An Old Fashioned Traveller on the Trade Routes

I was sitting upstairs in a bus, cursing the waste of time, and pouring my life away on one of those insane journeys across London — while gradually the wavering motion of this precarious glass salon, that flung us about softly like trusses of wheat or Judo Lords, began its medicinal work inside the magnetic landscape of London. …..The bus, with its transparent decks of people, trembled. And was as uniquely cremonious in propelling itself as an eminent Jellyfish with an iron will, by explusions, valves, hisses, steams, and emotional respirations. A militant, elementary, caparisoned Jellyfish, of the feminine sex, systematically eating and drinking the sea. …..I began to feel as battered as though I had been making love all night! My limbs distilled the same intersting wide-awake weariness. We went forward at a swimmer’s pace, gazing through the walls that rocked the weather about like a cloudy drink from a chemit’s shop — with the depth and sting of the Baltic. The air-shocks the sulphur dioxides, the gelatin ignitions! We were all of us parcelled up in mud-coloured clothes, dreaming, while the rich perishable ensemble — as stuffy and excluive as a bag of fish and chips, or as an Eskimo’s bed in a glass dift — cautiously advanced as though on an exercise from a naval college. …..The jogging was consistently idiotic, it induced a feeling of complete security. I gave up my complicated life on the spot; and lay screwed up like an old handkerchief screwed up in a pocket, suspended in time, ready to go to the ends of the earth. O trans-Siberian railways! Balloons! Astronauts. Rosemary Tonks


Mine eyes have seen the glory of….

I have watched you crank the sun up
in the morning, then drop it like a sandbag
that raises the curtain as the house lights fade;
I have seen you churn those waters up, then suck
them back, or stop them with a freezing wind,
monuments to their own motion, standing waves of ice,
polar bears stranded without a radio, seals
knocking their heads against the glass ceiling,
trying to rise. I have seen you eat the scenery
of a forest with a storm; raise a volcano
in a vacant lot, hot lava swallowing
the housing development; dry up the wetlands
just when the long-legged heron was eyeing a fish;
or, on the sunniest day – when the pastoral seems like
a documentary – loose a swarm of locusts
to devour the grain; set species against species,
roll the dice, two stars collide: time’s assassin,
I have grown tired of keeping your accounts,
shaping a story from the chaos of your caprice,
the endless invention of your unconcern; I tire
of the argument, the contention, the attempt
to make a plot out of quicksand and fog,
to rouse the wind when becalmed, to comfort
the dead with a song:
ergo I request reassignment,
a change of vocation, a more reasonable
situation: perhaps as a maker of kites –
something for the wind to take in passing,
the sweet unravel of string, line’s pure invention –
a part of speech, the monologist’s ersatz auditor,
gone with a kite, back, into airy nothing,
recalled: a local habitation, and a name.

Eleanor Wilner

The Singers

They are not angels
though they have the hollow look
of beings bred on ether. There’s an air
of cool removal from your life, the hawk’s
indifference to the hare’s terror.
You see it in their palms, raised casually
against the fresco’s surface, as to glass
of submarine or spacecraft, and you see
it in their eyes, oracular, that let you pass
alone to unknown agony. The song
they sing is merely time.

Todd Hearon

On a Bird Singing In Its Sleep

A bird half wakened in the lunar noon

Sang halfway through its little inborn tune.

Partly because it sang but once all night

And that from no especial bush’s height,

Partly because it sang ventriloquist

And had the inspiration to desist

Almost before the prick of hostile ears.

It ventured less in peril than appears.

It could not have come down to us so far,

Through the interstices of things ajar

On the long bead chain of repeated birth,

To be a bird while we are men on earth,

If singing out of sleep and dream that way

Had made it much more easily a prey.


Robert Frost

The Little Canticles of Asturias


And then at midnight as we started to descend

Into the burning valley of Gijon,

Into its blacks and crimsons, in medias res,

It was as if my own face burned again

In front of the fanned-up lip and crimson maw

Of a pile of newspapers lit long ago

One windy evening, breaking off and away

In flame-posies, small airborne fire-ships

Endangering the house-thatch and the stacks –

For we almost panicked there in the epic blaze

Of those furnaces and hot refineries

Where the night shift worked on in their element

And we lost all hope of reading the map right

And gathered speed and cursed the hellish roads.


Seamus Heaney

Blue Poison Dart Frog

Little gas flame sparking in the mulch

Cog-tooth of a Scandinavian iris

Micro-totem to a god of shyness

Petrol bubble birthed from earthy belch

Tree kingfisher chink, shorn off mid-brawl

Driblet-beast from thirty fathoms down

Half-exploded tear drop of a clown

Alien seedling, sown amidst a squall

Blot made by a buggered cartridge pen

Bubblegum in Violet’s champion gob

Goblin bleach got worryingly smart

The genitalia of a very ill man

Lightening caught and boiled down to its nub

An arrowhead that’s softened to a heart

Jon Stone