Immigrant Spring Poem:
When the [ ] sings before dawn
from the branches of the [ ]
the blue [ ]s unfurl
while grey [ ]s circle in the skies
At the rear of West Street an old estate wall. The buildings impinge upon each other, a stairwell into the neighbour room, a cellar under a different space. What’s now the garage used to be a bakery (the house was a fishmongery).
From the Ham Marshes you can navigate by the church spire: Faversham’s open frame, visible from Hollowshore, the Shipwright pub.
clap hands to make the young bulls move on
(other side of the lovers’ gate)
In the stationers I view maps on the first floor, viewed myself by the security camera. The shop’s proprietor comes upstairs and pretends to do odd tasks but is really just making extra sure I don’t steal anything.
Sometimes it seems this whole small world belongs to the National Trust and you will be able to buy preserves and tea-towels at the kiosk afterwards.
send photographs to various people,
of this house, its particularity,
the warp in the floor, the curvature of walls
the poets are mostly silent, things close down at Lent
Painting which looks as if it’s made through gritted teeth isn’t the only kind that’s worth attention. (1943)
To give yourself completely to what you’re doing while simultaneously watching yourself do it – that’s the hardest of all for those who work by instinct. (1912)
back lanes to the Chart Gunpowder Mill
following the creek through Davington
then uphill to the cricket ground
overlooking the Almshouses.
Davington Pond, the allotments,
the back of a supermarket
clear nettles and dead leaves from the path
(these leftovers from last year)
take the doors off their hinges
(useless doors to the living room
detach of their own accord when opened)
Distanced from Kenneth Slessor and Christopher Brennan, the latter more of an acquired taste (not mine). You have to admire Slessor for the way he worked in isolation. None of his friends had the faintest idea of what he really thought; the poems got by them through force of their author’s personality (none of them would have countenanced Eliot). I keep thinking of Slessor playing Douglas Stewart a Kurt Weill record. Stewart thought it was a practical joke. But why does Slessor erupt here?
Of all noxious animals too the most noxious is a tourist. And of all tourists the most vulgar, illbred, offensive and loathsome is the British tourist.
- Francis Kilvert (1870)
at Knole, the weight of history,
the rotting canopy of a four-poster
those fearsome kings and clerics
– enough to bury Vita Sackville-West
were she given the chance
(how could Knole
for lunch, Shoreham,
a fold in the North Downs,
– no trace
of Samuel Palmer, the most excellent
a footpath, signed
under ten feet of water
further up the road,
its mosaics and hot baths out of place
in this landscape
the approach to Dartford,
chapels lost with infill
day of the exploding coffee-pot
At Winchelsea, the site of a windmill destroyed in the storms of 1987, as the fallen trees of Knole, only a grindstone and some foundation slabs next to a trig point up above the marshes.
Ford Madox Ford’s house,
in a back street (the town
strangely without shops; a pub
that pretends to have lunch reservations)
Rye, choked with traffic,
a haze across the marsh
Bank Holiday: a motorcyclists’ convention
from Rye Harbour, Camber Sands
dotted with bathers, the nuclear plant
write, he said,
poetry, that sense
follow sound, not
the quagmire of
this this (as if
you knew it, what
it was. instead it’s
a chain of un-
connection, a place
for which there’s no
vocabulary, a set
of images, not
the one sharp thing, the
light in this room
nebulous, the space
between other things.
bluebells, tulips, climbing plants (honeysuckle), a holly bush that needs pulling out
cinerarias, potted, in the window
a car alarm in the Faversham night
what dumb music?!
and the days go by . . . and the days go by
(why I am not a painter)
pull out the holly, roots deep
how much of this
an idea, not a thing
(though ideas are things)?
a finger, trimmed
makes for shaky writing
spring, season of accidents
(incident / accident, it’s
all the same in Italian)
(the geranium incident)
the Bird, or
the Bishop’s Finger
I’m all thumbs
settling after, to read
the origins of disco,
subversions of dance
things that happened
while I gazed at my shoes
The world of these first years in Nice is a world behind glass . . . the world infinitely repeated in a kind of insistent, existential loss. As if the light one had to obtain resulted in nothing but solitude, and demanded a fatal renunciation.
– Dominique Fourcade on Matisse
cuttings, dead leaves
from two seasons back
now open, yellow,
streaked with red
a fragment of glass
under the end ridge tile
take the sun, before
it disappears behind
a neighbour chimney
signs of life: clematis
the chimney shade angles
across the terrace, light
full on the wall
with the hanging rose
heavy scent of malt
from Shepherd Neame
a fine evening
and a very quiet night ahead
. . . the house was still
(a children’s book read in the bar)
Sitting in the yard this afternoon I’m beginning to be convinced that I’m actually here for the foreseeable future.
(the garden still
and quiet, save the drone of a bumble-bee)
help! I’m becoming a Georgian!
(nature and the pub tempered by cyberspace)
gillyflowers high on the walls
this is where I live
this is who I am
a television ‘black hole’
(our place in its midst)
Madness! I mean Madness, not
madness (playing in the bar)
North Sea wind takes the warmth
out of the warmth
opposite Front Brents, photographing mud
am I losing weight?
are friends electric?
could I make a book
The response to Matisse’s work: that it looked terrible, but then everything around it started to look dull. Then, almost at the moment of acceptance his work was seen as retrograde, the Cubists and Surrealists had seen to that (though Breton had earlier championed him). The paintings done in Nice in the 1920s, products of existential terror viewed as comfortable domesticity.
