Tim Cresswell

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.


cracks appear

  through the polyfilla


  in the bathroom’s

    curling – peeling


mildew blackens grout

red wine stains

  the grain

    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

  and weft

     of red

put there by the weaver

not wanting

  to presume


marks the
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
picnic spots
oh my god
the view.

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.

Rialto Beach

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.

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