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Saved by a wandering mind

Published by Level Playing Field, August 2009.

A collection of poems written over the past twelve years.

Here are two poems from Saved by a wandering mind:

Privatising the underground

Riding the thronged tube at dusk he sought
above the heads of passengers
an emptiness in which he could think
simple, impersonal thoughts.

This grasping at the idea of peace
comes down hard on the inner ear
– patient like the skin of a drum,
erect like crepe in a wind-tunnel.

As the evening settles, ten thousand
novels are being written. Their silence
muffles the sportscaster’s brio. It’s the summer
of high-pressure sales techniques,

the month of being late for work,
the week of waging war on the neighbour’s cat,
the day of which no trace remains
in the memory looping back on itself.

The signal bell keeps ragged time.
Outside Finsbury Park the stalled train
is held in one piece as one holds
an enormous breath, diaphragm taut.

From a B Road
(form follows functionlessness)

The tractor tire, with its man-eating tread,
wrestles with the wrought-iron plough
whose elegant incisors blunt themselves
against the chrome-stripped car door.

In a poplar-sheltered hollow, these rootless things
sink into the leafmould. Propane
gas cylinder and knotted blue hose-pipe,
bicycle seat and grinning radiator.

Dragged from afar, dumped,
the plastic bucket of hardened cement,
the sink unit stuccoed with birdshit.

In the tangle of oxidised limbs I lose myself
exploring the dark stomach of a washing machine,
revelling in broken glass and the black shreds of bin-liners.

I crawl out the nozzle of a three-in-one can, sneak
down the mangled canyon of a chicken feeder
and shimmy up a television aerial:

beyond trees, in a neighbouring field
a gas cooker stands alone,
like an installation in an art gallery,
exuding a lost sense of purpose.