3060 Slices
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Medium 9781847770974

4 The Mermen’s Song

Gallas, John Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781574415049

Like Superman

Matt Miller University of North Texas Press PDF

Like Superman

From slick covered stacks of capes and masks a boy begins the walk to school with ganglions blitzing comic book kinetics.

One step bat, next step spider, fists popping claws, carrying shields and totem boomerangs, he walks the rooftop ledge of sidewalks swinging across greenlight crosswalks on webs, on hooks, on wings, on fire, and hunts the menaces of world and city to save the girl in second period math who sits next to him and smells like berries.

Then somewhere the pulp yellows into grey. Those bright colors of his bad guys dull to everyday.

And he figures out evil is historical, subtle, and not to be found in the hysterical smile of clowns drawn in gloss brigades of paint and ink.

No monsters. No madmen on the fringe.

No easy enemy to swoop down upon.

Just debt, taxes, and acid reflux while charcoal men wage cartoon wars.

Still, he thinks it would be nice if he could feel his thumbs press into the throat of a purple villain to win a kiss from that girl in math who smells like berries.

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Medium 9781847770998

Gérard de Nerval

John Gallas Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

and for Nerval

Gérard de Nerval was born in Paris in 1808. He lived a life of poetry, nervous breakdowns and insanity. He took his pet lobster for walks in public gardens. When friends found him dreaming, they feared to wake him, lest he fall from ‘the great heights of his imagination’. He hanged himself in Paris in 1855.

Eight Odelettes

Lords and Flunkeys

Those long-gone lords out of novels, those big beefheads, things out of Dante, with giant bonehouse bodies that could have come rootstocking out of the earth – if they came back to the world, and decided to inspect the heirs of their Deathless Names, that tribe of Laridons that clutter the Cabinet

Villas, grovelling, greedy and cheap; spindly, corseted things, stuffed shirt-fronts, fake pad-legs – surely these lords would know that, since long ago their girlies had souped flunkey blood with the lordly kind.

Waking Up in a Carriage

Here’s what I saw – trees jumble scramming down the road like a routed army; under me, like it was pitched by the whip wind, the ground, bowling in torrents of clumps and cobbles.

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Medium 9781847772442

War Poet

Stallworthy, Jon Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

War Poet facilis descensus Averno: noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, hoc opus, hic labor est.

Virgil, Aeneid VI, 126–29

Back to South Leigh for evensong and, in the sermon, watched the long arm of the sun restore the Doom above the chancel arch. Thy kingdom come, with a vengeance! The entrenched dead, rising as Reveille sounded, parted company. Sinners condemned to join the chain-gang of the damned recovered ‘objects of desire’ and fell in for eternal fire.

I knew them, even naked – Smith,

Haynes, Adrian, Hill, Roberts (with his hand restored) – my own lot, plus the General. He had earned his place!

But then, herded with them downhill,

I was reprieved. Detailed for hell,

I heard beyond the traverse an archangelic sentry’s voice:

‘Wiring party coming in.’

They came in without Adrian.


We never found him – never will – with the 25-pounders still pounding the waves of wire and mist.

We miss him in the morning most when his Reveille, whistled, set the blackbird on the parapet

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Medium 9781574412420

Roller Skates

Richard Carr University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781847770684

The Black Cat’s Conversation

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684


Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


For weeks before it comes I feel excited, yet when it

At last arrives, things all go wrong:

My thoughts don’t seem to fit.

I’ve planned what I’ll give everyone and what they’ll give to me,

And then on Christmas morning all

The presents seem to be

Useless and tarnished. I had dreamt that everything would come

To life – presents and people too.

Instead of that, I’m dumb.

And people say, ‘How horrid! What a sulky little boy!’

And they are right. I can’t seem pleased.

The lovely shining toy

I wanted so much when I saw it in a magazine

Seems pointless now. And Christmas too

No longer seems to mean

The hush, the star, the baby, people being kind again.

The bells are rung, sledges are drawn,

And peace on earth for men.


Sleep, my baby, the night is coming soon.

Sleep, my baby, the day has broken down.

