Todd Swift is a Tutor with The Poetry School, and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University. He is the editor of many poetry anthologies, including Poetry Nation, and 100 Poets Against The War. Poems of his have appeared in The Guardian, Poetry London, and Poetry Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Seaway: New and Selected Poems (Salmon, 2008) and Mainstream Love Hotel (Tall-lighthouse, 2009). He is co-editor, with Evan Jones, of Modern Canadian Poets: An Anthology, forthcoming from Carcanet in 2010. His blog is Eyewear.
Thrown off course by being back
TGV-forward to Avignon.
France replaces England
Effortlessly in these my affections.
Dull sun powders the fields
Whose wheat’s been boxed.
A dull sun but still it burns
Away seven years of cold
In one careless touch. Suns
Could care less what farms
Produce, when leaves flare
Under their vast informing sway.
My world brushes up against froideur
But turns also to glow in a sunflower
That like casual or first-seen love rides
On night’s coulds and might have beens
As desire’s object leans just so just there.
Glad fitfully to be alivened on loan
Let off by despair I let later light
Brush my hair, burnish my bronze hours
To a nuanced golden throne aloft on lack.
This bridge a church broken
Like a baguette above a river god
Mad as wine makes a drinker
Put about like a lie by a miracle
Of lifting – by a demi-saint
With a penchant for hearing God.
I think the wind could throw children
To their wet slaughter if it tried
So limited these railings – and the snub-nose
Of the thing just starts where stone stops –
A sloping blunt snap then just air –
As if answer to unanswered prayers –
Built to show where the dead go
When overburdened angels shrug them off.
Dropping The Bottle
A perfume bottle in the dry bath
Against the white curvature of the space
Its body slides against, though contained,
Noisily embodying all that rolls and takes
The absence of that in which to dive into;
Helpless as the violence upon the white
Bowl of the thing blows its motion out,
All the while holding its tension, denied,
Like breath, a kiss, love for a man, inside.
Should a holder crack and scent leak
Away, it would leave me to run water
And slip in, to bathe on a glass seabed
That would take skin off to new places.
And All My Hope Is Gone
Mr. Indigo Blythe converses in low tones
With the shy Ms. Digby-Sasquatch-Jones
At the poetry launch for our two polite poets.
The incense in the bookshop reeks of stale verse
Which is, perhaps, from the careful altar those adverse
To poetry’s nearly-transmogrifying fire choose to slaughter
Their delicate, small-numbered Oxbridge daughters and sons,
As if to shake the lofty literature ladder might bring awfully down
All the eloquence of the apple, the demonic essence of the pear.
After conceited whispers of despair there is the long Chinese meal.
If I had to die shortly,
I would most miss religion –
Its music, hope; for dying
Would mean I could toss aside
Any need for faith, or swaying
To songs about brothers and sisters
And Galilee devil ocean of love;
Noosed, I’d sidle to the trap, a line
On the wood revealing where
The door falls, just so,
Letting one’s body go, all
Together, down like Lucifer’s
Envious tumble from solid
Through unsubstantial air
To earth, which breaks
The fast and pitiful objects
That receive its flat hand there.
I’d miss bibles pews choirs
As I waited to be quick-ended
After being judged, fair, unfair.
Love Or Poetry
I know now that love, not poetry, will save me
From your blessed injuries, your uneven surfaces,
Like a line that doesn’t work. It won’t open out
Like love will. Poetry mutters, scuttles, rebuts.
I strut now in bars of sure sheer sun, unashamed
Of my lack of poetry. I swoon to swim in prose.
I love what this lack of tortured syntax means;
It means I can go waste my life being ordinary.
Visit Todd’s blog, Eyewear.
Visit Todd’s website.
Order Seaway: New and Selected Poems (Salmon, 2009).
Order Mainstream Love Hotel (tall-lighthouse, 2009).