A small army pressed into service
from capline to baseline
marching smartly across the page
some with proud embellishments
on standard issue typeface
a swash here a serif there
tracking tightly in different formations
ablazed with wor(l)d building directives
trailing bullet points in their wake
& a single orphan.
Not whitewashing my name
means I have to proffer a new one
so the barista can call out
something pale and watery
like half-strength English breakfast
to wash down the fluffy scones
made from full cream
Esc to a new pg where
we speak the same language
there’s no full stop
just a sliding
into the next line
Ctrl alt delete
if we make a blot
you can leave white spaces
and I can still read you.
L’esprit de l’escalier
How many times have you succumbed
to the wit of the staircase
a belated retort on the way out?
prepared for Wildean whimsy
so sly of mouth smirk of face
but your coat-tails are caught on the door
your foot trips on a wobbly nail
more ripped than riposte
bons mots scattering
in freefall like broken marbles
across the lining floor.
Xylophonic tinkles across the water these gentle chimes on bobbing boats what rivulets of fate led us here tonight? Awed quiet at this gentle symphony of dark air and music the panorama so finely curated it could be an exhibition of balance the liquid horizontal the solid vertical and later cold to warmth the body of water domesticated to a bathtub the faraway city lights now a flickering candle a contraction from all the vastness of the world to just you opposite me foreshortened and I can feel contentment filling me up like corpuscles in a vein and life is atomised to this very heartbeat.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 20, 2021 as "Five poems".
A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.
Letters & Editorial