For Bill


We leave the Thunderbird
to salt-rust some more,
take the 350 out
under the full sun and
zig-zag up the middle of the
white-lined highway
heading for Canada.

It’s a long journey to take
and for that reason alone.
It is beyond where we are
and in this bright light
shines like the right way to
disturb and excite our
blood on a hot day.

We pass cars that retain the heat
and roll up country into our
channel of cooling air where the bike
and white broken stripes become a line
racing the road to an end
or wherever it takes us on a long
curve of an invisible bend

until T-junctions become targets
for our heart-beats. But each stretch
soon turns into the flat grey
of open space within the greater
emptiness of the countryside.
The Honda roars on and our
sun closes down at the horizon.

The Lakes are somewhere
in the night we reach
before turning home,
and, never nearing the border,
we look for more than small
lights in the distance to signal
this new destination, some
sign unknown along the road
but speaking to us alone on the
reason for thundering on.


‘Stack’ by James Davies – Carcanet


This excellent book-length ‘minimalist’ poem reveals what it has to reveal gradually, somewhat like the ‘broken bit of skirting’ and ‘stair-rod’ of the first page become less disparate in the disparate observational continuum of the whole, especially when bits of building are mentioned within a lineage of ‘a hedgehog’, ‘a grapefruit’ and ‘pigtails and mushrooms’ that take us up to page 27, a page that ends with the line

‘i’m at home wearing new trousers and making intuitive drawings’

The poetic and other philosophies within all of this are as simple as the simple items described and the direct observation of

‘2 buddhas make some soup’

‘one makes it differently’

What engages and amuses and surprises [so I’ll only mention one so as not to ruin for your own reading] are the ways in which observations are repeated but altered, as is the unfixed nature of any observation as well as interpretation and the fact of difference – so, for example, references to lemons can be

‘a pile of lemon and lime skins’


‘a witness to a lemon on a slag heap’

As we read we are experiencing the world in all of its mundane to complex existences, and occasionally there is the deeper contemplation of this

‘meditation on sulphur, calcite and stibnite’

to the variation on a theme

‘i saw her eat a lime’

Did she eat the lime

‘behind the wall’

because this is the chronology of the observation, or have we moved on and beyond?

Perhaps the questioning within the text becomes more taxing than our own, but in the end only we can decide

‘examine the difference between a blue plastic put next to me and
placing myself next to a blue plastic’

There are no new narratives but this is one of them. It is a sequence that genuinely surprises and delights, but you must have the perseverance to match the writer’s stamina for discovery, for example

‘the first 1000 google images of yellow paper cups 28/4/13’

More details and to purchase here.

‘Talking Shadows’ by Rupert M Loydell – The Red Ceiling Press


The poems in this collection seem cut-ups/found and convey a sense of loss or change – though not as maudlin observations and rather moments of candour – as with first poem Downriver where


In the title poem, similar reports of diminution continue


The titles too [though not all] present decline, for example Skint City and Derailment, though in this latter there is hope/humour/’lite’ litotes perhaps


The A Circle of Mirrors section continues the patterning in lay-out. In Cantilever there is within this the playing with further patterns of repetitions, the brevity of the whole – as with each short poem [perfect for this Red Ceiling chapbook]  – providing succinct moments of aural clarity even when the ‘meanings’ shift with re-reading.

These ‘shifts’, by the way, are when we see beyond the perceived mood and simply enjoy the language and imagery that flashes before us, somewhat like


An evocative chapbook to have and read. Check here to order.