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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, I’ll say primrose-coloured, moths, which flinch along the hedge then turn in to hide, are Yellow Shells not Shaded Broad-bars ...
... 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 door, argue small slips and petals which still snap with love or hate although it is so dark and late ...

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 ...
... 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 ...

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 it through the kitchen ...

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 the blue glare ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 its rim, moving its long filaments through blue to orange, slowly exploring the glorious furniture ...

Blues for Titania

R.F. Langley, 24 July 2003

... down the mid-line, the Roman Street, his heart in his horn. The wasps and moths and feathers are riff-raff off the verge. Stuff for his buffet. And isn’t Isis Demeter? No mysteries in here. It’s me, hands on the wheel, and capable of brilliant wristy brushwork, if I rouse out my conceit across the blur of ...

A bird that isn’t there

Jeremy Noel-Tod: R.F. Langley, 8 February 2001

Collected Poems 
by R.F. Langley.
Carcanet, 72 pp., £6.95, January 2001, 9781857544480
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... 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 comparison. Prynne and Langley are of an age (in their early sixties) and, superficially, of a school: both are connected with the small-press poetry world centred on ...

Tall Tales

Joanne O’Leary: ‘Jackself’, 31 May 2017

Jackself 
by Jacob Polley.
Picador, 67 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 4472 9044 5
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... mobile phone pinched, and the mother who’s discovered his stab wounds: My son, you walked from Langley Lane?    I walked from Langley Lane. I took small steps and often stopped     to breathe around the pain. My son, you walked from Langley Lane.     I walked from ...

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