10K, from "American Shadow" Smith Doorstop, 2010 and "Tambourine" a Cardiff Competition prize winner 2010 – Jackie Kay and Zoe Skoulding said " it gracefully explores the spaces in language…"


                   10K


                  Just as autumn gave way to winter

                  As the leaves fell open and lifted

                  Like momentary magic carpets,

                  Along the lines of hedges and verges

                  Past closed gates and badly fenced fields

                  Over pavements and cinder paths we ran

                  Weightless, the pea in the whistle,

                  Under sky and street lights and always

                  The night air hovered like a promise

                  And left its metal on our lips.


                  We ran though nobody came or went

                  And the trees and the night birds made no comment

                  And the only sound was our feet in the road

                 That seemed to make the earth move.

                 Indoors people ate, checked their mail

                 flicked channels, made love or slept

                 And all the while you were with me

                Counting out rhythm on the hills.

 

 

 

    Tambourine

          I was trying to tell you something about the brittle winter, 

          about the snow that came down and changed everything

          in the city streets, how they went quiet, we were all quiet

          and the whiteness stood like an old collective noun for kindness

          or something people feel for each other when they are trying not to fall

          but also to walk in a way that says look at the light,

          look at the beauty in the light and how it makes even the dirty

          violet, how it shows me that other girl, the shiny, good girl

          whose eyes are bright discs that quiver in their sockets.

          I heard that every sound ever made is out there,

          private sounds, the shapes of words we put together

          occupying space, like snowflakes, spoken snowflakes all over the sky ?

                               I think maybe snow is like sound and space

          like saying and not saying and I was trying to tell you something

          I had figured out about forgiveness and the way it can

          suddenly descend and how like absolution you can’t make it happen

          but you have to really know it, really feel it and then all that matters is

          getting home and I was trying to tell you that today I walked for miles

          amongst the new fall, staring at the flakes melting on my skin

          but you had stopped listening so I picked up the red tambourine

          you bought me at Hessy’s and wrapped in tissue paper that Christmas, 

          you who doesn’t like clatter, who prefers stillness, bought me

          a percussion grade Stagg, and there I was finally come home,

          applauding with 36 mini-cymbals,  rattle-handing all over the place.

          I think maybe today was a day you had waited for.  Thank you

          for my tambourine.  There is nothing I can tell you about winter.

 


 



and here’s Livingstone – part of the African poems – Carol Ann Duffy chose it at Bridport

Livingstone

You’re coming to the end.
You can hear and breathe Victoria
Before you get there. Mossi oa Tunya
The smoke that falls. The dust darkens
And the trees and grasses are greener here.
This is Eden.
As you ride, three a breast over the old iron bridge
You want this country to enfold you, to be held here
At the summit of your effort.

Not liking heights, you, my love, hang back
But someone takes your hand and pulls you to the edge
To watch the men who paid to bungee jump. It’s not the jump
But the waiting on the rope that scares you. Africa.
This is surely where and how it all began.