Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Untidy Dreadful Table
1918 – 1986
Inscription found on the table of WS Graham
Untidy dreadful table
You’ve taken the weight of words
Along lines upon lines upon your back
Vertical lines like reeds rising from a lake
You’ve felt the thud of keys
Against carbon against paper
And now beyond the space
Beyond the poet
Who laid down words and walked away
Beyond the time of urgency
The capturing of words
To engage a passing reader
In this quiet space
In this corner of an imagined place
Sitting in front
Of an untidy dreadful table
Washing faces and forearms in the river.
Washing our feet, calves, the bodily heat.
Washing out the snot from our noses.
Cleaning the root of the tongue.
Tearing dog roses full of redness.
Handfuls of petals on the surface.
Letting words go with the flower heads,
letting the words cleanse the root of
the tongue. River of words, undulating
heavy mirror. The magnetic coldness,
stones slippery with angel hair weed
dancing along down in the cold.
Bluelookout is a tractor climb
to where you see the South Pacific.
The animals who stay
up there don’t know to see it.
Bluelookout is the colours and smooth
texture of forest pigeons
though it’s ‘dirty’ in some folds
with scrub the old ones would have burnt.
Grasses of exotic green
radiate down its ridge lines
just how snow would lie
and the owner’s house snuggles
in close, not for shelter
but out of all the view.
I arrive early afternoon in a blaze
of wrong-seasoned sun.
The Thames drags its tourists upstream,
all the babies are out, some Italians are lost.
Your seaside home has been re-built
here, cloud-high in concrete,
spliced between lift-chime
and the airless hum of books–
an edit point, pause palace. I find
the door to the door to your door,
close it behind me.
Candles dance an imitation flicker,
your desk is patterned with pockmarks ,
your bed made up in a red check–
an invitation to rest, yet
I dream deepest standing up.
The gulls are switched on, crying above
waves piped in with no salty tang.
I come to this place. Come to this place.
Everything repeats on a loop.
I’ve brought some fine words for your list
including sweven, noetic, griskin,
and a small joke that nods
to our hard Celtic “r’s”.
Something chirrups, another creaks,
you murmur about the dead of your life.
I pace the floorboards with a soft tread,
in the next room you are typing, were typing.
I fashion the bedspread into a shawl
as the not-night begins to bite.
The sound of whiskey pouring tempts the back
of my throat, the typewriter ribbon’s gone dry.
Paper is scrunched, the radio switched off,
We speak into this quiet that was made for us.
It’s growing late, the real river catches
the evening’s navy robe as it falls. I wonder
how on earth I can leave you now.
O my love keep the day.