Friday Poem – Bitumen and Rust


This Friday, our poem Bitumen and Rust, comes from Graham Clifford’s collection The Hitting Game. The vibrancy of Clifford’s voice and the immediacy of his claims upon our attention are clear in this lively collection. Incidents are approached from disarmingly intimate and entertainingly oblique angles. These are urban poems where nature appears like a strange intrusion. There is gentleness and empathy, humour and pathos, with poems full of unexpected dramas and fresh enchantments, which provoke as well as delight.

Bitumen and Rust

In the end you didn’t buy an angle-poise light
called lack – it must mean something aspirational
in another language. Driving home, a green-brass prick

of a church wedged in-between semis began to glow
as if a prayer just got answered. As if. Polystyrene
tea in cup holders. Dirty little seas rich as slicks

of sewage-juice in ruts we trudged in a landscape
ruined with bitumen and rust, by slung piglet carcasses
still eyeing fly-tipped, shoddy white goods.

There is more than one disputed memory
We tug apart like foxes: under branches
Sweating out winter, the colder, wet side of freezing

I found clay pigeon shrapnel like smashed, thick 45s.
You first saw the sun drown in two ponds at the outskirts
Where, where we know turned in to where we don’t.

Spuds and beet surfaced from dirt, sick bits;
it was me that bit an onion like an apple. Barbed wire –
you slam on the brake so as not to kill

a man selling premature roses in the road.
Everyone is full of music to make it better.
Jittery clouds scarper to the margin like bath foam,

soap-touched. Suddenly, above us is baby blue.
You won’t be around forever; laugh: tea –
barbed wire that disappeared into tree bark.

Get it in time for Christmas! The Hitting Game is available to buy with 20% off when you join our online book club.

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