Monday, 21 March 2016

Creative writing

Dictionaries and guides and books
I can’t yet read are mounting up,
closing in with their unknown spaces.
My desk is a shambles. There’s nowt
in poetry (as has been said before) –
though sticking at it might bring
the kind of small change you get
from a corner shop in a different city.

Each stab at it is like running across
a contested traffic junction, trying
to buy a rail ticket in a language
that’s not your own. Occasionally,
you have to put your foot down
and there it is in every casual remark.

Tom Phillips

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


Walking along the high street
beside posters for films
I’ll never watch,
I saw the crimson wing
of a butterfly like a splash
of sunlight, a stain of blood.

Already its lustre
had disappeared
and nobody stopped –
or stooped –
to pick it like a flower.

It fell from the sky
but nonetheless survived
a thousand footsteps.

Tom Phillips

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The signs along the road

There’s something awry.
I’m coughing more than usual
and undergrowth leaf edges
are pale with blight. It’s spring
over half the continent
but shifting patterns deliver
cloudbanks only
and cold hard fronts.
We’re watching pictures
of chapped fingers hooked
through steel lattice,
unfurling rolls of wire,
some kind of bodying forth
at a convenient distance.
Or misplacing them back
into memories we’d thought
were past their sell-by date.

There’s something awry.
On flat plasma screens
tomorrow's forgotten articulate
stories that will be there
to be unearthed in future times.
For the moment, the hot air condenses
over lecterns, in passport offices,
across the lens of a camera.

Over woods that embroider
the foreshortened horizon,
buzzards or some other birds of prey
circle like lonely wolves.
Someone has spent half a day
putting up a sign to warn
of an underground infiltration tank.
There’s something awry.

Tom Phillips