Friday, 15 January 2010

Two revised poems

The Air Display

Jetstream mirage and the taste of kerosene
is how it might start across the field,
or a Hawker Hunter hanging on a stall turn,
its chevron tailfin roundel against clouds.
Armed with bulbous candyfloss,
we’re walking between disputes,
provenance issues, these tanks
too often repaired, no longer ‘authentic’.
Redundant fighters’ afterburners sear
the early afternoon like rough nostalgia,
aerobatics over middle England.

And still it is easier to find a name
for Venom, Tempest, Fury
or how we might be expected to feel
about splintered tree-lines,
sand-bursts across that combat zone,
than for patterns of thought
in these actually occurring vapour trails
which backdrop one last fly-past:
impervious Spitfire, engine growling,
over woods and out of the sun.

Beginning with Palma

This is where a poem might start out,
here, on this terrace curtained with rain,
a Mediterranean afternoon
stifling with sweat and Ducados.
The cathedral’s too drab for a ticket
(history priced out of the market)
and you won’t find time to trace
intermittent carnival noise
to its roiling, gaudy source.

So never mind that you can’t recall
the word for it or put a name
to that face which insolently
stares from each window you look in.
Those booted boys – or others –
will be there the same tomorrow,
conveniently just out of focus,
details for your composition,
sketches for your Hemingway phase.

Is this boredom or fear? On the far side
of the rain, the Guardia Civil
patrol a cobbled, almost-empty street.
Keep your eyes peeled, they’d suggest.
You have, of course, and found them wanting.
The carnival’s moved on. Would you reach
for coins left lying on the ground?
You might do, if it didn’t mean
leaning over, wetting your hand.

Tom Phillips

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