Poetry by Sue Vickerman

THE IKEA CAFÉ, SHANGHAI

 

Winter scene: brightly floodlit building site

a socket between long, strong verticals –

all the new high-rises barricading out light,

a brick-built apartment block, red banners

billowing down it – zhong guo, something ren, xiao,

toy-townish forecourt, little privets in pots

.

 

as night falls; as oblong windows pop awake,

constellate; as the white lights of trucks whip along the

speedway-on-stilts that spans the horizon where steel

is strung taut between pylons way up from the streets’

crazy looping messes of wires – un-disentangleable

black lacework crudded with demolition dust

.

 

till deep darkness falls at last over the land

and the geometry of tower blocks fades,

turns toy-sized, twinkly, and here I am.

Perhaps this whole thing’s been a stupid plan,

this workaday Tuesday sipping coffee, tapping along

to a pop song, church bells and robins a world away

.

 

this Christmas Day in Ikea, Pudong,

tissue stars twirling over the tills.

.

.

.

 

PEN POISED FOR THE DAY’S FIRST BLACK LOOP

 

The bedroom of the lighthouse

full of double bed and dull north light.

A wooden-shuttered window. Desk.

Desk lamp. Bulk of clothing

as big as a big man hung on

the door hooks – no place else for clothes.

The bed is all. Desk small and wedged

right up to this curved window,

daylight bathing the room in dullness.

.

 

Pen still poised for the day’s first black loop

I look out at sea, at the slow strobe of light

in the dull light, how it strokes the grey

with a beam of white. Grey filling my page.

A coffee ring has rusted it. Beyond is world;

in here just morning, looming, and beyond

the radio noise, the huge sea shushing.

Then, out of the white, the shush,

the grey, the sea, the light, leaps

a black loop. I pen First porpoise of the day.

.

.

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YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE

 

After Peter Porter’s nuclear attack poem, 1983

 

meet on the canal path

twelve noon

no cause for alarm

.

 

(instructs the town mayor

a short man

from the top step

of the cenotaph

through the megaphone)

a mutation has hit Bradford

the order is head south-east fast

avoiding Doncaster

walk in convoy

there’ll be boats to Ostend

bring sandwiches

pack other food that will last

essential medicine

one toy per child

family photographs

no wheeled luggage

strictly rucksacks

these rules must be stuck to

check twitter for updates

wear weatherproofs

and strong boots

snow is predicted

important note

this convoy is restricted to

passport-holders

.

.

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About the contributor

Sue Vickerman
Latest work: translation of TWENTY POEMS BY KATHRIN SCHMIDT, Arc Publications, 2020. Poem translations in The Poetry Review (UK), Stockholm Review and nomansland. Publications include five poetry collections, four works of fiction. Stories, articles and poems in The Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement, The Rialto, Stand, The North, Smiths Knoll, Mslexia and anthologies. suevickerman.eu

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