New Poems

In the bones of the disused gasometer

the domed container would rise, telescoping up… in the evening the levels
would sink back down as the gas was used to light and heat homes

     - Ed Ram: 'Will the UK’s gas holders be missed?' BBC 2015

A ruin’s a fine thing to swim in, as air does
    in the bones of a disused gasometer,
a chance to think quietly and alone

then climb from the ribs of its municipal
    sky-pool, free from your drowning clothes
and the black wet sea at your heels.

How we lived then, with the gas-dragon
    caged out the back between railway
and cricket ground, its nightly reveal

of the roofline, the infirmary lights
    always on like a cruise ship,
the patients pretending to sleep.

Since you’ve been gone, the pipework’s
    been salvaged, reborn as a deep-toning chime
at the opera house, where each evening

I sit through the roofless old tale
    of the painter, the lover-like sister, the stain
on the firing squad floor, just to hear it -

continuing life as a nightly-struck church bell,
    the derelict stars pouring down
though the holes in the sail of the sky.

(published in the TLS)

ack: Poets & Players, Whitworth Gallery, Manchester 2012


The Experiment

Dearests I have arrived. Some things
have already been taken: the small blue bowls
and airmail stationery, the summer tablecloth (only
slightly blue), and the darkness is now quite cleared.

All I can say is, try when you come not to think
of the dark: take the boat and do the experiment -
you will have to put every ounce of what you know
into it or it will never lift off or be carried across.

In a small country like ours you must be prepared
for no-one to think this possible, like the first pioneers
of flight those two so close all their lives, watching the wind
and birds, their dazzling feats and equilibrium.

Sleep is chalky now. Most of the underblue
has gone from beneath the bed. Only the light remains
and the roses wild and idle just as you will remember them.
Stay together whenever the times allow.

(first published in Poetry London)

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