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Mathew Dodwell      

Four Poems

Mathew Dodwell is a keen athlete and fencing champion and is based in Oxford, UK.


  Romance of the Rail

What does our great gladiator do,
sitting on the railway carriage?
A million people daily move along the lines.
Some lie asleep on benches, hiding from the world,
others pace about, in coats and scarves,
while some watch, and weave it into curtains,
with which to drape their minds.

We, who are about to die, salute each other,
not with a handshake, but with an empty glance:
some empty glances tell a story
of a void within a soul,
but others are less profound.

The old man loathes the youth;
the youth eyes up the girl;
others use their glance as guards
upon their wall,
with eyes as flashlights,
in a concentration camp
for those who try to concentrate,
and those who densely gather.

The trains converge from the outskirts,
like a collapsing star,
soon to be a black hole;
but where is the event horizon?
Are we already within?

We travellers go out into the crowd
and swim and soar
and in our cage break free.




I can't talk to you any more,
because when I want a cup of tea
you talk of waterfalls and ashes,
the sun setting in the jungle.

When we took a drive in the car
through the countryside
everything was what it wasn't.
You lied. But then to me

you were what you were not.
You too were a metaphor,
because I made an idea of you,
and watched that at night.

And now I wander down the streets,
an errant knight, exiled
from the land of his damsel,
condemned to watch the clear horror:

"It was like, so good," I hear them say
on the street corners.
They make similes when they can't
even make smiles.




Take my message out into the yard
and put a bullet in it.

I cannot write a poem with truth
while teenage girls stack shelves by night.

I'll write of flowers, farms, London,
or Frazer's Golden Bough.

I'll parody, pastiche, cut, copy, paste,
and twist and turn,
and make a poem:
Grecian Waste in Urn Land.

The message in the bottle,
never saves a man.
Drink, before the sun evaporates
the alcohol.

Wash away yourself, efface in the sand,
drift away like a raft, into more sea.



Just another silent night

Anno Domini.
Birth of the Lord,
Saviour of our souls.

Implicit voting on dinner table conversation:
Democracy: 51 happy, at least;
and I, always, 49.

Discourse tigers stalk
every dip of the soup spoon
into Sartre, or Barthes, or schooldays.

Conspicuous watching of the candles
while the plates are cleared,
littered with the slop of tomato sauce.

And once again we wait for the verdict.
Result known. Christ to die.
Sing a hymn. Don’t chew the fat.

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