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Boathouse

The room a slipway, gulley of wheels
for onerous keel. Flurry of pinboard,

wall-racked kayaks. A tender launched,
submerged by two fishermen,

motoring lichen sound on glass.
Men took pots on-board a fishing boat,

the tender rose continuous with their leap.
Strict rope switched and the buoy waits,

twitches pink like lobsters wait in the frilly sea.
Pulled out, pull one part and all parts are pulled:

the cage on the deck, sea on deck,
men no longer waiting on the cages.

Silver Wattle

At our corner table we slid to the floor outrageous.
On the street we hugged goodbye, February sunshine

fell on our shoulders, yellow Road Salt containers,
lit mustard mannikins in shop windows.

I drove through Cheltenham missing big houses.
A small pet straining a lead my phone messaged

the death of a close friend, closer still to a friend close to me.
In florist buckets on the road branches cut from the gardens.

Mrs Dalloway arranged her window. White tablecloth.
Opened dying faster wider sulphurous palette petalled umber.

On Parabola Road two roof-top magpies bent close,
that attracted shimmer could make the other’s summer come.

Before I Write

October and craneflies squat in sinks
trail frail shadows on blank walls.

Three speculative Robins outside
and not one fighting. Songs of birds

left for Africa still sung by birds
left behind. Mid-afternoon feels like

being old must feel. House wall-trained,
withstanding frost, stands a hardy fruit

named ‘Amber Reach’. I should be
Edith Sitwell, hideous yet unashamed.

My illness is bad choices, lariats of starlings.
I need big predators back, dinosaurs,

to add edge and spice, to eat me.
I do not write how I feel:

‘One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee’.
That I write at all is the consolation.

Each envelope a slit of air, I yield, I succame,
I succumb to the stack’s papery exhalation.

I write but not of him or I at all,
frail letters stick to paper like swat flies:

‘Such lucky birds, such company,
not fazed by this influx of unseasonal snow’.

Manners

Rude paint, pushing out
everything else. The brainless magenta
hot-wired with falsehood. Stand back:
The Artiste. Chartreuse is unconditional but has
no humour. Oh cats, the confusion of

cats. Denying presence won’t make it
go away and like you I refuse to be arrow
light with vacuousness. I am
illiterate, liberated and keep
shouting. Copy from an original

masterpiece— a spectre
protected in return for generous
bequests. Or real life: stale, recalled to the
factory— magnificently
textured. Who will stop me

sinking down through the
flood plain without separation,
litigation? My door and my face you had seen
every day— I think that means
everything. I was standing still in

London, with nothing for me. I feel now
I did not do that. Your joy into gardens,
mine into paint. Likely to be water the
orange— withdrawing from the centre like
boredome, stabilising the space with

forks, and bird’s tails. Unlike level
authentic, the stable shapes: spheres on the
ground, dimmed behind the violet
screen: small men; skinny
bodies; straight and normal people.

Skulling

Indiscreet location, rope swung cargo down
to its shadow on a farm. Level with

the A-road, miles to go round— the leaning barn’s a shrub, ivy
-leant, time

-leant. Thinking something coming humanly I wait.

Restful fields are snooker felt, soothing pocket clunk
red post red post red prior to successive colour:

blackbird dart upon the crocus wood.

I mind less
the way he holds my head because his beard is the way I like,

blacker than his mother’s head.
Strong hold skull roll to the horns long time dying the buck in his arms.

Split-stone rainbows cut the mud I reckon.

Cactus

Tricky little chats— like potting-on
cacti: ‘They’ll not spoil another inter-species coupling’. A thumb-split orange in the
audience will fume the enclosure. Hard to count dolphins when the pod
alternates emerging from the pool.

Serene Katharine, Ms. Hepburn— a shining bucket. Like a cat she
reverses through the tingling brush. Bitter as
burnt oil, it will be her right
to kill any animal she so wishes, water sliding off her back as a miniature

roar of thunder. The conservatory will brim with little chats, swelling
drinking between droughts. Increasing,
incrementally, arranged along high shelves, the
smallest at the end will ponder the tricks of, or the results of, elongated perspective.

© All text and images belong to Sean Swallow. All work is protected by copyright.