Hilary Spurling attributes Matisse’s twenties ‘orientalism’ as much to the developing cinema industry in the South as to earlier visits to North Africa. The drapes and ‘sets’ within the apartment owed as much to the sets observed out in the streets.
a suicide bomber in Bagdhad’s parliament
mysterious death of bee colonies
the ‘terror’ is a constant (the 1970s a lapse, otherwise
it’s been this way since 1914)
out on the stones (the tiles?),
a sheltered place in the yard
(no thinning here of the bee population)
the profusion of plants, their shapes,
reminds of Albrecht Dürer,
that obsessive detail (Dürer
or a spliffed up Billy Jones)
smoke from an unknown source
(farmers burning off, still?)
An afternoon spent on an Islington balcony to the distant sounds of Arsenal, the tube crowded later with red shirts. Today, in the heat, to Chilham, a walk through Godmersham Park and back through Ridge Wood, carpeted with bluebells. Mail from Ken. An article from the Adelaide Monthly on the appearance of a certain French painter – Mr Goggin – from the South Seas, visiting Masonic contacts early in 1903.
bird tracks on
Wordsworth nosing through
the shallows of art (the revised
a flimsy excuse
lying in this bed, naked at 10 pm,
the room still hot
to step into
the other side of the glass
painted on by Loma Bridge
where has the bravado
of the 1970s gone?
Found, as a placemark in Louis MacNiece’s Collected Poems, a receipt from Tranby Aboriginal Cooperative.
The train approaches London. Quickly. Slowly.
A duck on the garage roof, and one below in the yard (yesterday morning a group of mallards asleep in the middle of Thomas Rd).
The last light
in the upstairs bedroom
in the Anchor, end of Abbey St
reading maps of Brighton/Hove
positioning roads and villages
observed from the train,
the way their relationship alters
between view and diagram
black ink appears grey
on yellow paper
the darkness is absorbed
leaving a penumbra on the page
a long gallery between bars
appears as a mirror image
but the space is actual (the chairs
are different, a lampshade
not reflected elsewhere.
one clear window amid the frosted
views the street towards the town centre,
past the house of Arden
(Arden of Faversham)
Stonehenge from a distance appears like a replica of itself; around the standing stones the lesser verticals of tour groups.
haze, descending into Somerset
at Beer Head, the cliffs, red and white
the distant wreck of the Napoli
cranes in position, listing to starboard off Branscombe beach
Ottery St Mary, the green man
and the elephant man, both
beneath the painted cross-beams of the church
(clover, stars and fleurs-de-lis),
the clock a calendar, various members
of the Coleridge family
crushed leaves of dock alleviate the sting of nettles
obsessive ceilings (the Victorians
particularly the Arts and Crafts types
at Knightshayes, these
boarded over only years after completion,
discovered a century later
the Victorians cushioned by stuff
the bric-a-brac of empire, this
maybe the true origin
of modernism and ‘postmodernism’:
things forced into genre
After which we are lost on the roundabouts and one-ways of Tiverton, forced to travel south when we want east.
Things grow measurably the three days we’re away.
It’s the anniversary of the Kinder mass-trespass. Various accounts appear in the papers. Yorkshire singer Mike Harding organises a concert. But one reviewer notes that the legacy of open country is its current takeover by the middle-class. Indeed this is true (expensive real-estate, the tone of NT and Heritage literature). The working classes who may have had a shack near the beach found themselves threatened with demolition orders for desecrating the landscape. And it’s now expensive to leave town (outrageous rail fares &c). The trespass can only carry its legacy where it remains possible to walk out of a city.
it’s a difficult transition
into this mannered landscape,
but do I mind my own nuances?
John Forbes! where are you now!
and how would you situate yourself
amidst this: the consequence
(that some of ‘us’
Windrush and Earl’s Court
and so it goes
annoying columnists and book reviewers,
or rather our predecessors do, or did
(not me, not my good intentions)
Walk through the dull backblocks of Faversham parallel to the Whitstable Road. Cross the railway and through fields, rape, hops and corn, to the church at Goodnestone. The path loses itself on a modern farm. Ford a small stream, then up a hill alongside cherry trees and across the motorway to Fostal and Hernhill, its village square. Through the Mount Ephraim Gardens to Boughton and a bad pub (The Queens’s Head).
No matter how accurate the map there’s always a point where you get lost.
recipes, lists, dream journals
Upstairs at 8.15 am, the Kent earthquake. 4.5 on the Richter scale, epicentre: Folkestone. Then a walk from Selling station up through orchards to Perry Wood. Along a ridge, views out to Lees Court (W) and (S) over Shottenden, the rape fields.
birch, holly, rowan
Down a steep slope then up another to view an earthwork, then down into Selling itself, through Gushmere, and across the railway to Boughton Church. Then through a golf course to the village.
how diffuse the light, a bright blue day
with cold northerly gusts
move to the south side of the house
from which to watch, but not feel the briskness
the sway of a fruit tree two doors up
a small dog, nails
slipping on floorboards
the light hangs around
as I check maps, locations for tomorrow’s walk
the minimum of drear infill
Our house was once one half of next door which is now half of the door after, if that makes sense. The original wide doors no longer open, due to subsidence. This is the origin of ‘flying freehold’ (their cupboard opens onto the wall of our stairs; the internal entry to the cellar is theirs, the external ours – a new internal built subsequently). The old beams mostly salvaged from ships, hence the curved shapes and the slots for cross timbers. The ships predating the building a century or more (deforestation already a problem?).
a puma, rumoured once