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The Joy of Difficulty

Lavinia Greenlaw

‘did you breathe differently / as if equipped with an aqualung’

Dark Night

Ben Okri

‘On a night when my soul was damp / I found in the street a dark lamp. / The moon was cold and green, / The sky had a sinister sheen’

Passing Place

Helen Mort

‘Stall here and let the world / go past, the way / the world well might / on heather-coloured days like this,’

Song

Silvina Ocampo

‘Oh, nothing, nothing is mine. / I am like the reflections of a gloomy lake / or the echo of voices at the bottom of a blue / well when it has rained.’

woman is a construct

Angélica Freitas

‘woman is basically meant / to be a residential complex / all the same / all plastered over / just in different colors’

Flying Towards a Country of Rain

Wang Yin

‘Paper phantoms sit beside me / watching a two-hour movie.’

Three Poems

Sakutarō Hagiwara

‘What I do not have is Everything: / how is it that I won’t bear this neediness?’

PK 754

Yasmeen Hameed

‘Tell me, what is this cry of pain in the air?’

Advice Column

Kazim Ali

‘Me always untorn and enslaved / Weird notions of gender and ground / Nothing but you between me and god.’

Somewhere the Wave

Derek Mahon

‘a voice, not quite a voice, in the sea distance / listening to its own thin cetaceous whistle’

Fabric

Richard Meier

‘At midnight on our third and final date / I stepped inside her Edwardian conversion / to find a stripped-pine, bookless space.’

Ange Mlinko | First Sentence

Ange Mlinko

‘I rediscovered the efficacy of meter (or the ‘contrast between fixity and flux’) when I was stuck in a shark tunnel with my kids and was afraid I was coming down with a panic attack.’

Poem Conveyed

Jillian Weise

‘And now that he is body-less, / he speaks through us. / You could say. Although / I myself have not caught / a Pope.’

Sampati

Vikram Seth

‘Why do you cry?’

Coming Night

James Schuyler

‘what did you think of, / how long did you wait’

Solitude

Huang Canran

‘Two friends, who hadn’t met in a year / sat chatting in a house.’

Toboggan Run

Fiona Benson

‘What would I give / to be one of those swimmers in all this snow, / swallowed by the cold and the night’s strange radiance?’

On Jupiter Place

Nicholas Christopher

‘I didn’t know who she was anymore / maybe I never did or could –’

The Old Fuel

Emily Berry

‘And I'm / cranking out oodles of love the way an old spaghetti machine / cranks out spaghetti.’

The Burning of the Rocks

John Kinsella

‘What locked-away / state of unawareness, other life form, / brings desire to combust / out of rock exposed to flame’

Dilation

Ben Lerner

‘We need to harness the vaguely erotic disappointment that attends the realization you aren’t being followed.’

Eel Tail

Alice Oswald

‘untranslatable hissed interruptions / unspeakable wide chapped lips’

Nature Study: Spots

Kay Ryan

‘Like something / that might also / happen in the head,’

Sunday Drive Home

David Masello

‘On the drive down the Taconic, / you sleep, your head sinks then snaps / up when it reaches some reflex angle.’

What we Lost

Michael Ondaatje

‘The pattern of teeth marks on skin’

Two-Part Inventions

Anne Winters

‘The same way Bach’s motive splays out to the right, / swoons flatly, swans it, footnotes, follows up, / talks to itself, purls, mutters, dawdles, resumes. . .’

Oak

Jamie McKendrick

‘When my father saw an advert in the Echo / for a big house at a peppercorn rent / he rang.’

Coronation

Gillian Allnutt

‘We waited quietly for the Queen who wasn’t there’

Saturday Night

Lavinia Greenlaw

‘Do they dance for those creatures / whose unmade selves / come unbuttoning out of the dark?’

Meeting the psychiatrist’s wife

Lorraine Mariner

‘The psychiatrist’s wife / has a dress the colour / of that bottle of claret / you shouldn’t have drunk / last night.’

Apparition

Mark Doty

‘an orange plastic basket of compost / down from the top of the garden – sweet dark, / fibrous rot, promising’

Trick

Sam Willetts

‘The unexceptional mystery takes place: / around eleven, love turns to matter’

Bird of Fire

Rowan Ricardo Phillips

‘No more, no longer the sweet difference / Between real and dream I knew.’