Issue 20: Lawrence Upton

Look Up

              from Trethewey, West Penwith

Spread of one colouring, texture giving

advantage to another texture, colouring it

and so losing the advantage...

What colours! Edges fly against edges,

buckling and breaking themselves fragmenting

and they collide and combine, much as new,

much as the new waves overhaul retreating waves

at the fluttering frontier of beach and collapsing sea;

splashes and smears variegate the sky;

and, in the middle, battered by strong wind,

a swirl of an insubstantial centre

which might well seem to control the whole space,

a hole in it of ruin and emptiness

which does seem filled by powerful elements

ready to recombine, not subject to

external and considerable control

surrounding a settled area of grey on grey;

a little person who is chemically high

right in the midst of a crowd pretending calm;

a city on fire, blinding, a glitter of lights,

the collapse of a tenuous system working

which will soon malfunction, shunning command,

the consequence of ideology

ignoring political dialogue. Noise.

Look Up

              from Norwood Junction

as in a thick sea mist

the middle of the floor


                                                                                      and nobody

and nobody but this figure disappearing to one side

one imagines him speaking defiantly

if you want your –

your – the sentence doesn’t finish

we do not release each other, he says

inside the white, drifting, unseeable detail

unsealed and usable

he’d –

                                                                               he was.

he was – the sentence is the life

it can be shaped

and he can’t be

he says: don’t ever

he says: can’t be with that

he says: take my many

he is beginning to glint godlike

            as one might imagine that

many times he has it

exactly right

suffering and pink

sections of remembering

he says: how you – we – talked about –

how you happen to – you love

you went, to you, for you, when you

because you…

and then he says: take your many

and then it all dissipates

Look Up

              from Crugkern #2

a boar breaks out of a granite boulder

a fish with a clown's mask pushes through a block of ice cream

the ice cream drives down the back of the fish’s head and slithers

                                                                                                                  and swims upstream

a swan throws itself into the air, all water specks and arse

five bread rolls on a surface

a head turning

and turning more

degrees than

circular, each

facing timber

hands throw out of a tree not linking

a mouse splits into constituent parts

bubble packed for ever


two words

reefs in shallow water

one word is long and flat

the other approaches cubic

which stands well out of waves

and yet, now, it's gone, both gone

one above the other

below or above another

beside one beside t'other

and each part unlike each other

a knife moves towards a brain

the brain divides into a complex of 2 & 3 & 1

becoming scissors.

blades which

separate &

show themselves

the body of a sheep

defending young

eyes of insects

that's one word

another's shattering

that is a third

but it is a white, horse-head dragon

roaring conflagration

these three

form a triangle


a chimney, as it takes flight, forms a bird's head

to threaten words with beak scythe

words are all froth

even the sea is breaking

words in a tide, a gain,

words in a tide

mumbled words

heads and necks of cautious seals

one word above another word

beside two words beside each other

all underlined

something with eyebrows as big as its jaws,

so full they partly cover its mandible,

leaps, biting the air, towards a cartoon pig

there is fire and smoke – perhaps dry ice – the pig recoils

a navy helicopter buzzes the logan stone

the monster disappears into backwoods

the flying machine moves on

all’s quiet

Look Up

              from A tram from West Croydon to New Addington

Sheet metal stretched across a hemisphere

which turns through something like a rectangle

so that we head beneath dark cover.

It is quiet in the human fields today.

Individuals wander here chewing.

Some wait in pens, others by gates, obeying.

Little fights do start, but soon end. Few die.

Time passes, counted in standard increments

by those who care; and products are sold on.

In the unprotected parkland, theories

are developed, which explain and comfort,

ensuring no one does anything sensible.

Slowly we disappear into darkness,

filmed on cctv for safety tics.

Lawrence Upton is a poet and graphic & sound artist Some commentaries on Bob Cobbing (2013). He co-edited Word Score Utterance Choreography in Verbal and Visual Poetry (1998) with Bob Cobbing, with whom he also made Domestic Ambient Noise, spanning 300 pamphlets totalling more than 1800 pages and taking over 6 years to complete (1994-2000).

              20 + text-sound compositions with John Levack Drever.

              Second solo exhibition (“from recent projects”) September 2012, London. Made photo, synthesis (for solo viola) on commission to Benedict Taylor (2013) (Subverten CD).

              Convenes Writers Forum Workshop (since Cobbing’s death in 2002). Academic member Athens Institute for Education and Research. Email: