Wednesday 4 November 2009


If you're in London tonight, I'll be reading a poem (or two) as part of the launch of the Oct/Nov issue of London Magazine, in which my tribute to William Burroughs' Naked Lunch appears (note, you can find that essay, which I reprinted in 2011, here). It's at the Opera Gallery in New Bond Street, at 7:30pm.

One of the poems I will read will be this one, 'Wave', which takes its title from a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I heard the great Al Cohn play his arrangement of it one night in May 1987 at the Pizza Express in Dean Street, where I had taken the beguiling Sarah Brown, 'the girl with the million dollar eyes'. I scribbled what follows on a napkin that night, and it came out virtually fully formed, as it were, from that wave. It was published a few months later as part of a three-poem sequence called 'Solo Trio' in Infolio (Cambridge). Then in 1992 in the US in Shadowplay (Grand Isle, Vermont), and in Canada in 1993 in the Windhorse Review (Yarmouth, Nova Scotia). What you read here, what they printed, and what I will read tonight, is virtually unchanged from that Pizza Express napkin. Thank you Sarah. Thank you Al.


The sun sets twice into the same stretch
Of water; small fish hop out of the waves &
Walk on shore. In a cafe set under the only tree in sight
The tableclothes are folded; everyone is going home.
It is the dead hour of the morning; there is nothing
That is not either ending or beginning now.
With nothing else to think of or to do I fall asleep.
In my dreams, the sun sets only once each night.
In my dreams, no fish can walk.

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