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Robin Robertson, 19 February 2004

... meet me where the sun goes down meet me in the cave, under the battleground meet me on the broken branch meet me in the shade, below the avalanche meet me under the witch’s spell meet me tonight, in the wishing well meet me on the famine lawn meet me in the eye of the firestorm meet me in your best shoes and your favourite dress meet me on your o ...

Hanging Fire

Robin Robertson, 20 August 1998

... The impatience for summer is desire: ritual, imbedded hard as a hinge in the earth’s mesh. From the papery bulb, the spurred, flesh-green horn pushes, straining for air; flexes its distended, perfect, cleft muscle out and up through the crust. Then the deeper sleep of August, ninety degrees of hanging fire: the yellow lawns, the blighted flowerless trees, the malformed leaves sticky with sarcoma; the only sound the hot, rhythmic tick of tarmac ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 8 July 2004

... Wormwood A flight of loose stairs off the street into a high succession of empty rooms, prolapsed chairs and a memory of women perfumed with hand-oil and artemisia absinthium: wormwood to me, and to the sappy Russian sailors, chernobyl. The scooped-back ballroom gown shows the tell-tale bra-strap: red, tired, losing its elasticity. ‘Leave it,’ my maths master used to say at a dropped pencil, ‘it can’t fall any further ...

Circus on Calton Hill

Robin Robertson, 18 April 1996

... Edinburgh burns below us, this blazing day where flame’s invisible, a dark wave lapping at the petrol’s grain, as the fire-eaters assuage their thirst. The fanned embers of the city rustle like the wrappers of sweets; heat tinkering in the coal. Sitting under the colonnade, we are so close we almost touch. Tumblers flip and flex, desultory on the dry grass; gulls channer in the stunned heat, shedding air above us and over the baking Craigleith stone, to bank away to the airish Firth and Inchkeith Island, the Ferry and the May ...

Three Poems

Robin Robertson, 6 September 2001

... False Spring A lift in the weather: a clemency I cling to like the legend of myself: self-exiled, world-wounded, god of evenings like this, eighty degrees and half a world away. * All night, the industry of erasure, effacement, our one mouth working itself dry. * But even a god can’t stop the light that finds us, annealed, fruitless, two strangers broken on the field of day ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 21 October 2004

... On Pharos Four hollows and four seal-skins on the beach, by a cave, their stink undercut by the faint scent of ambrosia; some tracks, of wild boar and panther; the scales of a serpent; the hair, perhaps, of a bearded lion; torn leaves from a tree when there were no trees anywhere near; and, round a puddle of fresh water, scorch-marks in the sand and the signs of a struggle ...

By Clachan Bridge

Robin Robertson, 29 November 2007

... For Alasdair Roberts I remember the girl with the hare-lip down by Clachan Bridge, cutting up fish to see how they worked; by morning’s end her nails were black red, her hands all sequined silver. She simplified rabbits to a rickle of bones; dipped into a dormouse for the pip of its heart. She’d open everything, that girl. They say they found wax dolls in her wall, poppets full of human hair, but I’d say they’re wrong ...


Robin Robertson, 6 October 1994

... In the greatness of the flame he gave up the ghost Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, XI The poplars are emptied at dusk like blown matches. A gust frees and scatters the leaves in their last blaze: the bronze husks catch and cartwheel round and down the street to the park in the smoke of a dark autumn, from the thin, extinguished trees. In the small lake, what had once been water now was seamed with smoke, marbled and macular, dim and deep as wax, with each stick and twig like a spilled wick in the dulling hollow of the sconce: metamorphosis in the cancelled pond ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 17 November 2011

... The Shelter I should never have stayed in this cold shieling once the storm passed and the rain had finally eased. I could make out shapes in here, the occasional sound: a muffled crying which I took for wind in the trees; a wasp, stuttering there at the windowsill. I listened. What looked like a small red coat was dripping from its wire hanger. There was a shift and rustle coming from the bucket in the corner by the door; I found, inside, a crumpled fist of balled-up paper, slowly uncrinkling ...

Untitled (51)

Robin Robertson, 3 November 2005

... for John Banville Hello Hello Hello Hello what shall we do today? Hello Today. They come in procession: clown, princess, scarecrow, ghost, a drift of the overgrown: women in their institutional white socks and black shoes, winter coats over nighties, sheets, sack-dresses, party hats, paper-bag masks with eye-holes and straw, hard plastic masks with white elastic: cat, devil, crone ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 15 December 2005

... Manifest Try to reconstruct me from the heraldry of the flesh, the thick blur of scar tissue, shreds of clothing, that burst vessel in the eye like a twist in a marble, those frost-feather wrinkles at the side of the mouth, the sagittal crest, the arteries’ complicated reds, flakes of semen, the blonde hair at the nape of the neck of either of my daughters, that cipher of birthmarks, saliva on the whisky glass, the weight of the brain, the weight of the heart, the bolus of the last meal, the trace of morphine in the nails and in the grey hairs of the chest, blood-string in the stool, gall-stones, an ankle-spur, the retina’s code, the death-mask, life-mask, the bowel’s gleet, the maze of fingerprints, ruined teeth, signatures of taint and septicaemia, the body’s hieroglyphic marks, its flayed accoutrements, this paraphernalia of clues; but you will never find me ...

The Coming God

Robin Robertson, 13 September 2012

... after Nonnus Horned child, double-born into risk, guarded by satyrs, centaurs, raised by the nymphs of Nysa, by the Hyades: here he was, the toddler, Dionysus. He cried ‘Daddy!’ stretching up to the sky, and he was right and clever, because the sky was Zeus his father, reaching down. As he grew, he learned to flit through other forms; he’d become a newborn kid, shivering in the corner, his soft pink skin suddenly the pelt of a goat and the goat bleating, his hands and feet now taking their first steps on tottering hooves ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 20 January 2005

... What the Horses See at Night When the day-birds have settled in their creaking trees, the doors of the forest open for the flitting drift of deer among the bright croziers of new ferns and the legible stars; foxes stream from the earth; a tawny owl frisks the long meadow. In a slink of river-light, the mink’s face is already slippery with yolk, and the bay’s tiny islands are drops of solder under a drogue moon ...

Strindberg in Berlin

Robin Robertson, 19 July 2007

... All the wrong turnings that have brought me here – debts, divorce, a court trial, and now a forced exile in this city and this drinking cell, Zum Schwarzen Ferkel, The Black Porker: neither home nor hiding-place, just another indignity, just a different make of hell. Outside, a world of people queuing to stand in my light, and that sound far in the distance, of my life labouring to catch up ...

Out in the Open

Robin Robertson, 25 May 2006

... after Tranströmer 1. Late autumn labyrinth. A discarded bottle lies at the entrance to the wood. Walk in. The forest in this season is a silent palace of abandoned rooms. Only a few, precise sounds: as if someone were lifting twigs with tweezers; as if, inside each tree-trunk, a hinge was creaking quietly. Frost has breathed on the mushrooms and they’ve shrivelled up; they are like the personal effects of the disappeared ...

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