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The Gaping Gulf

Mark Ford, 6 September 2007

... Cloud-capped, deserted, building and building site Exchange whispers and winks. I glide half- Asleep down the alley between them, as if Adrift on some superannuated schooner. Nearby, on another Kind of scaffold, John Stubbs gallantly raised his hat to the cheering crowd With his left hand, and blessed the Queen, while her Executioner held aloft his right ...

Viewless Wings

Mark Ford, 17 November 2016

... What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? – Isaiah 22:1 I (gulp) had to have a certain operation, and as I went under, found myself assailed by a flock of hostile pigeons, by a whole parliament of fowls, cooing hysterically – blackbirds and ospreys and screaming gulls. How daft are you! mocked a jackdaw, jabbing its beak at my groin ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 19 March 1998

... Jack Rabbit Will I ever catch up, or will I be easily Caught first? It was assumed I’d branch out With the heretics, commit a few crimes, then Suffer the decreed punishment: instead, I paused Near the knoll where the vociferous and well- Groomed gather to consider their options. I yearned To wade through buttercups and clover towards The sinister squadrons of an embattled Bourgeoisie ...

Under the Lime Trees

Mark Ford, 3 January 2013

... All that glitters is not glass, but lots and lots of it is, mused the helmeted cyclist … o you fast- spinning tyres, so delicately ridged, so like the scales of a young crocodile – avoid whatever sparkles, and that flap-hatted woman weaving her way briskly against the traffic, her hands a jiving blur as she belts out snatches of We’re justtwo little girls from Little Rock … the one who brokemy heart …in Little Rock … Are these I spy the deserving poor, fully adrift, or breast-fed bohemians (weird thought of the day!) jostling on a street corner beside an all but emptied rack of Boris bikes? Wolves living on wind, sur le Noël, mortesaison …                we do not feel the speck of dust that alights on our shoulder, nor its fatal cousin, the germ we inhale, unknowing, and cannot spit out ...

The Death of Petronius

Mark Ford, 18 December 2008

... after Tacitus) Turning to Caius Petronius, there are a few things about him that deserve To be remembered: he liked to sleep all day, then devote his nights To business – or pleasure. Most have to work hard To become well known, but it was idleness that propelled Petronius to fame. He differed, though, from most debauchee or wastrel-types, For he was a cultured, exquisite master of the subtle arts Of indulgence ...

Policing Beaconsfield

Mark Ford, 12 October 1989

... Pot-plants unwatered on the sun-deck Like moaning minnies lie down and die. Her lips have twisted into a random smile, but In her mind she curses in her mother-tongue. The room is now an inverted fish-tank; Things float helplessly up towards the glass – Her brushes, her combs, her trash, Objects it were useless even to list. Each noise fades away like forgotten Sex, its stripes etched faintly on the buzzing air ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 27 May 1999

... Reproduction of whatever you are absorbing with your five senses is forbidden, and may provoke nausea, insomnia, loss of balance or blurred vision: it were better you retire, and then attack, hurling weapons and imprecations at the diffident foe. The world averts its gaze, and unfortunate schemers drag their woes from home to muddy fields: all roads lead to rooms, as the Irish say, and to windows through which one stares at the seething clouds ...

Looping the Loop

Mark Ford, 6 July 1995

... Anything can be forgotten, become regular As newspapers hurled in a spinning are to land With a thump on the porch where Grandma sits And knits, her hound dog yawning at her feet. And other strangled details will emerge and prove Suddenly potent to confound the wary-footed, and even The assembled members of the panel; in turn Each pundit speaks, yanks from the hat an angry rabbit who flops In spurts around the circular paths of crazy paving ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 10 June 2010

... Ravished Is the night Chilly and dark? The night is chilly But not dark. An all but full April moon Slides above barely visible clouds, and is greeted By a burst of hooting from an urban Tawny owl. On empty Brownfield sites they nest, and rear their young, and feed On vermin. Has Any Probing, saucer-eyed astronomer, even a modern Or French one, ever Grown genuinely accustomed ‘aux profondeurs du grand Vide céleste’? Someone halts, and broods In the deserted doorway of a Chinese Emporium, someone Is struggling to rise swiftly From his chair ...

Gregory of Nazianzus

Mark Ford, 11 February 2010

... stretched out on the grass, and tried to relax. A delightful breeze stirred his beard but his ear-canals ached, and his tongue felt bloated. While there is blood in these veins, he mused, and I can hear the murmur of leaves, and sparrows sing, I will not despair. He half-dozed, and in a waking dream relived the despair that had seized him during a stormy voyage from Alexandria to Athens ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 8 February 2007

... Dominion Rise up! we heard their war-cry – Levitation! the trembling leaves kept sighing – Levitation! Then Hurry Harry abandoned the way of the raccoon and beaver, and felt his heart whirled aloft by some hand or talon: Oh no more, he reasoned, will I scramble blindly between settlement and clearing, mocked by the melancholy loon. Off, off, again off, ye buckskin garments! How it glints, my rifle, in the sun, as it arcs towards the lake ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 3 September 1987

... Last to Go Things not necessarily funny will stick in the memory, like recipes for success, or how one once stood up laughing, happy, a chip off the old block; and I too, some days, rise, the applause of the dying committee still ringing in my ears, addressing absent friends, and those present, for better or for worse, the tears now pouring openly down my ravaged face ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford, 6 January 2000

... One Figures in his plans, but briefly, as a cupped hand holds water, or as private and public spheres collide and blur, overlap within his fragile, omnivorous stare. Barely awake, dazed and blinking, I was urged under solemn oath to consider the lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin. Hallelujah, I meant to answer, selah, only a seething, surf-like roaring in my ears seemed to engulf then drown both question and pause; twitching open the drapes I glimpsed the faint sodium halo of a street lamp through a tangle of jagged, spiny boughs ...

Poetic Licence

Mark Ford, 21 August 1997

Words for the Taking: The Hunt for a Plagiarist 
by Neal Bowers.
Norton, 136 pp., £12.95, March 1997, 0 393 04007 0
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... on my pants or levitating two foam cups of coffee, and I can’t find him anywhere, that beat-up Ford gone. Sumner’s variations are never more than minimal; he emends Bowers’s ‘black highway like a chute’ to ‘black highway like a funeral ribbon’, and his ‘hands locked dead on the wheel’ to ‘hands like Vise Grips on the wheel’. He changes ...

Flirting with Dissolution

Mark Ford: August Kleinzahler, 5 April 2001

Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems 1975-90 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 82 pp., £8.99, September 2000, 0 571 20428 7
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... through the cliffs to the river and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt. Kleinzahler may here seem to assume the all-registering consciousness of the Williams of Paterson, but Williams felt compelled to develop some kind of representative – even epic – meaning out of Paterson’s history, while ...

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