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This is JACKET # 14 - July 2001   |   # 14  Contents   |   Homepage   |

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Ian Patterson


six poems from the sequence


Change sun by sun and fling and laugh
as any spot that now had fired the waste
from the bill twitted within my brain’s
winter edge, shaped in slow regret.

I wrote two letters. Given words to mine
it cuts like my table carried off by name:
touchdown will carry you back unpaid
as a vane would disjoint witchery from me.

This can of shapes from the files is a spot
when he’ll come equal into the streets,
as we did with a more crashing iron fire,
a little string and a working flare pane, maybe.

Flung my iron to the bushes, to the stair,
before a cupboard. Our hands, her personal
arch stood in homespun reason’s blink
burst by numbers and without the walls.

Cornered or vast, what was this green grain
to the wild eye in a ferny ring,
broached to turn with self to thin sense
between yours and mine, the sun’s lip upcast?

Even no sign under her pin, steel and stone
vanished and returned on the panel.
The names had failed where the mist felt the dust,
phantom hints gone for response to open.

The name changing the barren tree
to shades of irony, rapt in the true one
to her ruin from bee slumber. Mile by mile
I come to my voice, the grasp of other.

I was like a tract on every side
as I stood in a rose spot where even the new reasoning
looked radiant, breathed all our lives
in mothy walls, under archways of thought.

Now as early measure forbids writing
I conceive laughter and a light green breath
set in unrest and small ash trees. My page
is in my space, my light like silent zest.

I claim to feel I cannot find my lack
in bespoke ends, flush within that day
your body gazed and gazed far up my stair
boring within my bones, and moved things.

Drain the light wasted by sleeves in risk,
give space stairs in secret. Nettles in your bread
by the incipient lines do indeed say green
by this and skin my cold equanimity.


Pronounced or heard, hid here in the late spring
while red shapes of puppets circle
and rust, I’m apt to lift you back, loving as rain.

Scarce guns in their yellow kiss stood
under the arch called circumstance
yet at that time no rent was set to the years.

Rest breaks strange stars in the waning cold
of meaning, to be still as wings. Beyond earth’s doings
a father broods, speaking at a spot, and on the sky.

Last and stay, cling and greet the sick men
in blue light and dim thought of zest.
Flash out a slit through chrome frippery.

Form lies in a pinch to be ecstatic
till the image raised the plot, blind and blended
with each dome to spell cove and abrade each groin.

In the day shapes sink as ripples out of nothing.
I can recall a man who died by an alley
hurled into the sun by the bloody darkness,

And crushed like a bent tune. Extinct romance
may be silent on its long trace and count as mine,
perplexed in these late tappings and distortions.

I said iron shall perish to a shining black regret
and leave some impulse missed on the eclipse
of immense human war crimes and wounds

To life, and maybe what I believe unlit with replies.
What is worse than unanswered broods in the night
Of laws which attack life, their sleep-worker and song.


Opened tissues feel
one wild frame from dawn
till we go to speak

Yet she never succeeds
those millions of daily messengers:

I say some scheme tore shape
by a word flash through my land

Written on the poor unconscious flesh
that I still traverse through the heat.


Fear and dwindle waste the ear
No hint to fly to sense:
Ignorant skies shut earth’s wide tear
And bide unreasoning yet.

Today organic dust will wane,
Be lit and unfold as this moment
Had just begun to speak
For a red cloud by the home.

When I edged a shape by this
I broke my word and left off
Biting these cheeks and bonded
With a broken time that knew it.

Between now and a guarded tongue
My face is froth, not fate:
I need to find things I knew,
A spot by no trace of old intent.

Meet me at my tread with preoccupation,
Which grew as the call for hours;
Follow my scared dead seasons
Into a thin sound screened from the eye, swallowing things.


In the patient world, be an instant
It subdues. Times drop their fires
And we think we drop a blind moth,
My page in space the lamp.

Know how days are birds turned to men:
Birds used to feed us shapes that cry in frost
Till delay took the shine in a mask
And the eye of strings trembled through air.

We swim on form and stony hands
As the door to less and the scarce steps:
Content is gone to name his fancy protest
Where feet mounted the will with his cameo.

Her thoughts track the sun to the lawn end
In rooms by now happier than winter:
The vent of pain is familiar, her dry ears
Wrenched to a text we half ruined.

This could have been bewitched by feathers
If thought did not cut masks with a pencil.
See that poetic water? Banks change shape best
As I look at knowledge, not you in spring.

All alight with bitter fields, the blind
Find my messenger breath gleaming red and cold
In the twigs, prone to a hurried request
To one who wrote back these eyes.

No feet bestow me where you walk beside sight,
The door emblazoned twice in the frost:
Black is best and dust has no shapes —
Matter is delight and fear, shaped in my path.


for Jenny

The stolen world, glowing and benighted with vision,
Ending over my ivoried task, moves and burns;
So now I draw this spot to that field in the dark
And calm all the stone time of my words.

And now the nettle did blow. It wears my fate.
I trace feet from shapes that dance
Through the night for little cost,
And shade her eyes with no repayment, no calm.

I scanned each lost child for time at his pause,
And dwindled to be left like his name:
Memory is a crumbled tree, a spectre in a mind
That may be wrong as in song the pee-wits grieve.

Now a rose and an arid silence heat my presence
Against the green skyline. She thought that voice spoke
Of my father, between dream and content,
Full of steep surprise, its curve wasted by sunlight.

Then the form of time did not return again?
Fifty years faced the dry tap and I heard Johnny’s tale
In time to the wind as light dispersed the files,
And the plans I once had approached the tract of words.

The first voice was dead. I wondered what secret door
Went out through the fields beyond me. Can my mouth
Close while words lie within me? I sang the tune
We sang walking in the summer when form is fire.

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This issue of Jacket is a co-production with SALT magazine,
an international journal of poetry and poetics, edited by John Kinsella
PO Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge PDO, CB1 5JX United Kingdom

This material is copyright © Ian Patterson
and Jacket magazine and SALT magazine 2001
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