Sleep now: let silence come, let the shadows form

A castle of strength for you, a fortress of calm.

You are so small, sleep will come with ease.

Hush now, be still now, join the silences.

the secret brother and other poems (1966)

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Medium 9781847770684

The Child and the Shadow

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

a sense of the world


The Child and the Shadow

Your shadow I have seen you play with often.

O and it seems a shadow light before you,

Glittering behind you. You can see what lies

Beneath its marking dappled on the water

Or on the earth a footprint merely;

No total darkness is cast by your body.

Say that it is a game of identities this –

You chasing yourself not caring whatever you find.

You have not sought a use for mirrors yet,

It is not your own shadow that you watch,

Only our world which you learn slowly:

Our shadows strive to mingle with your own,

Chase them, then, as you chase the leaves or a bird,

Disturb us, disturb us, still let the light lie gently

Under the place that you carve for yourself in air;

Look, the fish are darting beneath your reflection

But you see deep beyond your glance:

It is our shadow that slides in between.

Old Woman

So much she caused she cannot now account for

As she stands watching day return, the cool

Walls of the house moving towards the sun.

She puts some flowers in a vase and thinks

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Medium 9781847770684

A Play at Avignon

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


Tight-roper, care, do not look down,

Think of the thread beneath your foot,

Forget the pony and the clown,

Discard the circus, see before

Your gaze a safety held, complete

And, after that, the tidal roar

Of watchers, some of whom no doubt

Wanted a death. You have an hour

When you can cast your terror out,

Depend no more on balance but

On earth whose ground gives you the power,

You think, to snatch that rope and cut.

A Play at Avignon

Emptiness after midnight since the voices

Had stopped at last, no echo left behind

Within that courtyard. Stars had crowded out

Sound, and because there had been voices once

There was a vacancy that almost, now,

Seemed to be measurable. The actors had

Spoken their classic lines and simply bowed

And moved from sight. Day would redeem the view,

The famous broken bridge turn thoughts to rivers

Or else to painting. Southern atmosphere,

Pervasive and imprisoning, would return

And pick each small square out, each watered field,

Light point the way to Orange or to Nîmes,

And all Provence be like a text of which

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Medium 9781847779731


Rossetti, Christina Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

‘The fields are white to harvest, look and see,

Are white abundantly.

The full-orbed harvest moon shines clear,

The harvest time draws near,

Be of good cheer.’

‘Ah woe is me!

I have no heart for harvest time,

Grown sick with hope deferred from chime to chime!’

‘But Christ can give thee heart Who loveth thee:

Can set thee in the eternal ecstasy

Of His great jubilee:

Can give thee dancing heart and shining face,

And lips filled full of grace,

And pleasures as the rivers and the sea.

Who knocketh at His door

He welcomes evermore:

Kneel down before

That ever-open door

(The time is short) and smite

Thy breast, and pray with all thy might.’

‘What shall I say?’

                          ‘Nay, pray.

Tho’ one but say “Thy will be done,”

He hath not lost his day

At set of sun.’

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Medium 9781847770684

The Infatuation

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

If she his waking love and she his dream

Used cruelly should meet, his love would stir

A sympathy and union in them,

The loved and loving have a common theme,

And he the instigator be in neither

But as the cause they recognised each other.

The Meeting

This meeting now blurs all we have become

Though not quite back to then,

And asks that here we build ourselves not dream

Each other out as when love had begun,

For now each one must fashion himself of

No other but himself and not of love.

So only can we greet and meet in calm

And watch the once mixed love divide and go

To where the other cannot know

And not to you or me as home.

So we construct

Pure meeting of pure self we think and yet

Envy those others moving into love

Strange and oblique where we are now direct.

The Infatuation

She looks in mood of dream to take his meaning

And loves what she is thinking that she sees

And gathers it so close about her ways

She cannot see he has a true beginning

Within her only, imaged there to dress

All her own passion in a deep distress.

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Medium 9781847770684

XX (‘How much a garland pleases when it lies’)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


How much a garland pleases when it lies,

Woven with flowers, upon some golden hair;

It seems as if each blossom thrusts and tries

To be the first to kiss that forehead fair.

