On Breathing Room III
By Anthony Gormley
I step backwards into it,
a paradigm of time
and space: stacked, propped
and columned. As foes
of forgotten brotherhoods,
war. Structure shifts, from
sitting-down to standing-up,
moving to stock-still;
atoms split, electrons trill.
Inside these walls is plenty,
outside is rush and panic,
the to-and-fro of workplace
and dinner-date. It’s not just
a clock but mechanical zeniths
and a cache of interfering
science. The exhibition closes
but the cafe, proffering syrups
and sugars, remains open, delivering
an epiphany: I, too, am science
and precedent is everywhere,
when layers as complex
as trifle pudding, have started
back at recipe.
Feathers and Cream (fourteen)
When each part of you tweets,
like the voiced pipes
of some elaborate organ,
you’re not a thing grown thin -
that puny frame, its bag of bones,
its winsome skin, will coruscate
Such a shift; where settled nights
in Carluke are suddenly prized
and more lionized than both
sides of America, than French
fables where, in chateaux, wine
is quaffed and laughter puffs
like excitable bonfires.
The crux of it is I was prickly
for you to know, a wily seadog:
flaunting an admiration over aptitude
for stars - more troublesome
than torpid, louder than numb.
Imagine having missed this!
Within two chapters I’ve outrun
night’s galactic mischief, balanced
out the receipts of my recklessness
and in a, divinely timed,
and thrilling plumage,
It’s like when a car radio loses it frequency
spilling down a deep fissure,
then just as you forgot about the music
it bursts back, trumpeting
your favourite song.
So today, as pylons streak the sky
a ferocious sun sets over Glasgow,
bleeding, looking almost African,
it’s now it could be true -
we’re not so different you and I. 
 Krakens stalking the ship, kamikaze meteors circling our shadows.
 The addled, smelted, hazy and heavy.
 Things that didn’t fit:
(i) that (topsy-turvy) smile;
(ii) the little soldiers in your voice; their pockets full of cherry bombs.
The fence around Jesmond Dene
punctuates the perimeter,
like Saturn’s ringed sentries;
a sharp wind shoves
with bullish force.
Below Armstrong’s Bridge
in Colman’s Field, the names
of pets on graves evoke
our retinal cartwheeling:
‘Bruce, Rough Collie
A dear friend.’
These pedigree stones,
are powdered daily, nowt
but a little moss, seeping out
of cracks; there’s something in this,
totems of how backwards
things can be.
As we vent spleen, the wind blusters
into full cantata, shakes
the surrounding alpines, shapes
silhouettes in the furs;
sky decants darkness, rains
erupt and our courage crumbles.
So hand-in-hand we’ll dash
from the Dene, a single stiffened
slavering, as dogs do.
Hello Bréon, it’s nice meet you
- please ignore the scratches,
I’ve been browning in gutters,
amongst wet cigarettes and the last
flecks of Camden’s lanceolated leaves.
As things stand: faith is grubby,
sweet premise pale, the railings, too,
have lost their stockings - nowt
but dankness underneath.
I’ve noticed your stories don’t involve
sticky risings, Senegalese dealers
or Lambeth car-parks and I’m very
intrigued; alas for fear
you’d think me mad
(or a poor secret-keeper), I snub
the amber squalls which haemorrhage
through the firmament. For you,
too, blaze, thatching synergies,
talking of six continents
operating like organs. It was years
further when I spoke of the stars:
blinking blinking, as night
flinched beneath them.
To which you replied Ahhh
the Stars! I thought you’d never ask.
My discontentment resides in Nottingham
along with some choice pubs
and a favourite day: The Tap, The Stage,
a trip to the park one afternoon
when everything was fresh; the clouds
shrugged out a little rain, the sun
huffed around them, our eyeballs
beamed, an animated white.
Picnicking was rife: foragers
raided the shrubbery, old relics
handed-out hippy wisdom and we
feasted on each other, spinning
the conversational equivalent
of a Roly-Poly; living ubiquitously,
drinking a lot - I wasn’t, even once,
an arsehole, just overused memory.
When we revisited Nottingham
the gaggle had gone and the winds
came and scraped against our bones;
we are a banquet folding
into a cheese cube too many,
bellyache, that fateful feeling
of having peaked too early.
Michael Pedersen is a 25 year old poet of Caledonian stock - his inaugural chapbook 'Part-Truths' is available from Koo Press - it was listed by the Poetry Book Society and was 2010 Callum MacDonald Memorial Award finalist. His sequel chapbook 'The Basic Algebra of Buttering Bread' is available from Windfall Books - please see http://www.michaelpedersen.co.uk/.
Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017
1 month ago