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Angel Hair feature

Lee Harwood: The Seaside


Cover of Angel Hair anthology

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(for Peter Ruppell)

You wrote such a love poem that I was
dumb-founded & left to scratch the sand
Alone in the surf I couldn’t join the bait-diggers
I’d left my fork and bucket at home
& I am not rough by nature

You were sitting on top of a boulder deep in the forest
It was taller than a man & surrounded by pine trees
I think there are pine trees on Fire Island
but I’ve never been to Fire Island, though
I can imagine & we all know what could happen

there, but. . . . . . .
& the world that started in a parked car
was really a fearful one — It would only lead
from one confusion to another
& I couldn’t do this to you on the giant highway

She was a reason in herself, & women need
the menace of ambiguity in their actions
so one action might well signify the opposite
— an act of sacrifice really the act of killing & revenge —
& this much was true

The exercise book was green & the distance
saved much embarrassment though you were
in many ways ignorant of this
I still can’t find my bucket & bait-fork
but this is only an excuse

from Angel Hair 4, Winter 1967—68


John Ashbery and Lee Harwood, Paris, 1965. Photo by Pierre Martory, Courtesy of Lee Harwood

Lee Harwood, born 1939, lives by the sea in Brighton and Hove, U.K. ‘Recent’ collections of poems: Crossing the frozen river: selected poems (Paladin, 1988), Rope Boy to the Rescue (North & South, 1988), Morning Light (Slow Dancer Press, 1998.)

John Ashbery and Lee Harwood, Paris, 1965.
Photo by Pierre Martory, courtesy of Lee Harwood


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