Gavin Selerie


World Levered on One

for Peter Riley

A smock. A shed. Tilting shelves. A scrap of bone with scratched lines. Glasswort in a jar. Inkblots on the table. A Floyd sleeve behind anglepoise. Set of Perfect Bound, incomplete. Soprano Lol with recorder echoes. Personality in things to hand.

Slip into poetry. There's no gain in a lash of progress, crowded words in a huddle, sensation-stanzas. Watch what goes on. Barnack blocks to red-streaked brick. Willows overhanging a gravel path, the river's curve. Make a record of plants, eaten or avoided. Spiky, slimy, silky. Maybe skip what allegory wants to tell.

Fresh delves by chance or choice. Intention not to fit when all at last obeys. Undulate leaf, rain-flushed. A sunshiny moment out of sullen fits. A charm for thorn pricks. Gate motet. Baffling corridor where a cycle stands. Area railing spears. Memory of other passages and ritual past decorum. In a city of towers and courts the road beckons. What scope for terms demoded. To walk is to write, the stamp it would puzzle to improve.

Birth from horizon to map with smoke and steam. Near-stopped nerve in the northern hub. As if fed through cot bars a darting artillery. Never forget those shadows. Dream an unchained body marching to a sweeter tune under torn and bannered clouds. Spots cohere in waste, wilderness. Hollow trunk of an oak with withered arm. Dies into earth to be plucked, with shells white as dog's teeth. That eastern print asks where, tug of woods or sea. A bittern booming in the reed shaws. Railways sleepers, well tarred, over the dyke between marshes.

Little knot of word-forcers or great dispersed band, down the years, across territory. We reads a version of I. Stranger-mates who chafe, dispute, revel with meat, wine and fire. Cluster to bring the still, solo act into gutsy, holy jabber. Precious stock, pressed or helped into view. Corantos, intelligence, running-on Relations. Some in trust will make the poem better. Faces gleam in the room upstairs, defying speakers for the thing itself. Regulars, wits and bums weigh the founding sentence. And quiet by letter as on stark paths the probe of life goes on. A gift of breath to mark an occasion, a figure of notes to bless or curse, a prospect on turf, the ordinary unexhausted.


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