Todd Swift



and feel as if I am walking on a cold April evening

when the moon is about, and moving the clouds

as childhood crowds in, brought to me by the air,

May air on this occasion, and so beautiful a colour;

I think of a question of poets, and readers now—

occasioned by this event (so slight, so full)—

are poets to be next-door types or strangers

brimful with what’s out of the mind, unreal

or a tipping over of one then the other, sometimes

all of the above; are they (I mean myself here

to be honest) credible witnesses or better for trying

to inflate the picture? One wants zoo animals wild,

one wants the cage to be wide, one wants rain to fall
occasionally, only; one wants to have control of things
that are, being natural, less falcon and more storm—
some force can be tamed and brought lightly to an arm

and other slight motions of the air swarm to harm, bring
lightning that burns the barns and crazes the mares.
Straw singed by such currents may smoulder, ignite
later, as a memory can burn under the hay for years

before setting the street ablaze with recollection
of a Canadian walk on an ice-cold morning alone
when the dawn-blue clarity of the time burned
like breath; a dawn as near to dark as this London dusk;

to place trust in a poem that tells this story (untimely,
barely challenging or unusual) is to draw in to the hearth
and cup a warmth to the face, enjoying what burns kindling;
a mind can build a fire that never grew in a forest or was cut,

sledded down and quartered in a mill, haloed in its own dust;
the green yearning of this thought and then those that follow
has no precedence in any occurrence for another; rings hollow
or rings a dull bell or perhaps, fortunately, peels like Sunday—

depends on what sky one has walked away from home under
on a summer evening when the wind is just rising a bit
and there is a feeling both of June and September’s chill
merged around the corner, and recurring, as water in an estuary
may swirl and forge a mesh of temperatures in its white making.





TODD SWIFT is Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing, at Kingston University, London. He is Director and Editor of new small press Eyewear Publishing. The author of eight collections of poetry, Swift is editor or co-editor of a dozen anthologies, most recently Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam, with a preamble from David Lehman. His poems have appeared in numerous international publications, such as Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Review (London), and The Globe and Mail (Toronto).  Swift has been Oxfam's poet-in-residence, based in Marylebone, since 2004.  His widely-read blog, Eyewear, has been archived by The British Library.  His PhD is from the University of East Anglia, and is concerned with poetic style and the British poets of the 1940s.