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Richard Lambert


The Nameless Places

Richard Lambert The Nameless Places


Published by Arc Publications, Nanholme Mill, Shaw Wood Road Todmorden OL14 6DA, UK Copyright © Richard Lambert, 2017 Copyright in the present edition © Arc Publications, 2017 978 1911469 00 1 (pbk) 978 1911469 01 8 (hbk) 978 1911469 02 5 (ebk) Design by Tony Ward Printed in Great Britain by TJ International, Padstow, Cornwall Acknowledgements The author is grateful to the editors of the following publications where some of the poems were published: PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Review, The Rialto, The Spectator, the Times Literary Supplement, and The Yellow Nib. His thanks go to Arts Council England for their support through a Grant for the Arts. Thanks are also due to: the members of Norwich Stanza, particularly Julia Webb, Stuart Charlesworth, Sally Festing, Ramona Herdman, Peter Wallis, and Lynn Woollacott; Moniza Alvi for reading the manuscript; and Jo Guthrie, Laura Scott, and Heidi Williamson for their editorial judgement, friendship, and advice. Cover image: ‘Middle Road East’ by Katarzyna Coleman (acrylic & charcoal on canvas, 2016), by kind permission of the artist. This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part of this book may take place without the written permission of Arc Publications. Editor for the UK & Ireland John Wedgwood Clarke


City 1. The Rebel Angel / 7 2. The Library / 8 3. The Theologian / 9 4. The Rebel Angels / 10 5. The City and the River / 11 6. The Sluice / 12 7. The Bridge at Night / 13 8. The Outskirts / 14 The Hotel Guidebook 1. The Station Hotel / 15 2. A Late Guest / 16 3. The Hotel Pool / 17 4. The Maid / 18 5. The Union Hotel Carol / 20 6. The Green Fish / 21 Poem of the Hand / 22 Slight Poem on a Rough Surface / 23 Unnecessary Poem / 24 Phases of the Moon 1. To the Far Moon / 25 2. Harvest Moon / 26 3. Lullaby of the Moon / 27 4. In her Last Scene… / 28 5. Little Romance of the Moon / 29 Summer Night / 30 The Deer / 31 A Country Visitor / 32 Man with the Head of a Stag / 33 Tree / 34

Her Tail / 35 Her Hands / 36 The Painter / 37 The Line / 38 Sea Ballad / 39 Your Rule / 40 Snow at the Window / 41 The Magnolia Blossom in the Gardens / 42 Leaving the City / 43 Suburban Rain / 45 The Valley, Rain Coming / 46 Down the Valley, Water / 47 The Token / 48 The House / 49 The Heart / 50 Creatures and Ghosts / 51 A-Road / 52 Marsh Songs / 53 The Wind / 54 Coastal / 55 Sunday Afternoon / 56 Sleepless / 57 Island / 58 Sonnet / 59 Biographical Note / 61


1. The Rebel Angel On the wall there’s a silhouette you find is just a shadow from the trees because the opera house is empty now, of course, and in the square the rebel forces have long dispersed though a solitary angel hangs from a lamp-post, dressed in tar and feathers. He’s fifty, fat, and broken in half like this sonnet.


2. The Library The library is empty now, of course, but you notice how its fan design is based upon an Alexandrian notion of extent, since taken up by the Venetians, sundry bibliothèques, private archives, but here grotesque what with the angel hanged in the broken window or should I say apsidal light, what with the way he keeps singing while the card index plays with the unfixability of the word ‘shadow’ which might easily apply to this desk where the shade of his body keeps swinging though if that is the result of his singing or the wind through the broken window, grotesque as it is, the card index will not tell, being scattered now, an alphabet of hell.


3. The Theologian The big-brained theologian who dragged two scribes to trace his flood of thought, his memory larger than Apulia, trained in exegesis, wrestler with the mystic-rational nexus, Prof., polemicist who required armed guards on bitter lecture days (Paris, Left Bank, ’71), taker-on of hundreds in quodlibetal disputation, black-gowned, God’s dog, eminently assailable, with volutes of green leaf beginning to unfurl, took a break in speech. One scribe flexed, unflexed, his fist. The other yawned. The Bible, with its big words, paused. Air poured.


4. The Rebel Angels But leaning on their forearms, their wings unhooked and hung on chairs among mirrors, rails and mannequins, their baroque, implacable boredom in the air, who, or what, are they waiting for? Through deeper alleys, plazas, lanes the rebel angels roam, seeking doors, an upper room, a floor on which to sleep, dispersed, their futures lost – while clouds stream across the roofs like refugees.


5. The City and the River All the city’s emendations and asseverations – the plot of waste, the disused offices, the overflow, the unspooled tapes – , the river takes her slow lope round, tracing a strangeness that the city does not deny, the river examining them, letting them go by.


6. The Sluice Towards dusk the river packs volume between narrow banks, and slows – purple-pink cloud, shadowed houses – the river approaches the sluice. And this building of frosted glass, as dead as an abandoned swimming pool, welcomes the horse-powered force with dynamos, gauges, needle-verve, and the river vanishes. There is a sound that rumbles, flaps like flames in air, thunders in continuous reverberation underground before, jumbling chutes of white, tips juiced a lucent green, the river fans beneath the night.


Profile for Arc Publications

Excerpt from The Nameless Places  

By Richard Lambert Published by Arc Publications, 2017

Excerpt from The Nameless Places  

By Richard Lambert Published by Arc Publications, 2017