Seamus Heaney, ‘The First Words’

The first words got polluted
Like river water in the morning
Flowing with the dirt
Of blurbs and the front pages.
My only drink is meaning from the deep brain,
What the birds and the grass and the stones drink.
Let everything flow
Up to the four elements,
Up to water and earth and fire and air.





Adrienne Rich ‘Endpapers’



If the road’s a frayed ribbon strung through dunes
continually drifting over
if the night grew green as sun and moon
changed faces and the sea became
its own unlit unlikely sound
consider yourself lucky to have come
this far Consider yourself
a trombone blowing unheard
tones a bass string plucked or locked
down by a hand its face articulated
in shadow, pressed against
a chain-link fence Consider yourself
inside or outside, where-
ever you were when knotted steel
stopped you short You can’t flow through
as music or
as air


What holds what binds is breath is
primal vision in a cloud’s eye
is gauze around a wounded head
is bearing a downed comrade out beyond
the numerology of vital signs
into predictless space


The signature to a life requires
the search for a method
rejection of posturing
trust in the witnesses
a vial of invisible ink
a sheet of paper held steady
after the end-stroke
above a deciphering flame