Two poems by Alasdair Paterson

Two poems from Silent Years
Bleak House

Dickens was in the house.

Bleak to me, we’d say, jostling
for bed space, warming up,
while fog roiled off the monotype.
Bleak to me. Whose turn is it anyway?
I think it might be yours.

I’d thought the sound of you
hardly existed now, except
in oxidised memory tapes
or some of your sister’s cadences.
But part the pages and there
you are again, doing the Victorians
in different voices, with your own,
your very own, inimitable laugh,
a tear or two, you to the life.

Bleak to me
. And then of course
there’s the matter of my own voice
I haven’t heard for a while – could you
do that one too, just for old time’s sake?

The boy is
scared of snowglobes:
their turned-round worlds
where white is up and at it
and there go our bright
palaces and funfairs
while the likes of us
slip towards free-fall.

I want to say
it’ll settle down
but he already knows
about next times.

The boy is
scared of snowglobes.
I want to say
me too, me too.

But I won’t say it,
not out loud.
That would only
scare us both.
Alasdair Paterson’s most recent collections are On The Governing Of Empires (Shearsman Books 2010), Brumaire And Later (Flarestack Poets 2011), Elsewhere Or Thereabouts (Shearsman Books 2014) and My Life As A Mad King (Oystercatcher 2016). Silent Years, a new pamphlet, is forthcoming from Flarestack Poets. He lives in Exeter, where he presents the monthly Uncut Poets reading series and chairs the annual Exeter Poetry Festival.