Poem of the day

Anniversary Trip

by Caroline Natzler

The heat is second-hand, burns back from stone.

Arcades dark as skulls’ eyes.

Too hot to hold your hand,

besides, why risk it here?

We tread across the square to find a cafe

pick our way through a tangle of wrought iron

   chairs—

I hold them back like brambles for you to pass

trying courtesy.

We sit, the only women, our flesh heavy.

Pigeons strut around old canon balls

palm tree shadows waver, uncertain camouflage.

Midday.

A toddler chases a pigeon that can hardly be

   bothered.

Shriek, flurry, and stop. Shriek, flurry, and stop.

Swift groups of men finger small packages

as a policeman watches in a corner

his braids white.

The cafe table is scarred

and you’re crying because the tortilla is a cold slab

left over from last night.

 

23 May

Cat Island

by Thom Gunn

Cats met us at

the landing-place

reclining in the sun

to check us in

with a momentary glance,

concierges

of a grassy island.

(Attila’s Throne,

the Devil’s Bridge,

and “the best Byzantine

church in the world”,

long saints admonitory

on kiln-like inner walls.)

And lunch in a shady court

where cats now

systematically worked

the restaurant, table

by table, gazing into eyes

pleading “I’m hungry

and I’m cute”, reaching

front paws up to knees

and always getting

before zeroing in

on the next table, same

routine, same result.

 

Sensible bourgeois

wild-cats working

with the furred impudence

of those who don’t pretend

to be other than whores,

they give you not

the semblance of love

but simply

a look at their beauty

in return for food.

Models, not escorts.

They lack, too,

the prostitute’s self-pity,

being beyond shame.

And we lack

what they have.

 

22 May

Helpline

by Mario Petrucci

It’s a wire

into your head

– a mouth-

 

piece pressed

up to the mouth

as key after

 

key is punched

with your heart

on your lips

 

so some voice

at that other

end will ask

 

Can I help

you? then wait

to ask again

 

until some-

thing gives

to make its

 

one

moment

clear

 

that when we risk

speech or dare

listen

 

a line is

thrown down

that line we

 

call phone –

a tension strung

across un-

 

speaking

chasms whose

both ends

 

hold (hold

with hands of

strangers)

 

the receiver

 

21 May

Polycotyledonous

by Jonathan Williams

20 May

My best friend

by Simon Barraclough

sees every Iranian flick,

makes tiny notes in caffs,

likes a full English

but not a fried slice

because fried slice is ‘wrong’,

listens to The Beta Band,

sucks on a pipe full of cotton wool

that I bought him, pissed,

on Seventh Avenue,

dealt with his Mum’s suicide,

gets to the smallest exhibitions,

makes all technology go wrong,

stood by me when I went mad,

understands Hegel

reads a lot of S-F,

lives round the corner,

comes to Lambchop gigs,

eats too quickly,

drinks Maker’s Mark,

might be leaving town.

 

19 May

Lingering

by Richard Goring

18 May

Village Fiddler

by Penelope Shuttle

What’s more final than divorce?

 

This is,

being forever without you,

no hope of reconciliation,

a door

closing me into the alone of myself,

into the evening of everything,

kings no longer robed in flamingo silks,

the long voyage of dusk into more dusk,

darkness and its very small secrets,

your death

fixing me forever on the outskirts of tears.

 

Once I had the lion’s share of you,

now

I’m like a village fiddler,

my tune a ragged green curtain

on which deer leap through foliage,

and where you are the darkest tree

 

in a forest not of this world.