Issue 18: Robert Sheppard
(Tom Raworth Memorial)

Tom Beau

                                i.m. Tom Raworth

Follow me down the gang plank

At my desk I design a mausoleum


Sinister and weirdly persistent

Behind rocks across the pool


Dead men stir like sleepers

Wriggling into velvet


There’s another poem upside down

In fiction he carries two revolvers


I get the full stop we slow the music

And slow the ache


Eyes catch the reflected

Brute force against steady rain


Is the dream mine in which

More hair scarves around her neck


And ear-breathing

When the man shoots and shouts imagine


A museological assemblage

A foxy eye out for a fox


Flies caught on a web

Rhyme with the pattern into


A tube the depraved Narcissus

Where curved boats float on air


Long shadows on the shallow sea-bed

A million dreamscapes nothing centres


With no memory of itself I spend three hours

Mixing powders and working them


He’ll shoot her to shut her up

These two were made for each other


Perhaps made out of each other they

Roar down the chord phones


Our breath our lives on hold waiting

Like the skin of milk on custard


Around my finger a cowgirl

A dealer more than a scholar


Book dust sneezed in the temperate

Sealed room slipped


Betting slips into it and later

My boy lit up the sun


Projections clear on my white shirt

Condemned to earthly life tinged


This house is shouting about itself

A hard price for a free beer but


We pay it in the morning

The monumental folly with


Fake fivers manufactured

At the back of the lecture


The sharp-faced face her sharp

Lips rhyme

Refuse the offer

Coughing up blinis after vodka

Robert Sheppard's next book is the collaborative fictional European poems of Twitters for a Lark, from Shearsman, who also publish his selected poems History or Sleep. A prose 'autrebiography', Words Out of Time, is available from Knives, Forks and Spoons. As a critic he has written on Tom Raworth's work, both in his Shearsman essay collection, When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry, and his 2005 LUP volume: The Poetry of Saying. He lives in Liverpool, and is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill University.