Page 1


Verse by







With thanks for research to Chris (Nora) Chatterton


Two cups stood on the draining-board, The day was dark at four, And only half an hour had passed Since she had gone, then, rain;

Of all the echoes round the house None resonated more – Two emptied vessels touching lips As, never ours again.



A gate invites me to renew An old meander that we took – Long meadows skirting ancient woods A path with all the time to spare; Self-setting likely, Laxton’s cot, Cow-parsely grinning to the eaves, Late buttercups and celandines, Up-early-washing out to dry – And breakfast, Elsie’s beaming bread, Churn-butter, smiling, firm and cool, Back bacon from the chimney-hook, Wild mushrooms smelling of the fields; And laughter, lifting down the hill, A child’s balloon before the wind – The rooks are calling overhead, A gate invites, I dare not go.



‘Got a new car’ you said, ‘All plums and custard’ – Drove it so surely, so sweetly to heart; All plums and custard, to know what to look for, To know what to look for when waving you by;

Soufflé’d it, said it as airily then As fresh whipping cream on a crab-apple tart; Said it and blew me a raspberry parfait – An icing, a glaze in your bombe glacé eye;

Said it with spiciest blueberry-trifling – Green apple charlatan-pat-a-cake cool – Said it, and made me a strudeling noodle, A great mousse, a plum duffer, your gooseberry fool.

* Citron – a big lemon Citroen – a small car



I’d looked to turn their polished faces: Hannah, Anna, Otto, Eve, Judges for the competition; And they had hawked the talk so well That you would feel they’d really grieve Their, final, not to see you win.

And I had sent the entry fee, Had wrapped it, snug, in poetry – Sadly the prize had gone to Elle, Elle, gatekeeper to their kin, An established poet seemingly; Me, cynical? Now just a sec’, They’d loved my writing on the cheque.



I squirm to hear, now far too often, see This sidewind creature’s maltruistic gift, Who wheedles, weaves, uncoils hyperbolae, Who rattles rhetoric’s repertoire – this grift This feigning, wooing, wounding those who trust, Sloughing unanswered questions, shrivelled, flung, Now hissing slipless, lipless lies, how just How apt a black and bifurcated tongue.



Party-poppers drop me back, what, fifty years? And he too would drop me – My finding the most precipitous, Making the most dramatic end, Would fall and roll, lie motionless; Party-poppers to cowboy cap-guns – And, timeless, the smell of gunpowder, And ‘Bang, you’re dead!’

Except he never would be dead, Never Though I lined him up head-centre, Saw me draw my aim, yet ‘Missed’ he’d yell – He, sending me spinning, pistol falling Again, again . . . would never die – Until that summer of ’98, A bushwhacking and this Kid Carcinoma.

[ 10 ]


Ox-like then, yoked to his loneliness, He’d brought in horse brasses – Four old ones for sale;

‘Wot’ll yer gimme? Them’s real uns, yer know mate? Wot’ll yer gimme?’

Meaning singly, The dealer said ‘N’more than a pound.’

‘Well, that’s, twenty-five each then?’ The look in his eyes (I still have it, Still have it) of the whip laid on hard, As of welting, of frenzies of froth at the bit –

‘ ’Sright’ said the trader, ‘A pound for the lot.’ ‘I trust you, I do mate, if you say that’s right.’

When he’d gone – ‘Daft old bugger, whoo-hooooo, look at these . . .’ Lying there in his hands, thirty pieces of silver.

[ 11 ]


Take draughtsmanship, nowhere to hide, A pencil-point, nowhere to run; Strokes: straight, curved, soft, hard, Narrow, wide, full shade – No shadow from the sun; His sun, his God, his lording light – Oh I am glad that Turner’s gone; Associate his name with might – I pray he is not looking on To see sheep in formaldehyde.

[1 2 ]


A mile to fall, no parachute – We checked our anchor-lines ten times Before the final dash, the push, The leaning, leery, at the lip;

Out, pallet sitting there on nothing, Seemed just a simple stride away, Easy do it, door to door, Charlie 130 to landrover, a stride A little step and . . . ‘Whoa!’ Payload, pallet, parachutes, A sudden thousand feet, a toy.

