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Jacket 20 — December 2002   |   # 20  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

Tony Lopez

About Cambridge

About Cambridge they were never wrong
the old masters: for where they mostly lived
and wore their blazers out, happened to be
                          just beyond the cakeshop
where someone is always eating
opening a window or just cruising dully along
the great body of salty water
which is what one calls the protégé
one of those heavenly bodies that everyday
go by steering the fellowship through rapids
                          committees and quality audit
to a party taped on U-matic for ARDENT productions
a royal mirror of royalty
beyond the neatly-fenced perimeter
the folding tables and ice-buckets of summer
that is always happening elsewhere
as we poor shadows light up again
                          and move on
driving over retracting bollards
having won a free short-stay promotion
something between timeshare and alumni quality
but well-dressed graduate temps
are presenting a pop-up model of the science park
                          with as yet unrestricted M11 access
                          and sprinter train interchange
right through to Stanstead
a contiguous buy-to-let development
fully-moated and double-garaged
some pond at the edge of the wood
a student prince on a short cut, bodyguard in tow
                          where the dogs go on
                          digging their doggy life
spliced into a SCENIC advert (who let them out?)
SAD fellows had nowhere to go
                          that is the case
for Michaelmas was no semester
coming to terms, no classless outreach
even with nought percent finance
or fully-funded government initiative
                          to cream off the brightest slum kids
and smarten them up, imagine
a creamy social exclusion studies unit
(choice architectural opportunity)
unless Warwick should get it
so needs must work up the bid
whilst bracketing initial-grade statistics
and preserving these endowments
foundation appeals and research selectivity --
we invented the seminar
didn’t notice it was happening elsewhere
if one should believe high-table scuzzballs
about value-added
about suffering in statu pupillari
early morning pressure on the bladder
a boy falling out of the sky
as a figure of defenestration
                          for all the world
if ‘grooming’ is the word for it
or maybe fast-track special advisor
what you might call an intern
or under-the-desk researcher
holding it together so as to write
in flickering fake candlelight
depending on the prescription
                          do not disturb
a note for the bedder — do not despair
and make a run for the Baron of Beef
are we not all visiting fellows, John?

Do you have your wax earplugs with you?
Are there prawn sandwiches ready for the pool table?
Sherry and peanuts for postgraduates?
Is anyone coming over with us for breakfast?
How do you like your kedgeree?
Where are those deserts and silver teas
                          that used to be?

But dreams break down to pixels
and I am so situated that my heart would burst
                          rather than frame it again
                          in annual lists
of unspecified resentment
standing here unsecured amongst peers
nails popping out of the boards
boards flying into the clouds
in this fantasy scenario of just how it was
we needed to know for the tour
and TV serialisation
who invented justified regicide, Arthur Dent, seaborgium,
double-helix, black holes in the genome, Keith Vaz,
Ken Clark (not Larkin) on jazz
Cresta, Velux, Zephyr, Cortina
I was that boy who fell to earth, drunk,
punting a stolen boat into the small hours
before Barry MacSweeney died
before Douglas Oliver took the biscuit
before John Temple went silent
before Brian Marley hid springtime in the Rockies
before Andrew Crozier was Dean of various arts
before Kelvin Corcoran left Reality for the Gratton Street Irregulars
before Denise Riley echo-relocated the Delphic ORACLE
                          next to MICROSOFT
before Jeremy Prynne became a BLOODAXE poet
before John James was collected by SALT
before Peter Riley signed a transfer deal to CARCANET
                          and replaced wild man Haslam
before Wendy Mulford got an enterprise allowance
                          and wrote Lives of the Saints
before the flotation
before Mengham was re-issued in PENGUIN
before Wilko was flung clear
before John Hall was speared by couch grass
before Ian Patterson went roughly speaking from Kings to Queens
before Nick Totton turned on the Radio Times
before Grace was Anna not Veronica Lake
before Tony Lopez figured out how to leave
before Drew Milne grew weary of Cava
before Keston was barking
before Rodefer left under a cloud
before Lisa Robertson shredded the weather
before Helen Macdonald slipped her jesses and took wing
before Fiona Templeton was mugged in You the city
before Lucy Sheerman put the kettle on in the Yard
before Karlien vdB joined her in REM
that florentine that tasted good
that homeward glance was Hollywood
anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
through which the river runs its course
was it Ka, girlfriend of Rupert Brooke? Or Cam?
who bubbled through the lower marsh
published by sheep meadow
otherwise a fashion model
                          adorned with kingcups
scratches an innocent behind on a tree
camped out at Lord Archer’s place
watching for the press pack
noting how everything conspires
                          to locate a sponsor
                          and tarmac over the footpath
from where we saw the punting poles go by
having heard the splash, the forsaken cry
on a Sunday afternoon rural jaunt
in waxed cotton and cashmere
plucking berries harsh and crude
early in the mellowing year
but no, it was someone else,
who had somewhere to get to
and sailed calmly on.

Tony Lopez’s most recent poetry books are Devolution (The Figures) and Data Shadow (Reality Street) both published in 2000. You can get them from Small Press Distribution. His next publication is forthcoming from Equipage in 2003.

Check out this author’s work: Bookstores in Britain, and in the United States

Jacket 20 — December 2002  Contents page
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