Four Times Obviously
July 19, 1989, Merriweather Post Pavillion, outside DC
Two-for-one tickets with a coupon. The first time.
I wanted you to like him but you couldn’t hear the words
To Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine).
November 5, 1991, Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wisconsin
My room mate told me what I needed to know.
That the first song was New Morning
And that Woody Guthrie wrote the song about the buffalo.
October 3, 1997, Cardiff International Arena
Standing on a beer-sticky floor. My colleague came.
We talked about our kids. He sang Sick of Love and
Stuck Inside of Mobil with the Memphis Blues Again.
July 3, 2010, Hop Farm, Kent
You, the boys and 10,000 others sitting in the sun
Sam said “rubbish – he sounds like a frog”.
He played piano and sang Forever Young.
through the polyfilla
in the bathroom’s
curling – peeling
mildew blackens grout
red wine stains
of the kitchen
bindweed’s blooming white tubas in the yard
lichen sketches goldgreen archipelagos
on breeze blocks
there’s a flaw in our Persian rug-
tick of turquoise
in the woof
put there by the weaver
old deep mines
behind the terraces
and gorse too smooth
for wind-battered ice-pucked
land birthed from under where
blackened hands excavated anthracite
useless slagslurrysandstoneshale landslip
tailing dung heaps of the origins of industry
dumped by some incontinent Goliath after the
good stuff’s been extracted ruin and plunder
kilowatts created steam trains ships sent
on their way central heating crimson
sunsets rain stripped trees rivers
break their banks snowdrops
in December melting ice
lost birds we spiral past
the mine museum
oh my god
The War in the Attic
In the attic in the cul de sac two boys are waging war.
This war does not want to be waged
in an attic or a cul de sac. The boys wage war
with a roll of dice – theirs is a war
with laughter and tease, punctuated with cakes
and toilet breaks. The war desires territory and plunder,
blood to the head, sacrifice, thunder –
it wants mayhem
it wants the draft,
children with pet names,
camp followers forced to
give blow jobs through barbed wire,
it wants memorials, parades, anonymous
mass graves, sudden tears over dinner.
It wants to build a legacy, a day
out of every year. The war wants to spread
into the sprawl, wash across the wastes,
swamp whole worlds. It wants collateral damage, religious doctrine,
sessions at the security council. It wants someone to claim
it’s not a war. It wants trials at the Hague. This war wants to end
all wars. The boys tap soldiers with fingertips,
bicker over rulebooks – minds already planning
the hook in the mouth of the biggest pike
under the darkest lily.
first the carnage
silverwhite trees wave-toppled and gale-gusted
strewn along the beach sun bleached dinosaur bones
next the balancing acts of stonestacks a lone conifer
clings to invisibly thin soil knots of bull-kelp
like spilled leviathan seed fetid and fly-ridden anemones in rock pools
beckon me to finger their sticky tongues
a bald eagle circles hounded by ravens
we keep on holding on hoping for the best
settling for something like circumstance
in the black basaltic sand mingled with milk white
and amber agates smooth ground sea glass jewels
amongst the fallen trunks clunking chunks of rusted ship-iron
scattered fishing floats a black plastic buoy
a walker tells me of the wreck
the Chilean ship the marker round the headland for the drowned
Tim Cresswell is a geographer and poet who has been widely published in poetry magazines in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the USA and Canada. He has poems in, for instance, Five Dials, The Moth, the Rialto, the North, Magma, Poetry Wales, Agenda, Envoi, Riddlefence and The Kudzu House Review. His first collection, Soil, was published by Penned in the Margins (London) in July 2013. His second poetry book – a book-length sequence set in Svalbard called Fence is being published by Penned in the Margins in 2015. Interviews with Tim about Soil can be found at the Wild Culture website as well as SnipeLondon.