Poems about our capital
Barnaby Tidman is a 24 year old poet. He currently lives in Greece on the Megaran isthmus, where he teaches English, cycles 27 miles a day, and reads. Since graduating he has worked as a taxi controller, barman, environmental journalist and primary school teaching assistant, as well as working at the head office of a major charity and completing an internship at the arts website jotta.com. He publishes the journal Summer Scars, which features original poetry and photographic work. Issue 2 traffics for £2 via the Summer Scars blog, which also features an essay on the film director Michael Haneke.
This poem was published in City State: New London Poetry (Penned in the Margins, 2010), which showcases the work of 27 London writers. From hyperlinked walks of Battersea bombsites and guerilla gardening projects to jagged urban lyrics and dark hymns to the East End, City State presents a confident, entertaining and truly diverse snapshot of the best new poetry from London.
Shadowliths of winter machines / brush the street,
centreless dimensions / filling
52inch plasma in the boot of the white-van
ripping its breath / running blank metres
from sun rays, orbital contemplators, African accents inside that notch traffic
Isis, striking horizonal
whose tiny spine is a hallucinatory median
blazed between the algorithm of animal bones
pied in the water,
Pheisar, climbing gas of lightbulbs
muscling blank space, the fleshing beep of eternity
battled around French phonics, Russian digits
sleep machines, zone-dead happenings -
Jeans on a bathroom floor.
flesh on water.
oil on the tyres,
mirror on the car,
flesh on the mirror.
Isis pumping light-freeze,
P-Tsar walked absorbing rebellion
/his eyes swallowed
/through swarming Russian furs
mind fathomed a mile-long, downward echo
survived like an ant
infinitude of re-cognition;
arabesque of ego rotating,
harmonic drive sprawling through a second.
the lobes of sky /bleeding with shadows.
gauges of the present affected with nations
the thought of weather
lolling from skull-planets,
no extensions to keep shape, repel
Eye-beams swung by creeping minds
bordering on mergers,
sky high statues, aching currency
self-beheading leadership, nation-stone pandering sleep
pain of romanticism
trauma of time, relentless
ecstasy of location
post orgasm of isolation hustling for laughter
(grasping street-hands, remembered direction)
drop-ship mandalas hung from the seventh atmospheric layer
cloud-dust onto insane acres of imagination.
Fray-Seer hustling the laughter of phantoms, warming to the daze
of Malcolm X's echo-less morphine trip,
tears in the far corner of the eighth layer
hang from streaming ice eras -
Isis steams with memory
leans towards the ocean, the thump
of healing water.
To the sound of porcelain ripping
Fade Hard drops his eyes through storeys,
as the cracked lightning
fists and breeds
Note on text: I wrote this whilst living by the Thames in Barnes, SW London, yards from the site of Elizabethan occultist John Dee's house (you could see it from the local pub where I worked at night). I would focus on the river and its heavy speed as I was preparing for sleep, pleasantly linking my tall bedroom in the flat to Conradian seascapes far into the ocean. Within, two pseudo-mythological characters battle to a backdrop of exploding mental illness induced by the 'elemental' crossroads of river and street.