Issue 17: Ian Patterson

True Rendition

If I were to forget the rest in a breakdown of law

I’d choose obscurity despite my skin showing up

when it occurs. I’d lie on a table or a drawer

waiting to be slid away and give others the chance

to stumble belatedly or to stay for a long time

with no need at their core after all the drives

               towards this trope of true rendition

Later to pass darkly or enter the head by

distance from the line of the feeding mind—

as a meditation rose it is right to add infinity

for a thousand pounds of portable property

a sort of land reduced to the eye in a fine

melancholy lot of mangled limbs and dying with

               foods like sugar to lament and snipe at

Nothing sacred about doing this only in

connection in that form so slight in itself

less than one, it can be no question of

what one knows—in that it has to be given up

as a thing certain of itself as regards contentment

but clumsy with scorn and full of the simple world

               fallen free from the contrary side

For all to see a disposable system I had thought of

at the sharpest time to find schism-failure, doughy

names and baby shelters all immaterial after all—

it faces the past starting up again inside people, imitable

by none too close to the same ground white and hot

tips too many spills I mean to let it be white or not

               as it seeps in to my other ears

A phone cries —Innocents, shall we look

more drawn or flat to protect me here or shall we just

mean much faster? Can we? Any time over all this

gone to utter rest for a turn about turn over

and dial it out over a dull red mix. Please no

respecter of portions, grafted or bummed a quid here

               to sustain repeat blooms

Now see an old yellow cloud hovering around

the throat of art to stop around the handle

and listen to rude sounds like porn milk and jasmine,

a frame never boiled up to a kitchen idea. Nothing

really happened, after all. No pin, no gin. Poetry regained

confidence in the brassy and infinite like finches

               round a feeder squabbling

Free Amble

Dry light to boost grave legal taste of the writing, why one point be

   fucked, embodied in an idea like hand, meaning its mark system

Claim free claim protected, why one should keep the idea to pot

   before one rotten break too fast and get just as far on real charm

Cut away life in cruel age order fluently, a common thing

   held far back it comes in branch maxims, a most articulate nutshell

Marry and get them slow hawthorn and pots of cold grass

   covered with out of work grit no plug on her plastered teeth

To lose the last nail, soon belting out to the waste pale and felt

   wild and soapy a second blot far from light, his empty eyes grin

Wet to a pit rigged down at his horn master, the dead bloom

   about the child to catch a house through the wood turns down

You should know a ram on the line and on his father’s arm grating

   says she needs a little farce with tongs, her plot delivered from years

Eleven now non other boote to catch fog in a mirror or piano bubbles

   a wet knot and shit rather than face flies in the face cut and past him

And what else wipes spirit so dull that malady would strike and roar and fire

   and vanish in dark air, a sharp nest killed and dressed to so forsake my home?

A Bit Part

Deceptive struggles take the leaves

            to wipe a story on a body whiter than

the forest air about her even in her cage

            his failure like cold tea and cotton wool

to flinch from the bed in darkness

            come up still without part now for the night

liquid as well as clutching light can take it

            for the price at the back he might have said

feel unlit dry stones about them by the wire

            so it seemed to be part of a clock so by the sea

got up back in a wet spring for the regret

            by the wood between the snow shifting

so falls a more sibilant one on the phone, falls

            from the house to strip a tap behind my eyes

who had no feeling of hanging down again

            simply on a beginning of the end at this fury

split himself and others within himself

            straight to touch hopes and actual purposes

fed by labour: if you met him he might have been

            the self to come like Faust in these sleeves

mad about sheep and wind on the land only he

            can say more with mud and gravel for the idea

of simple words of himself hard on a fountain

            drains his memory for the rest, the part he is

Northern Line

Never prickly air in the world was a late cry

shining to silence different ways you like

much before it was only matters, you know

Well, this was how what had got a little line

when pausing was her manner on fire, he saw her

cosmic and misread, imposed on more waste dread

Too often hearing of a puff of good reason opening

a balance after he had no heed in a blur or two

hitched to the unforeseen rain through to the ashes.

Never lie even at very abstract letters, type a quick

look and go south admiring his nib with a rustle out of

the loop with a view, say, down the Euston Road

Lines from a garden had the air of a leaf edge

rested round a pink wash pegged for ages in sight

as if I was a live grassy recipe like a new skin

I didn’t say anything, brooding chords in mid air

quivering into a state of mind that declined all day

while the dark unsaid was too small and slipped to the floor.

In so much care for all the time to expect each round

word let’s set up a pity of the shell, gone far to be found

after dark in the blink of a birdless turning life vision.

By the Banks of Grim Margin

As I walked out on a glimmer of linnet chat

another branch of the unjust mingled with silence

at the front again don’t trust a writer in shades

of blue the last moments of a level blue glacier

by transit with them distant from himself with them

between himself as on that very first day. We used

to have a house he said that skimmed the surface of men

to condemn the last set piece in blue pencil. If words

that cut like steam were all spirit all in play why

arm the flesh, why lick the skirt in your hand in a

corner cut to pieces? Only so as to lie still again

as an old log dead and found fit to work some dream

suspended over script like payment for time saved

by the banks of grim margin. It must be the last day.


On a street on a wall with him and without him

or are we part of that word wandering? His feet

knowing had been through one place to another

for no one knew in that going only just the street

to look away fallen to the city, our need close by.

Keys of language, the liberties I heard would help

her because a world will never remit the one door

that level open rest over so far and so many weeks

of raw majority no bare earth or grub for food or

water by word or gesture not what she has left.

Destined to become is a negative worn down by

blood as we say as we were due to come home

we could no longer no longer remain on the earth

when we left them for dead in limpid water and

all it is said to offer and disintegrate and nail us.

It was not kind, a poisonous leak of hope as a

direct hit on need and fault and what can’t help

who or what in knots of wire like faces and faces

like wire full of distance complete and near grief

to explode over again no chance to bind the cut.

To trim up for refuge brimmed grief so to hand

and always to fall back to harm of the living, as

we were born and are deep in us in the world as

a flight from what it is to what it is and find no

respite set in motion but fear of dying out of it.

                                                 (6 October 2016)

Ian Patterson still teaches English at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he is now also Garden Steward. His most recent books are Time Dust (Equipage, 2015) and Still Life (Oystercatcher, 2015).


Copyright © 2016 by Ian Patterson, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.