No 167 - 2002
Two Poems about Rivers
1. River Quatrains
You never step in the same river twice
Although it looks just as it did before.
Only a perfect stillness will suffice
To keep Narcissus seeing what he saw.
Our prisoners we like to send upriver.
We load our troopships many miles downstream.
We are the right side of the Guadalquivir,
The other’s enemies of the régime.
Our City Fathers’ planning is polite.
The abatoirs is on the edge of town.
Yet out of mind may not be out of sight;
Here on, the river runs a darker brown.
The Boat Race passes right beneath our windows,
We hear them cheering different shades of blue.
We don’t get up and rearrange our clothes,
We’re in a boat that’s crewed by only two.
When Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon,
They thought: ‘This guy’s no Marius or Sulla,
He’s Number One’, and shouted out his song,
‘I am the Very Hungry Caterpillar.’
Alaric the Goth commanded that
The Busento change its course to hide his tomb.
In Cosenza now only the bureaucrat
Disposes of the dust which conquered Rome.
The River Jordan flows in semiquavers,
The Seine runs on past Seurat’s tingling dots,
The dead on Ganges ghats burn round the bathers,
The Acheron parts Haves from the Have Nots.
How doubly bright our minor river shines –
Its Bankside boulevards, boutiques and bars,
Its tax-loss growers of designer wines,
Container mud beneath electric stars!
See them gather by the river – Johannes
Der Taufer preaching that Messiah is near.
But those white sheets and that well-knotted harness?
How long, how long, before some God appears?
I’m on a river bank. I think I see
The farther side: a choice of nothingness
Or paradise. My poems wait for me.
They look away, they threaten and they bless.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The