[1 3 ]


Salman Rushdie wrote on Sunday Edited Monday Published Tuesday Lost his writer’s prize on Wednesday Found Iranian wrath on Thursday Countless rials offered on Friday Muslim hitmen poised on Saturday The Devil of a week for Salman Rushdie

[1 4 ]


The play done – Where summer night is almost day Though ten o’clock is come, Is cool, blue-dusted dun;

That I, in costume, sit Halfway from exit left, That entering stage right, A single gliding goose – Wings’ umber silver silent drum That beats me how, in shotgun sights, This sylph evolves, is somehow meet For twelvebore rites of letting loose;

They call them ‘Guns’ They call them ‘Guns’ these actors, That masking, once removes them, Greasepaints them quite another hue – ‘See, underneath we’re humans just like you.’

[1 5 ]


Man deserves the world he gets, He gets the world he makes; He makes the world a world that serves, That serves whom he begets; Whom he begets, begets a world, A world from which he takes; He takes and takes the world reserves, Reserving his regrets; Regrets, regrets are all he stakes To leave to his begotten – Let Eden’s Adam and his Eve now quake, The apple’s rotten.

[1 6 ]


Magnitude, where motes of Man Float sunward into gold – Their measurings forsaken, Their final measure told; And silence, like the world asleep, Warm silence in the cool – And overwhelmingly, the Love, Though wise the man, or fool.

[1 7 ]


Medals are being won Burst bright from breast of son and son;

Sailors, at siren’s cry Lay-to their arms, for shipmates die And shells burst bright from gun and gun;

Soldiers, Oliver for Roland round Give of themselves, yet give no ground And blood bursts bright from one and one;

Airmen, eagles in their eyes Stoop, strike or stall, their eager cries Flare, burst bright, deeds done and done –

Medals are being won.

[1 8 ]


Chance how we plan, Ambitious woman, aspiring man – We yet are ants, this life, the hill, So little left to insect will, That soon the sticky tongue of Fate, Licking the lively to the late – Shall prove that living for the day Has always been the better way; Not yesterday and not tomorrow, Today has all our joy and sorrow – Who with the light, yet brings the dark, Hosannas to the Lord Aardvark.

[1 9 ]


Passing, you glanced and I saw, In seconds, three or four – As round, aroused, your perfume chanced, That you and I, eyes drowsed, entranced, Drank silver solace to hapless stars, Danced close and closer to Blues guitars; And, early down the late of night, Nearly down to the silken light – Knowing, none knowing, advanced the game, That risked no sticks or stones of blame, But flared and dimmed to circumstance, And, limned in the embered glow, enhanced, Remembered, sudden flame.



Lying back from concentrated work And, looking perpendicularly up through skylight See, lying back in concentrated work And looking perpendicularly down, Apparently through skylight, straight at me, Milvus milvus Where, as cirrus cloud ensilvers sky, Red Kite ensilvers since my inward eye.

[ 21 ]


Word of warming – World’s doom foretelling Wants less a prophet, But of its other spelling. Insomuch as profit is God God will profit us little Seeing dollars he lost all sense It takes two to tangle ELECTION

Spin is spun, The crass is riz – I wonder where them Purdeys is?



Lighting on what he had said last night, Drawing the worst and the best of moves, Inhaling a dizzying, sudden resolve – Blowing and bluing such one-sided loves Leaves, ashes to ashtrays, stubbing him out.


(A Pedant’s Progress)

‘Bacon sandwich with extra egg’ As ‘bacon sandwich’ is separate fare, An egg that is added is extra, true; Though I searched until addled, Only one was there – whereas ‘extra egg’ Would require there were two.


First published in the United Kingdom in January 2014 by Goldmark. All rights reserved. Copyright Š Nick Hallam 2014 ISBN 978-1-909167-08-7 1500 standard copies of this book have been produced. There are also 100 special copies, numbered and signed by the author each containing a hand-written poem. A further 10 Hors Commerce copies are reserved for the author and publisher.

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Nick Hallam, Britain’s biggest poet, was born a war baby in Derby and educated in Belper. Undecided as to career and after numerous forays, he joined the Royal Navy, was found to be too tall for ships and, swapping to the RAF, completed twenty two years. Poetry came much later following a failed relationship when, with nowhere to go in his head, he began writing. Always ready for inspiration, he has been known, in the dark, to scribble an idea on the bedroom wall. This is Hallam’s first time in print.

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Hallam's Comment - Special Edition  

A book of verse by Nick Hallam. Published by Goldmark.