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Tony Harrison

12 February 2009
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PM am

Tony Harrison

22 May 2003
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Tony Harrison

15 December 2005
... The best wood to make chips with for our fire was from bakehouse boxes Dad brought smeared with lard. It had a whiplash crack. Its sparks leaped higher. You had to look sharpish with the fireguard. Primed with Posts Mam plaited the greased chips lit with a purple sputter and deep hiss. More than childhood’s pier-machines or sherbet dips this fire I learned to lay’s what I most miss, though my hands ...

On the Metre

Tony Harrison

2 June 2005
... I’m always quoting le coeur bat l’iambe – Jean-Louis Barrault on the metre of Racine. Blood recorded on an echocardiogram in synch with karaoke squid shapes on the screen, I hear now with a woman in white coat. Though not iambic, more fluttery trochee, the odd dochmaic, anapaest, I note the verse in my pounding heart at least’s not free. The beat’s in a blood wash, the sound’s more a factory ...

Under the Clock

Tony Harrison

17 April 2003
... Under Dyson’s clock in Lower Briggate was where my courting parents used to meet. It had a Father Time and Tempus Fugit sticking out sideways into the street above barred windows full of wedding bands, ‘eternities’ to be inscribed with names, like that I felt on Dad’s when we held hands, or on Mam’s crumbling finger in cremation’s flames. Today back on Briggate I stopped and saw the red ...


Tony Harrison

15 April 1999
... I’ve noticed Donny’s bridal gownshop’s lights are only on, in winter, Saturday nights. Though window shopping for white wedding gear ’s not done this coldest, darkest time of year, maybe, the owner reckons, as they pass those near-nude girls, reflected in the glass, might remember his window’s lacy white, if they get pregnant from their date tonight. In Donny at the Danum all alone hearing ...

Three Poems

Tony Harrison

26 April 2007
... Galaxidi Those golden hairs I’m stroking on your thigh I only get to glimpse in this Greek light and only here do claw-snags on my hand, (from grappling with our lunch of garavides, the Greek word for the local langoustines) the back of which has those dark freckle marks my grampa called his ‘grave-spots’, catch on your glittering Galaxidi-gilded hairs. Mulberry This mulberry tree’s in Newcastle ...

The Gifts of Aphrodite

Tony Harrison

4 January 2001
... These figs missed the picker moved to pluck tokens of love or welcome to strangers, missed bird, missed casual snacker, so are burst and outspread as red as hibiscus, scuffed pistil opera plush, carmine mite-view velveteen the pile of posh bathrobes. The carob pods clatter, as the woman rattles her long pole in the tree, down through the branches to the roadside ditch from which she picks a handful ...

Black Sea Aphrodite

Tony Harrison

21 November 2013
... Chersonesos, Crimea. Archaeologists reassemble miscellaneous pebbles to restore Aphrodite found on the Black Sea the year of my birth, 1937, by Kiev’s Prof. Belov. An Aphrodite of pebbles made fatal as missiles when flung by fervid adultress-denouncers, in sects so hyper-pious they damn all such couplings, and stipulate suitable sizes for stoning so adultresses the goddess had goaded to lust suffer ...

The Grilling

Tony Harrison

6 June 2002
... birthplace Nysa, Venus favoured more than Lacedaemon, and where Saytrs stomped till now, and Herculaneum, all swamped, engulfed by cinders in a flood of fire: power like this not even gods desire. (TonyHarrison (1937- ) Goethe dashed his own off, and his wine in which he tasted AD 79, then spoke to my portraitist Tischbein: The gods are grilled to have such dreadful powers. But what gods’ hands ...

Florida Frost

Tony Harrison

17 February 2005
... Cancer carried off his cherished wife as Florida floundered in a freak harsh freeze and let the fahrenheit out of his life never to gain back its lost degrees. He still can’t quite believe she’s wholly lost. He no more thought he’d see his dear one go than that he’d see in Florida a frost with that sudden drop last year to 12 below. Grapefruit first froze then splurted slush. Unripe oranges ...

Two Poems

Tony Harrison

21 October 2004
... Eggshells One year in Washington DC a girl I got to know said she came from Germany. She looked quite like Bardot. And her first name was Brigitte (rhymes with bitter not with sweet) and though things turned out bitter we met for walks, for drinks, to eat. In a little while she let me see her total tan, breasts, belly, legs. And that Easter Sunday in DC she brought me Easter eggs. She’d painted all ...

Wasted Ink

Tony Harrison

6 November 2008
... 1. So much black ink expended and still speared! From here, where I’ve been happiest, and my most down, I can see the last place you’d been happy in. Down from Apollo’s wrecked temple with caper plants flowing out of the cracks of once sacrosanct columns, across Amphissa olives to Itea and sea. Twenty years since then, I still can hear, above the squeak of sneakers on the Sacred Way, the creak ...

Cornet and Cartridge

Tony Harrison

17 February 2011
... I look through lace curtains in the Swell hotel with glass in its windows not panicking plastic like the one I’d camped out in during the war, and see morning mist in now sniperless hills. Next door ’s the old hotel, the Shell not the Swell with sunflower shell-bursts on its windowless sills, some deep enough at least for sparrows to nest in, and my shadow makes them fly up in a twitter, filling ...

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