Two Poems | Tim Liardet | Granta

Two Poems

Tim Liardet

A Sidewalk Vanished Under Flowers and Grass 

A pedestrian was required to wear on its back a red target
and our research tells us of stamina, postural stress
and the history, the arts, of the bunion. As if at last
to name a part of us that is vestigial, let us call it
a pedestrian. Remember? One who progressed on foot?
One bereft of turbine and wheel, whose right heel always wore out
quicker than its left. One who measured locomotion
against a stress fracture or tendonitis, a love of oxygen
against a shin split. One for whom a speed bump presented
the paradox of having to speed up, for whom an insole
of moss stuffed inside the socks to reassure the feet
also brought with it the whole field. Think, if you can,
of a cranium as prone to thunderbolts as to hail. Think
of the notches of the spine that were inclined to rotate
at the very moment they resisted rotation, every toe
at too great a distance from a head that passed way up,
way up in the clouds. Vertigo! A pedestrian. Remember?
One of the last that could tell a cloud from a cloud-in-puddle,
alfalfa from a weed, a cricket from a viola. Head up,
head down, it strolled ever so slowly out of the frame
with the suggestion of a limp. Extinct as an umbrella.





To the Crime Lords of the Syndicates

Dressed up in its Renaissance armour of scales
your enchanted beast’s a cure for possession by ogres:
it will keep away the ugly men, the lumpy men,
who are as horribly large as expected.
It is both chrism and cash cow, but does not know it is,
from the inside much like any other gaudy church
with turquoises, with yellows, flowing from the top.
Though it has no tradition for satire,
its fifty centimetre tongue is twice the length of its body
and just the tip might manage a no. Cut it out
and weigh it in the pans, it is a corrective for human guilt;
with the tail come the powers of divination.
When you pluck at its nine hundred scales one by one
what in each case have you got? A sturgeon’s egg?
A priest’s fingernail? A plectrum that
is shaped from peridot, a cure for elephantiasis?
Against the knives, the vat, the dollars per kilo
see how your article rolls up snout to belly into a ball
like a gauntlet of metal, as if to say no:
tucked up inside it in a brood are viruses
it dreams are courtiers smaller than any bacteria,
wearing their spiky costumes, their flyspeck of gold.


Image ©  Ashok Boghani

Tim Liardet

Twice shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, for The World Before Snow (Carcanet), and The Blood Choir (Seren), Tim Liardet has produced eleven collections of poetry to date. He has also been longlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize, received several Poetry Book Society Recommendations, a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice, an Arts Council England Writer’s Award, a Society of Authors Award, a Hawthornden Fellowship, four Pushcart nominations, and various other awards. His poems have appeared or are due to appear in The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Slate Magazine, North American Review, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Poetry Review, Poetry London, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent, and many other journals. Arcimboldo’s Bulldog: New and Selected Poems appeared from Carcanet in 2018. In September 2019, he received an Authors’ Foundation work-in-progress award from the Society of Authors. From 2015-2018, he was a Poetry Book Society Selector and is currently Professor of Poetry at Bath Spa University.

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