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.
DIMINISHING RETURNSfor my father (1920–2011)
‘He is not here’
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
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.
PROVINCIALEWEG‘I do not attribute to nature either beauty
or deformity, order or confusion.’
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 …).