphone go near
the dove’s dovest moves?

for a phonepic that’s clear
of hands’ posing shoves
is a song sung of doves
without love, as here.

Columbia, SC

Words of resolution, and hesitant
Words, and wary, air a wordless portent.

Tripling off design and walls, noise’s
Content discontent, his strength is voices –

Our attention. So complain complainers:
There’s a lovely silence to his answers.

‘Hope’ is policy; yet impolitely
Ductile, like a sublet mirror’s copy

Of light’s talk, saying, in print-buttered glass
What pauses speech. It confuses us.


THE FLATNESS of neon fills a place
Bubuling. A condom
film of Heinz, old spills, adhering.
My hand. Radio
avers the gamut—shooting; carbomb
to captive bears. So: why am I here?
Flyers rob the window of its point (which is not
to say a sad thing)
. What hearty beef!
I am here to eat. The tillgirl’s
make-up only greys her acne out. I still would.

THE LOSS of things is central;
what one discards is to change integral.
No strategies fox choice.
I am here to feed, to rethink my values,
and at your step to sell moroseness, very pushy.
The happy simple residue
of life back golden when is lean
and succulent mince, floury discs of bun, chill relish.
My hand can grasp the beef of hope.
Never this, this, I think, I swallow.

‘There are ways’

vows so made are like lights on snow-ploughs,
purpose and power at once. —Hill

There are ways and there are ways.
(Enlighten me, Captain.)
I could strap this brace around your ankle
hang you, wet this cloth.
I could lace your mouth, by poison, with treason.
Set electric charges through
your prostate and urethra; put winter in
your bones, then boil the air
in a sunless room where the light is always on. /lights are
I could wreck your sleep.
Next door (you awake), I could rape a woman,
get a girl to yell—
alone, unslept so long you couldn’t know.
The horror of capture
is you’re knowledgeless, can’t guess the future;
present; past.
You hate me. You cannot do without me here.


Lock us all in.
Turn us away.
Ice the library steps
so that we slip.

Never unzip
the heftiest case.
Leave it.
Spell out what you say;

say nothing to us.
That which you communicate
must evince cold economy.
Do not react whatever you see.

For what you do and say –
locking, turning, icing –
it stops: your throat to spay
you hide your eyes. There is one thing

you haven’t stopped, being weak.
Unbidden through the city park
they walk who cannot speak
so kiss their knowledge, in dark.

Spill more blood
than roses provide;
when the flowers have lost their heads
make of their stems a children’s bed.

Nothing sleeps there.
Whoever could have listened
years ago you dismayed:
you are pointless in prayer.

Think of the many you flayed.
Think of the storeys lost in blood
of women. Think of the lesson
if any you'll draw.

The dead, what are they but mud?
Just trample. Go ahead –
if that is how you led
millions to tortured death, suitably

it is unromantic; gratifyingly
simple, unlike a novel.
Except there is this plague.
People were a plague;

you stopped that. We are not like people.
Try unthinking us: we’ll stay. Go on
Turn us away.
Lock us all in.

[The Holiday August]

What lilting follower
observes us?
He walks our pace
miles behind,
telling the gestures of our love
by snapped twigs.

'O the light crawls'

O the light crawls
in solid pall
slug-slow back to its hutch.
The skin shines
bristling brine
yet the cold swim didn’t wash much.
You are lost you are lost
you are lost to me

O the breathless field
in wind that healed
croaked, Was it worth what I paid?
Subsiding wires
in gales in choirs
sang, Was it worth what I paid what I paid?
You are lost you are lost
you are lost

The misfiring soldier
in rain and in river
tripped on the corpse of his friend;
coughing on water,
groggy, he thought the
river-swell could comprehend
You are lost you are lost
you are lost

So the boy warns
(and lamplight yawns):
that in love he is wishful and useless.
A lapwing at storms,
his message informs
none till for love they are helpless.
The girl now frayed
(worth what I paid?)
in going made sure he knew this:
You are lost you are lost
you are lost to me
You are lost you are lost
you are lost

©ZA 2005–11