In looking for a suitable sample to put on here, I chose one which is a) short and b) not too complex behind the scenes. It’s a straightforward descriptive piece, but I hope I made it lively and three-dimensional. The real life location is in Leicester, near the DMU student district; and I was waiting there for a venue to open, then I could take part as a reader.
As usual in real life, other things happened which I couldn’t get into the poem. I found a whole cucumber on the pavement outside the shop, and two ice-cream vendors were having a turf war because one of them had occupied a pitch which affected the others’ business. I really wanted to put the vendors in, but they didn’t work as part of a poem; and the cucumber would have lent a sharp surrealist touch. But no.
This one appears in the latest collection, The Complete Electric Artisan.
WAITING ON WESTERN ROAD
At 5pm the buildings shake their people loose:
the japanese canal with its painted-on lily pads
is an enamelled trackway,
the air is as sultry as a dark peony whose time has come
and I’m outside the 24/7 convenience store
sharp grit in the turnstile of commerce.
The concrete and its small thrust stage
these littered people, spreading –
they are drawn to the urban pocket park
growing its metal lamp-posts,
their bark-chip playground a citadel
with its towers and plastic slides.
Ice-cream charms are spangling the planet
with rusted atonal clangs –
and elephantine, a delivery van
goes nosing the tarmacked streets
a liner at the dock:
petrol in the freighted atmosphere,
a curtain-wall of windows
from the clamorous 19th century
with arterial plumbing clung to its sides
like tied mountaineers, but frozen.
I’m published mostly by Shoestring Press, and you can find their site at http://www.shoestringpress.co.uk.
Everything apart from Newborough County (out of print) should be available on Amazon, and an ebook version for Kindle is available for Secret Villages. ‘SV’ featured in the Forward Poetry awards for 2002, and helped me to define a style where I felt confident as a poet. You’ll know how important that is!
Newborough County (Shoestring, 2001)
Secret Villages (Flambard Press, 2001)
Borderville (Shoestring, 2011)
Candleshoe (Shoestring, 2014)
The Complete Electric Artisan (Shoestring, 2017).