Issue 9: Tim Dooley (for Peter Robinson)

Above Genoa

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 Words

for 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.

Only recently

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.

‘Stringency’ ‘luxuriates’

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.

The Page

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

that smiles.

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.