Patrick Wright -Poetry

Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled

We share a sense of ruin.
& already I see alpines
prise their way through the brutalist grey
of Chernobyl floors. Through the sarcophagus
they reach for sunlight. Maybe we only learn
what the burn of graphite means once blind.
I know you better after knowing disaster.
I’ve studied the colour theories
of Goethe and Albers where the wheel
& the wheel of life are a way to feel closer.
I am the stalk through the fallout, one that insists
on pushing its way & one that’s been patient.
On the surface we share the mark of detonation.
It will go on.

They say a town like this is void
though one pulse of a deer’s heart
makes it a plenum. A full spectrum
will reveal itself only when you’ve pledged
to cease hurting. Through this I see
what you saw when the sun set
& made shades on a radiator.
We are both on the side of art.

Another Kind of House

From scratch, a house built from the ruins up
follows no architectural plan, save for what’s
dreamt over several times. No-one I say in their
right mind would climb that staircase, unsure
steps, less than a match for what’s safe, abstract.

At the shop I grab only greys and whites,
sometimes greens for the lichened parts.
As cement, the studs go fine; though the
shapes are make-do, unhewn for the task.

It’s devised as a homage to Lovecraft, rooms
within rooms, alcoves, and a walled-up cat.
I’ve hinged it like a dolls’ house, so its doors
can be swung open to sunlight, or lamp light
might trail through the table legs, a strange star.

Residents thus far comprise of a mermaid,
a gingerbread man, a cliché ghoul in Day-Glo
sheets. I proceed on the basis of metaphor.
Or is this my actual house?, come to think.


Winter Picnic

We sit by a tearoom. Scooters, hula hoops, scuttle and clack.
We deserve a rainbow – though what do I know?

We’re taking notes, each wanting a winter poem.
Dylan on the veranda, the radio inside, we smile

and tap iPhones. We visit lovebirds in our minds,
the aviary closed. I photograph doves, mid-flight,

for a video which later you’ll compose.
I twist the top off a gingham jar, after you loosen it;

our flask a third term between us. We lock hands,
the lamps switch on, stoop over avenues. We twine

fingers, staring at the sky together. The sky
is one immense snow globe, and the sleet beads

on the fence, lachrymose. Trees mesh like happy skeletons.
You talk of soundtracks, recording your love:

woodpigeons, dogs, distant chirrups. No ganache,
you spoon chocolate cake, offer me yours. We handfast –

while the winter goes on, goes on, while sea sounds
of the motorway lead to reverie. I want days

like this, going on, days of no real schedule,
watching birds pick at crumbs – with you, not beyond …

It’s February. We sit here, sharing illness, kissing,
drawing faces round knots. We watch as dusk falls

on ruins of the park’s mansion. We listen, while air pincers
through the ginkgo biloba. God, let us go on.

I want us to hold here till the sun burns out.
I move because my legs are numb, just that, I want you to know.


Spires of heathens, through the pane, through a slit of voile.
Dawn aches higher, its chorus inspiring the bedridden.
A wood pigeon, pinned to last scraps of dark. The sky’s hue,
greyish-purplish-blue. Shadows on telegraph wires.

I peer down. Cars pull out. Mothers in suits, business class.
School kids bruised, led by wrists: machine-moulded citizens.

Without you, I lose myself in the damask of the sheets,
down a valium, slip into dream,
where cheek-to-cheek selfies stay intact.
Bank holiday sirens, fading out.

I want days to never begin, for stars to rise, drift again –
to a trashed cityscape, towerblocks in tatters, papers strewn,
the scene post-nuclear, streets crazed with driverless cars.
To wake is to jump off a high rise.

A Loss Either Way

How I hate to have to wake you
Sunday morning     like the man from Porlock.
Inside your dream     unspooling
feels the most sacred thing
even if spring is full of itself     near noon.
I can’t hold off from rousing you
giddy with our day ahead
the multitude of memories we could make.
Again that pang as you describe the cut
end of a tape     a story left unfinished
and never know now     ever again
where the truncated scene might have led.

So I step back to my notepad and pen
let your head fall back
to the sheet     redeem something at least
of my voice stealing from the soundless air
the far deeper intimacy of you
alone in a bedroom without me.
Just words on a page offer
some flawed equivalence     having broken off
from stroking your hand     saying your name
how our day will prove better
than where you’ve been     and return to again.

About the contributor

Patrick Wright has a poetry pamphlet, Nullaby, published by Eyewear in 2017. A full collection, Shadows on the Ceiling, will follow in 2019. His poems have appeared in several magazines, including Agenda, Wasafiri, The Reader, London Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Iota. His poem ‘The End’ was included in The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2018, judged by Maggie Smith. He has also been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. He currently works as a Lecturer at The Open University, where he teaches Arts and Humanities, including Creative Writing, and as Contributing Editor at Write Out Loud. He is also working on a second PhD in Creative Writing at the Open University, on the ekphrasis of abstract and monochromatic paintings, supervised by Siobhan Campbell and Jane Yeh.

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