5 May 2012

In a world where news travels slowly, I usually catch up with the weekend paper through the week.  This morning I was reading Carol Ann Duffy’s commissioned Sixty Years Poems, and was reminded of my 1999 poem.  I was asked to write a poem to commemorate 50 years of the Eric Gregory Awards for project Roddy Lumsden organised.  A group of us stood in a pub in London and read our poems, which were inspired by the year we won our Gregory Awards.  These have never been published as a group, so my poem has only had one outing.  Thought I’d put it up here rather than leave it to languish in my computer’s memory any further.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 1999, with not a hint of Prince in sight.


These are the days before
the days of counting backwards;
planes wait to fall from the sky
as birds eye them suspiciously,
measuring the year
in leaves and twilight hours.

Deep in the heart of every computer
a disease waits for the stroke of midnight
for white mice to turn their wheels
widdershins, and unborn us
without so much as a twitch
of a whisker.

So fireworks will draw hieroglyphs
in the sky, so a dog will bark
from its chained-up place in a yard.
And night-roosting birds
will cast out like swimmers
in a broad open sea.