A poem from ‘Brass’

Reproduced as best as possible, without permission

I want to read this, straightforwardly, as taking a photograph and returning home, being warmed there and the image of “wheels / muffled in sheep- / skin”, a reference to smuggling amber in Austria, and – for me – commentary on the symbol of kitsch car accessories.

I suppose I tend to need to anchor a poem in some – any – experience the poet has had, however trivial, for coherence. That problem seems the inverse of the bodily experience of pressure when writing, which suggests that it might be an equation – tacitly – of free verse to speech.

But what is an alternative mode of coherence: beyond trivia and self?

Starting with meaning in melopoeia – music.

The Nightfishing

Sixteen page neo-romantic poem, accompanied by ‘Seven Letters’ apparently written to both an absent lover and a fellow nightfisher. Written 1955, the same as Larkin’s ‘The Less Deceived’.

A recurring theme of “sea as a metaphor of the sea”, seems to center on the writer perishing, on-board – to a woman – just as he does writing his letters. For me, it’s only in those letters that the reference to “Time’s grace” in the main poem seems to be borne out: “this moment” allows Graham to write, as well as erase himself from the sea.

And some of the writing is effective, if oddly dramatic in address. I don’t think the meter distracts from that especially.

It is us at last sailed into the chance

Of a good take. For there is water gone

Lit black and wrought like iron into the look

That’s right for herring. We dropped to the single motor. (Collected poems, 109).

The poem swallows its author – WS Graham – but leaves this reader unsatisfied and a little bored.

Ickerbrow Trig

Haslam’s blurb calls it a “pun”, among other assorted attributes. An Icker is a small piece of grain, so it’s probably about ‘middlebrow’.

The fist poem begins:

Snow fell from heaven while Aneurin Bevin

thought to spawn the NHS. Mother had drunk

her Guinness bottles on prescription nonetheless.

It’s certainly not doggerel, and the language – I’m unsure if it’s truly epic in scope, or just a joke about the romantics – pushes hard against serious content. Yes, poetry is “life or death”. Or is the NHS?

These poems don’t think for you, they just pretend to show off. My concern is that it’s not well suited to ‘moments’, for which I have a preference to over ‘place’.

But perhaps a deceptively visual poetry.

McLane’s ‘This Blue’

Why Dante in summertime?

When most of our modern poets confine themselves to what they had perceived, they produce for us, usually, only odds and ends of still life and stage properties; that does not imply so much that the method of Dante is obsolete, but that our vision is perhaps comparatively restricted (Eliot, The Sacred Wood).

McLane’s latest collection I found musically well weighted. Perhaps a little obviously so, but she seemed in control of any lack of subtlety.

However, I was disappointed with the collection as a whole, which dawned on me for the penultimate section to the book, and its reference to Wordsworth

When we had given our bodies to the wind

we found bones in earth and not in sky.

We found arrowheads in the earth and not in the sky though

they flown through the air before grounding (p65).

There is no loss of language, and nor do I have a sense of resignation to content; but I am puzzled by her equations on love and death.

‘the beats’

Move again Jack! Move again Jack! Keep moving!

Jah Luccio, live

four poems in TFR

the foul body

“The ten kinds of foulness are these: the bloated, the livid, the festering, the cutup, the gnawed, the scattered, the hacked and scattered, the bleeding, the worminfested, and a skeleton”

“one who sees internal materiality as foul (ugly) fully understands nutriment consisting of physical nutriment. He abandons the perversion [of perceiving] beauty in the foul (ugly), he crosses the flood of sense desire, he is loosed from the bond of sense desire…”

The Path of Purification – Buddhaghosa

notes on Williams’ “novel”

he needs progress and to leave, but there is nothing to leave but a woman.

Meeting with things… words are loveless

The Great American Novel

“progress… Down one street, up another… It rained on the white goldenrod… one must begin.”


“cherries… But who do you think I am, says white goldenrod? Of course there is progress. Of course there are words. But I am thirsty, one might add. Yes but I love you and besides I have no milk… There are no words.”


“now he must leave her”


more poems in stride

part of the remix project at stride