Arnos Grove

Free love, eat the rich: two fog-warnings far out
at sea lost under the swell, on some winter festival.
Electric music slides down a camber of cold air
to a carpet of tar. None of us can bear the silence

breaking it with explanations for the present forms
of privilege and curtain cream, with the story
of ‘Mr Dai’, our mad form master serving now
in a tube station florist in  high north London.

He’d threatened some kid with a lump of coal:
the silver sheen of the cut coal. He had to go.
The satin faces of the shop lilies, the putty
light about Friedrich moving still in Lady Sarah

Cohen House. Headlights through fog on the
North  Circular Road. No doubt about it, no
doubt about it: moon-glow/moon-glow.



Sweet Water

On the margin of a couchant fate
we are welcomed sunnily by the
            kind benighted, puckered proud
around it - the sweet water flow.

We glowing and quite fitful, ours
a fine remembering how to love
            the sweet nurture
smiling its mark, frayed as they come.

The bank extends to the trenchant
sea all moss smeared flat, our features reflect
            “quite nicely” our day fuel
and, yes, our bleached accord. All look

for the pearly path, find it falling
dead near some grinding calm. Tension
            cold-call, trick-treat for
greater care, we all sup simple sauce

and its harbour-light. He stuffs bags
till they conceal groin; he stands a Brummel beacon
            goose-fat on his tonsils,
his wrinkled nose caused the stink.

His outfit shines out with the top down
gorged those legs-as-bodies. “Hark my friend
            to my tales.” His lovers
are waistcoats, boot muster he slicks up

always sups to the dredgings. Stands his ground
fire-side, environs immured from slight
            charms a baby, in-
deed, he loves all nice in the room.


One day a war was caused and pain and blood
while London marched on fudge, there runnelled
            guts and cries abroad,
him-goading till the flight to find

the fun to watch from a war horse.
His face hair adorned break-a-fast here, see
            his countenance in melt up to
smoke. He a real-stone kicker!

Or a fire starter! He’s the sweet heir
of a lush-in-the-loins florist,
            dressed loud laughing.
Scones are late in the murderous lounge

party-wrecked, telling  him the all-known:
that the world can cause you, babba, to cease
            to be on this little trip –
no patties, no Malmsey. This is proof

as, limp from thinking, the thought is
plane as muffin ash. All who trouble
            the courts with world-doubting
will face a wind of nihil; for

the causal power is stone right into
the tender, and monkey-browed
            they’ll lose quality.
He fears for his sensory fields and tries

to buy a horse, rides all toad in hardening hours, hard as
ending too soon. Straight home
            to his soft hearth
with its sweet science, to try a pure lie.

Salt in throat, drowned by the living.
Thus was he born: the care too strong
            when careless action’s holy, when
the carefree sword swings by the suckling pig.




He makes the spin ex nihilo, swings low
            the air round bare head; this gulp of
scally-swipe up to gravity. Thus
            is tokened a what-to-do, a swatch
of that which homes on cement, stone free.

Weekends roll by, the café is talking
            wine dregs are washed with thought. They smirk to please
in clothes that wrap a soufflé, walking to the
            earth tug. She lolls in her looks

and dreams of a man, drops into
            gear for some kind soul, is fearful but
shouting her worth of sex to the tappers
            scratching for favour: there are some left
some even normally hacked in life.

Frankly there are no turns, not tumblings
            over drop or on stone passage.
What is left is schwer and bruise-dark, dog
            sniff to canteen excretions. Cheers then!
Some one will turn up to your log, desire,
            suffice – soul of your soul, right?



The Floating Man

The sea camber falls flat beneath his acts
of spray, not making its point, some wind brings
data to him
pendant in raw feel,
up for grabs, by the tourist boat proving
radio presence. Look mate,
there’s a lovely pressure as the somnam-
bulist’s cogito makes grist for the panders
who shrink from these neurotrash sops; blind
drunk all the way to the skip. His nous
bright but encumbered. The milk of conflation
licks over  sensorium quite short.
For pickling the head with doubt his blank
modus drives the point inward, all
atrophied white from thinking.
                                                This show will
explode myths, each peasant’s lips soon
start shredding all ingrate. His hands flap free
                        as feathers on an oily spitting Aga.
                        He floats a
                        thoughtframe cloud chamber.
Properties are washing out, now that touch
is no meal in this gruel of mulch,
to synthesise all pucka aspect;
his home is Teignmouth, his kids are
blinking to horizon trained. Crowds
raise funds in council house cook outs, while
the strophe commands his piss-poor pen-bites.
All the planning in salt & wife & camera
gives the lie-in-life a soft housing
on a smear of brie.


This is the body whose sway lets in
the sunlight of blue & red convergence.
Why float a heaven off shore?
that this heaven’s a minus sign?
He’s convinced he’s sanctioned all data about him,
frictionless prophylactic movements centre
                                    on a selfish hair-lipped grin
                                    no luscious thrall
to our anchoring stuff.
                                    Now he’s back
by the lie annealed           
                                    bold as air
and half as solid,
                                    but this pink shell-fish
is comfortably no combatant
                                    nor shining mental conjunct;
                                    see gut-ropes now slip
                                    free, the waves caress
                                    and now his feet
feel the kiss of cod scales and green plankton.
This agent folds up pre-drowned & a hero.


[James Russell has had poems published in PN Review, Poetry London, Ambit, Thumbscrew and Blackwater (Eire). He published a collection entitled The 64 Seasons with Oleander in 2004. He teaches psychology at the University of Cambridge.]

Copyright © 2010 by James Rusell, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.