i.m Tom Raworth

It is always the next island, this
so often useful even more ideas
becoming larger out of a small
part of something we do not own

Selves come like thought’s work
like a chair or a reward for doing
other people’s muddle as a chariot
for seeing the world for the time

The best memory suddenly speaking
as news or wonder down the same
telephone of human error
the same call he had had about it all

Thought blind as politicians viewed
our heads lost as sand & later it was
astonishing success made all over
his face music switched on his hands

Typing to mention an element of real
ordinary air in that way his mind in Peru
or wherever he liked to see a twist or
a change though it was true the sky was over

First thing keen as mustard we nodded
at what happened till it was over and muttered
at the phrase measuring the air a vast
idea not least being someone else

Just that not to mention things as
they sound to cook up his own light
as a man who liked the world in his flat
even the whole show to follow all this is

A void before I remember a way
into sense to veer around things said
with surprise and find other views
in various swirls and apathy perked up

They hadn’t quite been able to explain
ribbons of pink silk shot with the West
at a very low level having made the atom
bomb the little birds will sing and sing

You can’t know harm with your mind
cut off from one rubbery pair I ask
what doesn’t matter often enough
like a rabbit out of a passage of Proust

Anyway on the worst he liked at once
even if the same name would be
last to be coldly elegant depending
on price like a sudden urge to sleep

But his voice had become the point
you soon saw that or couldn’t tell
even good mouths got lost and might
be living in the century I forgot

It was an unfamiliar world with a door
to write for further study of the mind
unable to be in a daze of trying his name
about to move through it not back

He found it hard not to deal with more
new risks writing my eyes open before
a way of life in our time added to a vanished
world and to the trouble with reading alone

And misty clouds for the end of this
rain on the ground and in the air
my eyes the same now the same desire
of some invisible world still at large.




[Ian Patterson's latest collection, Bound To Be, will be published by Equipage this summer. His poem 'The Plenty of Nothing' has been shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem) 2017. He is a Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, where he teaches English.]

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