Chris Hardy: Six Poems

Chris Hardy

  
 
Chris Hardy lives in London. His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Stand, The North, The Rialto, Smith’s Knoll, Tears in the Fence, Acumen, Orbis, The Forward Book of Poetry 2009 and in other magazines and anthologies. His work has won prizes in the National Poetry Competition and the London Writers’ Poetry Competition. He has four poems in The Isles of Greece published by Eland (in their Poetry of Place series).
 
Hardy’s most recent collection, A Moment Of Attention, was published by Original Plus Press. “The unifying quality of the work is the unflinching eye with which he regards his subjects”  – Jeremy Page, Frogmore Papers. “His poems have a vision that veers from the tender to the brutal and blunt” – David Caddy, Tears in the Fence. “His style is spare, economical, chaste yet capable of images that strike like a pang because of their truthfulness”  – Nicholas Bielby, Pennine Platform.
 
He is also a musician. A cd of acoustic music, Health To Your Hands, is available from Spiderfinger Records and from www.cdbaby.com. “You can easily imagine his name being mentioned in the same sentence as John Renbourn or Eric Anderson … well worth checking out” – Guitar Magazine, Sept 08. “The picking is glorious and the songwriting excellent” –  Acoustic magazine, Oct 08). “Stamp on his hands before he gets any better” – John Renbourn. He plays in the trio LiTTLe MACHiNe, performing their own settings of well known poems. 
 
 
 
After Crossing the Mountains
 
After crossing the mountains
we sleep on the ground.
 
Dawn light lifts our eyelids
as a fingertip lifts a lens
out of an eye.
 
Snow has fallen overnight,
the horizon is a blanket
over our feet.
 
We cannot see the mountains
but we can hear them.
 
Under our chins a necklace
of ice,
if we lie still it will not break
but melt.
 
 
Previously published in The Rialto.
 
 
     *
 
 
A Moment of Attention
 
The barn built from boards nailed
to a frame like a boat.
The purlins slotted into the walls
of the house still firm
but the planks split, slipped.
On an August afternoon
the still air inside is cool,
warm fans of light spread out
in silence hung with dust.
The swallows which live in the rafters
shoot out of the open doors
to dive-bomb our black cat
crouching and ducking
on the porch roof.
 
A woman lived in the house alone
fetching water from the spring.
She stayed indoors and grew fat
in the firelight her face burning
her back cold.
I cleared a rats’ nest
from beneath the stairs,
it took a day to smash her bed
and drag it out
a trail of wax inches thick led
from the bedside down to the grate.
In the dump outside we found
broken crocks, a spoon and big green
Gilbey’s empties.
 
After a hot day the roof cracks
like gunshot.
In the barn feathery patched
broken so light
that it might blow away
it’s easy to know
that there is only now
that life is short
a moment of attention
and be full of life
and want to live
until you’ve had enough. This
is the easiest thing
to forget.
 
 
Previously published in A Moment of Attention
(Original Plus Press, 2008) and Obsessed with Pipework.
 
 
     *
 
 
Reprieve
 
That time in hospital,
I was a stone down,
hallucinating
and the docs
speculating.
I realised
for the first time
my parents would die
one day.
 
The surgeon said
he would only need
to make a cut
big enough to get
his hand in,
through which he would
pull everything out
and check it over.
 
Nine days after
I felt good,
my belly flat,
strong, a red
centipede etched
down beside
my navel
 
and I forgot
the thing I’d learned
about my parents
and also
the other thing I saw
that night, at least
for a while.
 
 
     *
 
 
Plummet
 
 
1.     Crack
 
Did you know or were you
cool enough
to risk rejection?
In that room you led me to
like a dog
I was only aware
of you,
my friends
outside the door
oblivious but
they might have heard
my history crack.
 
I got out of there
unidentified then
in the car
stopped in a road
beneath a tree
you came again,
your body
like an eel in water
killing my life and saying
take this and start
new, unknown,
anything.

 
2.     Phone
 
The phone doesn’t ring.
Threatened silence
chills the wine.
 
I imagine you there looking
at the phone and waiting.
 
I imagine more,
you in your home
 
restless and ready.
Don’t phone.
 
 
3.     Break
 
Is this some other
married man
you’ve got on hold?
Give him a break!
If you go into work
like that on a hot day,
eyes, hair, not much else,
and say those things
he doesn’t stand a chance.
 
Twenty years will vanish
a clean sweep,
all the rigging, sails
and masts
which steer his life
smashed on the deck.
 
It’s too late, all I did was
sit in his car and then he said
he wished his daughter
had never been born.
 
 
4.      Moon
 
Anger steamed the windows as we drove.
Stopped by the kerb, bought some fruit.
 
Rain clouds made the morning dark,
and our voices saying blame.
 
Nothing else could enter into
our companionship of fear and hate.
 
The last road empty, street light covers
elevations like a skin.
 
Opening the boot next day,
an apple streaked and pitted like the moon.
 
 
     *
 
 
Snakehips
 
Funerals are cheaper than weddings,
both cost less than a christening.
Snakehips went down like the Wurlitzer
in the ballroom beneath Blackpool Tower
after speeches featuring jokes
made once by the deceased
in the presence of the speaker.
All involved seemed to agree
there was no point in dredging
the depths of grief for words.
 
We had a few old hits,
Step It Up And Go,
The Midnight Shift, no encore,
then outside in the carpark
a gathering round a pile of flowers
already litter in the gale,
the rain blurred every name.
Somewhere below Snakehips got burnt,
I hope they packed him
sieved and dry
not like something you’d
heel into the gutter.
 
No invitations, the word goes round,
a note on the board,
an hour off work,
a jar of dust and
a folded card, inside
a photo of a student looking
glad to be alive.
Black cars scatter over London
like beetles from a hole,
put your foot down and drive.
 
Snakehips leaves a widow,
she shakes and coughs
she did before
but now she’ll do it
on her own.
Her future’s narrowed
overnight,
the garden’s empty
there’s no one in the room
or on the phone, I’ve done
the gig I’m coming home.
 
 
Previously published in A Moment of Attention
(Original Plus Press, 2008).
 
 
     *
 
 
One to Another
 
At midday a sea fret comes along the coast
like smoke,
 
horses gallop away upstream vanishing
into cloud,
 
somebody stands looking out to sea
and slowly
 
the stillness rises through him so he
becomes like a pillar or a tree.
 
He is watching the waves that always keep coming
stretched across sight
 
like wings, and trying to hear what the sea
is saying,
 
the shingle’s dicing chatter that
unchanging tongue
 
like the wind or thunder we have forever
wished to learn,
 
though maybe once before we began
to speak
 
one to another we knew
what the sky and ocean meant.
 
 
Previously published in Acumen.
 
 
     *
 
 
Read more of Chris’s work at poetry p f, Great Works, nth position
and Spine.
 
Chris Hardy on MySpace

2 thoughts on “Chris Hardy: Six Poems

  1. christine

    He has a spare yet rich style. Like a song! He gave you so many sample poems to share, how generous of him. I will check out his music, for sure. Is he a singer too?

  2. Michelle Post author

    Hi Christine, Peony Moon would be nothing without generous poets and readers.

    I love:

    “you came again,
    your body
    like an eel in water”

    and

    “It’s too late, all I did was
    sit in his car and then he said
    he wished his daughter
    had never been born.”

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