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R.F. Langley

R.F. Langley’s Collected Poems came out in 2000 and a later collection, The Face of It, in 2007.

Poem: ‘To a Nightingale’

R.F. Langley, 18 November 2010

Nothing along the road. But petals, maybe. Pink behind and white inside. Nothing but the coping of a bridge. Mutes on the bricks, hard as putty, then, in the sun, as metal. Burls of Grimmia, hairy, hoary, with their seed-capsules uncurling. Red mites bowling about on the baked lichen and what look like casual landings, striped flies, Helina,Phaonia, could they be? This month the lemon,...

Poem: ‘Practical Myth-Making’

R.F. Langley, 8 October 2009

So then. Here, after all, is the old earthquake, the old horse bolting as the cyclist passes on his velocipede. I was ready for exactly that. The headlines in the paper on the table next to my breakfast setting. Nothing jumped. It came in quietly. It was too simple to be much of a person. But I could talk to it, have words with it, the Declaration of the War on France, while dust motes lazed...

Poem: ‘Videlicet’

R.F. Langley, 31 July 2008

Over the reed bed the marsh harriers cavort for spring but far up and cruising above them, a different bird, a glist, a chequin in the fiery manganese air. Their male, in his resentment, pitches to reach it where, whiter and bigger than he is, it pikes on the wind, levels on five-fingered wings, black tips, carpal-patches, which it holds fathomed for a moment then slews and slents away into...

Old vendettas, and no details of them, or whose

heads were on the spikes. I don’t want to go down this

sad, steep street, sidestepping vendors of handbags and

leather belts, only to be remembering those

flagellants. But at the bottom is a grass plot,

railings, a gate, unlocked. Look. Bas-reliefs beside

the Oratory door.Obedience shoulders

her yoke. She stoops her head, lifts her left...

It’s curfew, and I do my turn around the valley, settling down outposts of mine, the little, far- flung castles, Roche this and Rocca that. And ‘Check,’ I say, and ‘Split,’ and ‘Cover up my fire.’ I rouse my sentinels under relict clouds, happy with some altostratus and a roll of rosy billows processing off the peaks. I start the spleenwort by the...

Poem: ‘At Sotterley’

R.F. Langley, 21 July 2005

Caravaggio raises Lazarus on the Messina canvas in Room Four, where they squiny at the light that comes across from behind Christ. Maybe they think it is a snap of sun, outside the cave, in March, in Bethany.

I walk, in March, in fields, at Sotterley, and look everywhere to see the colour of the paint. Mars black, iron oxide, chlorinated copper phthalocyanie. Green and grey and sepia on the...

Poem: ‘Skrymir’s Glove’

R.F. Langley, 16 December 2004

This morning in November in the bar of the Angel there is an open fire. I tell you this so you imagine it as though the bar in the Angel were a place that has been given to itself, full of itself, filled with the things there are in here, such as the fire. Not the words but the flames. This is quite possible though you know that what you have of it, its hum and pop, could not be prior to the...

Poem: ‘Cash Point’

R.F. Langley, 3 June 2004

Took a turn or two across a plot of May, to where he saw wild thyme, some clustered oxlips, bunches of riviniana violets.

And, the way Adam put it, their bodies seemed incorporate with their names. Cobwebs, sticky on cut fingers. Tongues caught up in the sweet lexemes.

So, speaking leaves, he said: ‘Commend me to this Mistress Squash, your mother. Drive me together all you can gather....

Poem: ‘Blues for Titania’

R.F. Langley, 24 July 2003

The beetle runs into the future. He takes to his heels in an action so frantic its flicker seems to possess the slowness of deep water. He has been green. He will be so yet. His memory ripples emeralds. The wasp takes it easy. She unpicks her fabric of yellow and black, which slips from her fingers to land in the past, loop-holed, lacy, tossed off on the wing. The beetle is needled right...

Poem: ‘Still Life with Wineglass’

R.F. Langley, 21 June 2001

A wineglass of water on the windowsill where it will catch the light. Now be quiet while I think. And groan. And blink.

I am anxious about the wineglass. It’s an expert at staying awake. How can it ever close its eyes? It’s too good a defence against an easy sleep under the trees.

The wineglass stands fast in a gale of sunlight, where there is one undamaged thistle seed caught on...

R.F. Langley

Jeremy Noel-Tod, 8 February 2001

After J.H. Prynne’s weighty Poems (Bloodaxe) surfaced, like the Kraken, in high-street bookshops in 1999, the complete R.F. Langley looked like a pretty small unnumbered polypus in...

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