Issue 9: Peter Robinson's recent poems


Beyond an Edwardian lido

awaiting its refurbishments

and pumping house arched window

with biscuit-brick unevenness

here comes this swarming birdlife,

birds in defensive mode

hissing at us near their river

on the Thames path’s promenade:

they’ve mottled it in droppings

where wake-ruffled water

is maculate with sky

and pleasure boats are surging by

and me, on this swan’s way,

I turn to face the current flow

through a Sunday reverie.


No painters or a Maupassant,

but crowds in motley array

surge forward to divide

around us, like English wordplay.

Language on holiday stipples

scenes with sun splotches, shadow

daubed in the air’s ephemera

of scolded kids and kisses,

the idle drift, the ripples

from cygnets’ down, and this is

how they too pass on.


for my father (1920–2011)
‘He is not here’
Alfred Tennyson

Like he was dawdling still at the curb

outside his favorite restaurant

in Duke Street with its Chinese name,

I saw my father one last time.


The sign attached to a derelict façade,

weeds sprouted from cracked guttering

or clung between the brickwork

where buddleia phalanxes picketed its door.




Its boarded-up door, back to our past,

and us warned not to enter—

so let’s not talk about sins of the father

unless to forgive them in ourselves.


‘That isn’t him,’ the rector said,

(we were bidding farewell to his ashes)

‘He has fallen asleep in the Lord.’

Lord, let us now depart in peace …




I’d seen the July hedgerows

haemorrhaging poppies

as the heavens opened—

a jack-knifed artic causing our delay.


Yes, we’d struggled north to find

the undertakers taking him

to Anfield Crematorium

with its cold-store morgue.




Making more unscheduled journeys

again we passed the mannequins’

torsos, detached heads, limbs

hooked on a run-down warehouse wall.


Like conflicts playing out in us,

again the seagulls cried

and echoed about deserted streets

that Sunday, the week dad finally died.




Then back home from the Crem,

‘He isn’t here,’ another said

in reply to an unheard question

—United Utilities cold-calling the dead.


But look, now pigeons flutter, see,

off into that dark recession

from their perch high on its ledges

guarded by glass shards.



‘I do not attribute to nature either beauty
or deformity, order or confusion.’
Spinoza, Correspondence


Whatever lies beyond the lines

or today’s busy earth-mover,

I’m lost trying to discover


now the Number 9 tram

advances before us, its sign

seen in a summer thunderstorm.




Everything is wet with rain

out across Diemen’s one third land

and two of cloud-strewn sky;


then there come silver birch trees

lining sun-flecked water,

leaves whitened in a breeze.




But when a full moon rises

behind the river-house’s white,

sun reflects a finer light


on those stragglers left unknowing

what it might be if not this

flurry about the body’s senses—




maybe tremors from the fronds

of ash before another storm,

in reed beds, Japanese knotweed,


seeding nettles, slug plagues

(whatever goes on beyond us

and keeps going …).

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