Stay in the loop, sign up for email updates about new items, events and competitions
Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
If we think dishonestly, or malignantly, our thoughts
will die like evil fungi – dripping corrupt dew
John Ruskin, Proserpina
The smell –
wet anorak, fusty books, disturbed dust
of long unopened doors –
like the basement of your childhood,
beautiful scary darkness.
their tiny heads through dirt,
explorers from another age, and find
a world glassy with rain, a forest
thick with leaf mulch.
A good one,
if you’re starving, could save
your life. A bad one would kill you
after only one bite. Step on its poison head,
it billows black fumes.
Lost in the woods
and hungry, how to tell them apart?
You can trust the feel of flesh on your tongue,
good meat – you know it won’t hurt you,
you’re a bit of a witch yourself.
out of nothing comes...
nothing comes out of nothing
cut / switch to
a small room, in a building of small rooms. “Enclosed thus”. Outside
there are bare trees groaning and twisting in the wind. A cold
long road with houses either side that finally leads down hill to a
railway station. The Exit.
Out on the estuary four people in a small dinghy at high tide. Canada
geese and oyster catchers around. The pale winter sunlight and cold
clear air. Onshore the village church contains the tomb of Canute’ s
daughter, the black Sussex raven emblazoned an the stone.
Sat round a fire. The black Saxon raven rampant.
In the dream.
Enclosed, I reach out. She moves in her ways that the facts of
closeness, familiarity, obscure. Our not quite knowing one another
in that sense of clear distance, that sense that comes with distance,
like old photos making everything so set, clear, and easily under-
stood - so we think.
Face to face the changes flicking by second by second. Not the face
fixed that yes I know her. Not the easy sum of qualities.
How long since you’ve known who you are? How long? Why who
you? Don’t know. Long time. Only have old photos, old images,
old ikons peeling. That man who lived at X, did Y, travelled to Z,
and back, “The Lone Gent”?
Why, who was that masked man? Why, don’t you know?
In the closeness that comes with shared actions. From keeping a
ream clean, keeping old clothes clean, cooking a meal to be eaten
by the both of us. In Thai: closeness, maybe on the edge of loosing
something gaining something. Questions of clarity and recognitions.
We swing hard a-port then let the current take us, the ebb tide
pulling us out towards the Channel. The birds about, the colours
of the sky, the waters, all the different plants growing beside the
estuary, and the heavy brown ploughed fields behind these banks.
Here, more than anywhere else, every thing, all becomes beautitul
and exciting - and the fact of being alive at such moments,
being filled with this Immense beauty, right, Rilke, “ecstasy”,
makes the fact of living immeasurably precious.
Enclosed by cold in the winter. The clear sharp days walking down
hill looking out to sea, the wind up, the waves crashing on the
shingle beaches. And the days of rain and harsh grey skies, coming
home from work in the dark through the car lights and shop lights.
The exit always there. I can’t say I “know” you. But neither can I
say what “knowing” is. We are here, and somehow It works, our
The sky, the gulls wheeling and squawking above, the flint walls of
these South Saxon churches, the yew trees branching up into that
winter sky. I know these. But not what you’re thinking, what anyone
is thinking. I can never know that, only work with that - as it comes.
Open arms open air come clear.
The dinghy is brought ashore. The people drag it up the bank and
carry it to the cottage where they stow it neatly. Everything “ship shape”
Out to sea the coasters head for Shoreham and Newhaven. Along
the coast small blue trains rattle along through Chichester,
Littlehampton, Worthing, and on to Brighton.
The fire is stoked up in the small roam. The people in the cottage
all eat dinner together, are happy in one another’s company.
That I love you, we know this, parting the branches and ferns as
we push on through the wood.
Yours pearls worn siren smooth,
no longer luminous, unlike
your grey green skin:
my mother - still beautiful.
I start gathering shells
as you lie dying,
selecting only the best.
For the altar bowls of oysters,
tinged with grey lustre;
strewn clam shells and bouquets
of periwinkles - soft bodies, now gone,
maybe drowned in the stomach of the sea
or buried in the sand.
I bring you the roots of sea holly
adorned by silver leaves to soothe,
maybe stem the tempest in your belly
before the carcinoma swells
your fish-like tissue and you body
flips in on itself one last time.
I am eating the newspaper for breakfast
and sipping the colour supplements, thoughtfully;
it is one of those days.
The postman has delivered a litter of puppies,
the milkman forgotten human kindness.
The radio waves are crashing ashore
with news of bitter conflict in Switzerland.
The toast has buttered itself and slipped off
to seduce the marmalade, leaving only
crumbs of comfort on my plate;
Soon the telephone will be dead
and the Salvation Army will have come
to take me away. For ever.
reading Yasunari Kawabata
Pattern can’t fit into a carefully constructed prism.
Cut peonies and pale carnations want to be forgiven,
Don’t yearn for perfection, eternal or no.
Words come back mildewed, fingering a tea cup balanced on the knee.
The garden is overgrown, it no longer understands
The cruelty of pruning. Mistaken handkerchief in heaven.
Nothing is mere hobby: tea napkins, charcoals, ink-dishes
The page offers no resistance, the poet’s feather pen writes freely,
I smile too early at the seduction of the weak.
If it’s only a power game between the sexes,
Why this single model? Interpret a thousand lines.
Can the male drive alone give art balance?
Train tracks move along the same center of gravity. Unable to
bear the weight,
Truth melts: it’s the street’s still wet surface. In one stroke, delete
Then feel the spring breeze caress gas stations, toll booths,
The flattened body of a pregnant rabbit fails to mean. Deductive
There’s no shortage of counter-evidence from inherited theory.
What did you say? Let the wheel chase the wheel? I can’t hear you.
Question the flowers’ chastity. There are too many metaphors
In the morning glory, the scarlet star, wax flower, wild strawberry...
Who could write these names down and still follow the guide?
Flowers fall to the page, scatter, refusing space.
Their position is ambiguous, for a flower is no flower, ink no ink;
Premises change with shifting petals and handwriting.
It’s impossible to be naïve. Lotuses compete like crows,
Birds in the garden who turn back your desire.
The painted garden is an exaggerated advertisement, and shameless.
One must regard pattern as pattern to imagine the dance of
Perhaps we should be pickier,
Mating rituals shake through the depth of our words?.
Political correctness and entering without resistance are both lies.
The ink that drips down the fountain pen isn’t related to
Innocence can never face itself, even written in white and black.
To watch water, you don’t have to go to the sea. Tea and ink are
Eyes crumble, watching water.
There’s only one story: to complete the eternity of the kettle
the tea bowl must be broken.
Deep in a black hole see my bluest lady,
blue luminosity fixed like a jewel,
tilt 23o from vertical
the axis of her head, her upper body
and mind bent like a divining rod toward me,
allowing me latitude from pole to pole.
I hope no more than to play her footstool;
the curtains of her robe descending round me
bring night lit by aromas of the sea,
the harbors of a sunken continent
of her desire rotating hourly by our
jeweled movement. Why turn to lighter day?
Stay to rain on this mutable planet
nocturnal seed, oh nacreous seafarer.