Don’t crawl before you can sit

Procrastination shouldn’t be such a dirty word. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing at a comfortable pace. Giant sequoias grow to nearly one hundred metres over thousands of years. The Mona Lisa took da Vinci twenty years to paint. In an ideal world, progress would be limited to that which we do when […]

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The Clay Body

A clay body, or corp criadhach, is an ancient Scottish curse. Once placed in a stream, the clay would disintegrate and with it the body of the victim whom it mimicked. Only by finding and preserving the clay body could the sufferer forestall the spell. i. Part of me loosens in a stream where mountains tumble […]

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So long, Thomas Warton

As we’re about to leave Basingstoke after nearly seven happy years, it might be appropriate to mention Thomas Warton who was born on the site of Glebe Gardens, not far from here. Warton was poet laureate between 1785–1790. This sonnet is dedicated to the River Loddon, which, now culverted in places, is said to run below ground at the […]

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St. Augustine on the poetry game

This is possibly one of the least profound purposes for quoting from Confessions of a Sinner but, nevertheless, it’s a reminder about what matters in the art: In public we were cocksure, in private superstitious, and everywhere void and empty. On the one hand we would hunt for worthless popular distinctions, the applause of an audience, prizes for […]

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Katabasis

No army marches faster. Having beaten us, the clouds dropped their arrowfall into the bay, blessing our deepest failure. News reached me on the wind. Yet more ranks of salt and hate but there I was, sharing a mind with water after months of hard dryness. Stars gleamed like arrow wounds. There was great, roiling […]

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Candles

Wax colours the grate and floorboards as the candles stream away. Two matches burn in a caldera. Their heads are charcoal. Their bodies, black along their length, anchor the flame to a melting derelict. Gone out, they are broken columns where temples stood, cluttered with burials, votives and valedictions to gods who’d raise used kindling […]

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Poets’ Corner

I dream of London’s buried waterways, how the Tyburn crashes through Westminster trammelled by culverts, a ghost of a ghost. Bury me somewhere nameless. Let the days settle underneath leaves. Open the ground, bury me deeper this time. Let me fall down where the rivers meet so I can feel the current without knowing. There’s […]

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