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Poems by Rob Yeatman

Flooding the Spectrum

He spoke today and the words, not drawn
from him but peeling off like the flash of lemons,
spoke only of his early toys, and of the way
time folds and curves.

You once said that we all exist somewhere
on the autistic spectrum. I often thought, strutting
dark through the buzzing webs of rooms, that I flooded
every point on it.

But he spoke today, and I thought I saw him move
slowly past me, marking me a fixed dot flat
on the squared paper, his own ink starting
to bubble and spread.

And, as he moved into the garden, the fallen hydrangea
which only ever flowered in ashen twilight,
suddenly answered to the day and broke clean open
to the ambiguous acid of the sun.

Poetry is a mysterious chess, whose chessboard
and whose pieces change as in a dream and over which
I shall be gazing after I am dead.
- Jorge Luis Borges

The Game

That's twice that bishop's changed into a rook.
However much I concentrate and comb
the board for clues, it shifts each time I look.
I've had enough of this. I'm going home.

Now what the bloody hell's that doing there?
I'll swear I took that piece three moves ago.
I'm not sure my opponent's playing fair,
his pieces have a tendancy to grow.

There's not so much an element of chance
as elements of giving up the ghost.
I don't play well whilst floating in a trance.
I'm gone. Don't try to stop me. Adios

But look - the board has transformed back again.
It seems the game is almost won for me.
It's mate in two my friend, take up the pen.
My bishop's disappeared again I see.

My king has toppled over on its own.
I've had enough of this. I'm going home.


If you could learn to love
a single word, the fact of its life
spun burning on the page,
perhaps you could take joy also
it its cooling; melting quickly
into the fibres.

Once, as a painter, you invoked
the black sails of Turner.
Smoked them insubstantial
in the molten canvas; composed
men out of the very light
they breathed.

It seemed, at times, as if a splintered
fragment of the earth's astonished fury
had rushed screaming into the
containment of your frames,
shuffling unrepentant in the shivered
cathedrals of light.

The one stroke of oil, once stirring
and roaring in the dust,
now lives, dead still, in the embers
of the sky. Take comfort then
from the single word, hoarse from
the raving, serene.

Cardiff - International Day

Whisked flat and wild through all the can-can streets
of bubbling red and glorious white lies,
in all the haze of funny-shaped conceits
I rested under leaning Bevan's eyes.
And, as I watched the nation's starry dance,
a man came, samba floating, up to me
and parachuted up the flag of France
which twisted the divided light in three.
But as the world fell slowly back to pale,
he noticed my attempt at friendly scorn
and as he walked away he told a tale
of red cloth in the dirt, bedraggled, torn.
I laughed at him, declared his story lame,
and slunk from his glad eye throughout the game.

Hymn to the Hammond

Flipped on, sparked up
and glittering electricity
skitters the wire clutch dust
to the deck.

But throw a thumb down
the hundred odd bones,
jump down the galleries,
floor one chord

and the particles leap,
fast to the grid, meshed
in the scream as the fuses
click, crack and blow.

Send feedback

Biographical sketch: I'm a 30 yr old from England and have been
writing for about 2 years - a total novice.

Rob Yeatman recommends:

Emergency Kit by Jo Shapcott & Matthew Sweeney (editors)
Reason: A vibrant and unusual anthology of international contemporary poetry. Full of many magical things.

Recommendations for writers:

Bear in mind the the reader is not going to be interested in your heart, soul or 'feelings'. Concentrate instead on the sound and rhythm of the words - the music in the poem, the imagery and visual sense and avoiding phrases that you've heard or read more than a couple of times before.


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