Thursday, 29 March 2012

A possible truth

And, indeed, a slightly depressing possible truth is that many of the poetry magazines which have sustained the to-and-fro of contemporary writing over the last few decades have had their funding cut and need the support of readers more than ever. Two publications which definitely deserve that kind of support are Agenda and Tears in the Fence, both of which have offered an alternative to the constricting metropolitan orthodoxy established by a certain Penguin anthology back in the 1980s. More here: and

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Another part of At Home

The garden reeks of a season’s neglect,
the sweet, dank mould of cherry leaves,
parsimonious winter. Failing to make
amends; pigeons coo arguments
from an outhouse roof.

You ham it up by calling it regret.
The moon’s blur lights an island of cloud.
Nothing’s out of place but your self –
or that’s what you’re thinking
(if that’s your voice you hear speaking),
but it’s doing you no good.

Originally published by Various Artists; copyright Tom Phillips 2012

Friday, 23 March 2012

Says it all

Mr Gramsci has the floor ....

from At Home

Tracer fire across sand dunes works hard
to mark a limit to our enterprise.

You can balk at that possessive all you want.
In this rock pool, the stick stirs one way

and every hermit crab scuttles in the same direction.

Originally published by Various Artists; copyright Tom Phillips 2012.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Centre, Friday

This is not a place to be in at a loss:
you need wits and cash about you.
And I am a different person on these streets,
adjusting pace and expression to how
it might be possible not to stand at odds.
Common ground amongst predictable gridlock
is reduced to a concrete plaza with fountains,
Bible bashers, benches, rubbish bins:
whatever each complains of when we’ll be home.

There’s a long way to go before that.
The waterfront bellows with stag parties;
tourists affront lovers sequestered at wharf’s edge.
Negotiating the overspill from franchised bars,
there seems to be some hope for separate peace.
At the outset of Friday night, the cordon’s drawn up:
helicopter flashlights splash along the harbour.

It’s not the whole story. On the corner
by the swing bridge’s worn-through asphalt tiles,
the leaf-clogged puddles on harbourside cobbles,
you were almost in danger of kicking away
a used condom’s rubbery squiggle:
sign at least that, in this intoxicating air,
someone was tempted to believe
love was somewhere near.

Tom Phillips