Contented all day long that garment is

Which spreads itself but first clings to her breast.

The golden thread asks nothing but to rest,

Touching her cheeks and throat with tenderness.

More honoured still that ribbon which can lie,

Gilded and shaped in the most cunning fashion,

Touching the breast which it so carefully laces.

And that small belt that knots so easily

Seems to declare, ‘Unceasing my caresses.’

Would that my arms might join in such a passion!


To others merciful and only to

Itself unkind, this lowly creature who

Sloughs off its skin in pain that it may give

Pleasure to others, dies that they may live.

So do I long for such a destiny –

That from my death, my Lord, you might alone

Take life; then by my death I too might be

Changed like the worm which casts its skin on stone.

For if that skin were mine I could at least

Be woven in a gown to clasp that breast,

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Medium 9781847770950

A Huntingdonshire Elegy

Powell, Neil Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

A Huntingdonshire Elegy

In memory of Rod Shand

How typical of you to disappear like that:

Nothing packed, wallet and house-keys left,

Just going for a stroll. So here’s a caveat:

A double existence out of Greene or le Carré

Is something you might plausibly possess.

Your life’s disguises seem to twinkle: ‘Solve me!’

You were a riddle from the day I heard of you,

Bored, out of my depth, at my first staff meeting,

Where dull men grumbled on about no one I knew.

‘What does one say to a boy who spends his summer

Touring the brothels of Latin America?’

Silence, then: ‘Ask for the addresses, Headmaster.’

This I must meet, I thought. And luck had me teaching

‘General English’ to the upper science sixth,

As if someone supposed they needed civilising.

Some did; but you, the biologist from Bogotá,

Introduced me to your Spanish talisman,

The ‘Pequeño Poema Infinito’ of Lorca.

At Christmas and Easter, though it seemed illegal,

You didn’t go home but took a flat in Cambridge.

We roamed the colleges, drank in the Eagle,

And talked and talked of books. One afternoon you

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Medium 9781847770684

Adolescence, July 1958 (WUL, 1)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

The shore is ribbed baffles the mind.

What footprint will be left behind,

What will tomorrow’s voices say?

Towards Contemplation

Not to the sun these worshippers

(The footfalls echo down the street):

The fountains guess an instant’s throw

As if the hour itself would slow.

It is the mind, not sense, that stirs

Yet light is hot beneath our feet.

Churches are cool and air expands

Wide in the dark, then drawn across

The smells and sighs. And silence here

Dispels, not emphasises fear.

Touch is subdued while waiting hands

Are folded in a full repose.

But who can say the dark he finds

Is not the opposite of light,

The light that breaks across the air

And halts a shadow with a stare?

O we are flesh and our own minds

Need the brash sun, the brazen sight.


I was a child when the war began

Waiting with net above a shallow pool

I watched for prawns. All the Atlantic ran

Backward and forward, thread upon a spool.

What does a child know of tides and can

Clear minds be muddied by a world’s mistake?

Bombs fell beyond my city. All I knew

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Medium 9781847770684

Instead of an Elegy

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Clouds there was shine enough

For meeting and mating. Daffodils blew in the wind

And it was as if love

Were insisting on being vocal. Surely the mind

Of a maker turned the leaf

Of his book of life and set

Free creation again and love again.

This was a dream and yet

When I woke and saw the snow turning to rain

And the trees dripping wet,

I smelt the smack of Spring in the changing air,

Heard the blackbird’s triumphant call, and Persephone near.

Instead of an Elegy

What is this calm in which I walk? Does it

Issue from me or is it part of this

So welcome Spring that gathers round my feet?

There is a hesitancy in the trees

As if they needed several weeks to grow

Accustomed to the warmth. I am with these

And with the just-appearing snowdrop who

Looks round for space and throws timidity

Away. What is this peace in which I know

Nothing but tenderness to a dead friend,

No elegiac mood, no painful tears?

I am at a beginning, not an end,

And in this start, I dance with ardent Spring

And join the blackbirds. I learn how to sing,

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