Issue 9: Tim Dooley (for Peter Robinson)
It’s from a dream this landscape and I’m waiting
for some ghost of mine to jump. I know the way
it feels when floating out, the gasp at missing
jutting rocks, the trees, how long it seems to take
to reach the mindless grey. The laughter in thin air.
But here the evidence of work as well, this solid life
spent building into hills. Even this blue water
looks real as history, as hopeful in its wealth.
And it’s the real world we’re walking in, where
you can read novels about fucking and despise
how words decay. We climbed here by funicular
but, on the road, teenagers lift the throttles of
their Vespas to a pitch of monstrous dialectic.
Look, inland to where the new roads cut the valley,
or, where the land resists, break rock. Follow
with your eye commerce, its graceful directives.
It must be the air or the early sunshine but there
are lungfuls of hope inside me in spite of this world.
I came for the view that’s inside me where cities
run their smooth affairs like a socialist bus,
where work is kindly barter, a social exchange
and every cheese has flavour. I am happy
where the horizon is indistinct and news in
another language. This is quite unlike a dream.
Household Wordsfor Peter Robinson
The advertising business is about you today.
Certain investments have brought your name to our attention
and well qualified individuals have decided the lettering.
You exist as a design for carrier bags
and a reputation for quality.
I know the embarrassment of names,
suffering notoriety young thanks to Lonnie Donegan.
the voice of someone’s mother called from four floors up:
‘Tim, behave yourself!’
I must make an attempt.
I try to dress like someone involved in a serious game,
but it’s hard to make words settle down
to a serious career in marketing.
They are everywhere like uncared-for children.
There is a dream of words at peace with themselves,
lying together under glass
in the imaginary museum.
and you cannot hear a sound.
Mine shuffle along mismatched shelves,
come from under the bed like battered shoes.
The cracked radio spits them out
– orphan words
and more are coming from the street outside.
You liked it at the beginning,
then it was so many promises:
new colours of cloth and unexpected tastes.
Now they have names like Paisley or Pizza Sorpresa.
They remind you of Ulster or long delays in the post.
It was so easy with the old coinage
– something given like a climate,
your options an experimental art.
Everywhere you hope for a skyline
wiped clear of freezing sun,
affection offering her balcony
lifting you into the clear.
As if it had ever happened,
as if you woke one morning to a midsummer dawn
that offered itself as a stage.
As if you were dancing and lovely.
You want to have a way with words and an audience
Now the possible pasts accuse you instead,
the conversations fuzzy and full of regret.
What you could not decide
works inside like a malignant root.
It demands the places you’re forgetting,
the fresh page with its horrible white…
It is tunnelling towards you with corridors
you run along.
I hear breathing like delight.
You will not like the end.