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Poetry
  Tim Kendall
Tim Kendall's first collection, Strange Land, is due from Carcanet's Oxford Poets series in January 2005.

 

 

The Time Being

This is the time being, this is my life:
a nothing moment as a child in bed
while shadows crept up walls like shadows do
and I thought I will remember this,
this nothing, every night the same
but not tonight, tonight distinct
and stored to recollect remembering.

I wondered for years were they real,
those faces around me, and like ice
that splinters solid underfoot?
My face a stranger too, on nodding terms
and I, above or behind, watched
and waited, but was it for this,
this life being lived as I flick the remote?

That hippogriff never arrived
to make sense - though nonsense would do -
not even an instant to grasp
like Phaeton clattering the stars,
just the time being as I span the bridge
with a gas bill and the matter
of rice or potatoes for lunch.

I sing the time being, I sing
the getting there, not knowing where to get
and whether I should not not care
as rumours of progress dwindle to farce.
I sing the happy malcontent, whispering
to the slipstream goodbye, goodbye,
and loving it all, for the time being at least.

John Martin: The Great Day of His Wrath (1852)

The mind creates the threads between the stars:
tell that to the cowering souls
whose vanities crumble to flame.

Theirs is no heat death of a feeble world.
Skies unzip, lightnings hurl apocalypse,
ash thickens on a wilderness of winds -

and still they weep, as if begrudging God.
What kind of information did they want?
I stand before The Great Day of His Wrath

and puzzle at its fire, wondering if I
should dare beyond the vanishing point,
and what that pilgrimage might bring.

For the War-Dead in Normandy

Rage, all-seeing rage, and I can't sleep to forget
that town, Lisieux, and St Thérèse
hugging her consumption, lifting it to God.

At some or other arch her frail soul squeaks,
insectivorous, coaxing the throng:
there is no king saved by such multitudes.

And if redemption floats on prissy clouds
I turn instead to lawns where, composted,
young men unwhisper through the trees.

Their airlit graves of solid stone
withhold a secret from my face -
cold calyx, refusing the bud.

I must abide the knowing they do not abide,
while true believers scout for names
which meant, to long-dead parents, something.

Hungarian Rhapsody
for Fiona, pregnant

One side's Buda, the other Pest.
'It makes a difference which', though not to us,
here, alone, wandering the parks
of Margit-sziget hand in hand,

watching as the Danube laps
blue, blue-grey and grey in dusky light.
Tomorrow the baths and the brooding churches,
the river-boats and sweet Tokay.

The city purrs itself to sleep.
A solitary blackbird sings our joy
that something close should blossom and divide -
secretive and close. O Buda! O Pest!

© Tim Kendall 2004