A poem by Graham Clifford


Despite photos, up close
you are not taking care of yourself:
hair greasy as barbed-wire wool.

Your once skinny frame
is bulky at the shoulders end,
and lugworm veins bulge
on the backs of your hands.
What a thud you would make,
falling down now.

I feed the Wahl trimmer, mow
a broadening wicket
till you are Presley enlisted, or Travis Bickle
about to always be lucky with mistakes.
Your ear is rigid with sarsaparilla –
does this one hot and red mean something good?

We come across all the grey, dumbstruck as Eloi.
I steady myself on your cold, man’s shoulder
to trim straight.

You say this good weather only ever reminds you
of previous good weather
so I am sheering you of the past,
catching it on today’s newspaper
and you are morphing: victim; perpetrator.

Finally, you pose and flex in the mirror
as if entering the city for the first time:
lighter; streamlined. Shorn.
Yet another you
only, this time
(from The Hitting Game, forthcoming 2014 Seren)
Graham Clifford‘s pamphlet Welcome Back to the Country is published by Seren, who will also be publishing his book, The Hitting Game, next year. Graham is a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing MA. He blogs here.