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Three Poems by Ian Pople
PN Review 97, May - June 1994
Three times in the weekend
I will visit the baker's; sesame rolls
balloon in the palm of my hand.
At the dry-cleaner's I admire
the varnish of wrapping
clinging to a jacket.
In the picture framer's
one colour placed upon another
rises like roofs of Land Rovers
above the dry-stone wall.
Sheep turn and bite the tics
in curlicues of fleece. Grass
or snow, sheep are picked out
on the field. My step-son
runs back from his school,
in his head he scythes
his enemies with his school bag;
fallen like forty goats
the village had in 1926;
like the curate and his five chickens.
The trees survive their gardeners' guesses;
the cut white branches hang
upon the wall; sunbeds rest
on fallen, plastic leaves.
Socks and underwear, mats for pets
catch on the trees. They grow
beside the sunbathers' jokes,
a lazy wall, a house, a pile of bricks.
Night after night, the gardeners
queue at the post office
to remit their money. Our teaboy
hasn't seen his wife in three years;
has a daughter over two years old.
I pick up stones to ward off strays,
and walk the sand-driven alleys
over to a neighbouring compound.
Park View Road
Light clung to umbrellas
In the studio; I had my hand
upon her shoulder, she wore
her hair up and a mohair jumper.
In our mother's bungalow
that photo stands upon the wooden box
of cutlery my sister also gave.
Behind the Inkerman the bowling green
was always empty. Click, click,
went the pub sign. Four chestnut trees
with just bare earth beneath them
stood beside the A12.
In rubberised cowboy suits
The landlord's son and I
threw sticks into the leaves.
Sometimes chestnuts dropped
like broad beans from their velvet.
All the girls who lived
In our road grew long legs
And left. Two of them
played records for the half-time crowd
at Portman Road. Under
an elder bush Angela and I
agreed to marry. Ten years later,
when I'd come off a Vespa
and smashed my ankle, she was nursing
in the hospital but I could not speak.
I was clinically bored;
the St John's ambulance man,
I'd crashed beside, who tied my legs
together before he picked me
off the road, came to see me
in the ward. I simply sat and stared.
Ian Pople was born in Ipswich and educated at the British Council, Athens, and the universities of Aston, Manchester and Nottingham. He has taught English in secondary and higher education in UK, Sudan, Greece and Saudi Arabia. He taught at the University of Manchester for over twenty years. Ian’s first Carcanet collection, Spillway, was published in 2022.
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