Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I'd previously posted about Nottingham Poetry Society at seventy and last night attended the book launch of their anthology, Seventy, which was concluded by the editor CJ Allen reading one of his own poems, Poets, published below, by kind permission of the author.

You don’t have to admire them, but you might as well;
they receive so little attention. They are causing a ruckus
at The Oblivion Tea-Rooms. They are steadfast
in their uncertainty. They believe they are following
an ancient set of instructions found in a cave.

The instructions are badly translated and partially eaten
by sheep. They have seen the darkness. Their desires
are works in progress. They have no sense of sin.
They bathe in metaphorical waterfalls.
They meet in private and read each other to sleep.

Like everyone else, they stand at the edge of the water
and watch for a sail. They make a noise like an animal
trapped in a sack. They make a noise like a library
in the very early morning. They look like lanterns
swung in an underground cavern. They sit on benches,

saying the light is quite like beaten gold.
They try but they can’t help being slightly annoying.
They are not terrorists or Apollos or aircraft carriers.
They are frequently humbled by the need to earn a living.
They will make a fuss over nothing. They join hands and dance

like ceiling-fans. They love rivers and hares and hatstands.
They climb ladders of grammar to find the perfect view.
Their exaggerations are indistinguishable
from the truth. They feast on thoughts and air
left over from the previous century.

They harvest thunder. They wander. They smell of tarpaulins
and adhesive corners. They know how to pull the wool.
They luxuriate in epigraphs. They miss the point.
They dream about wolf-whistling the Furies.
They have no idea what they’re doing. This is their secret.

CJ Allen, 2010
Poets was first published in Assent 64/3 and will appear in Clive Allen's next collection, At the Oblivion Tea-Rooms from Nine Arches Press in summer of 2012.

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