Here now, it’s hard to believe this place –
yellowed wallpaper, towels hung over
every decent lager except the guest –
is where we first met and that blur

of brilliance – a world from this pint
and the torn fabric of a duff pool table –
meant the next week, the next fortnight,
were the closest things ever get to simple.

So if this is how I know us, want us –
the two who clicked on an understanding
of close as close to sparseness, bluntness –
then that’s why, aware or drifting,

I’ve come to sit in this selfsame chair,
selfsame spot; listening to the traffic
which you must be a part of, somewhere,
pitched as it is among frantic and Orphic

while one by one the pigeons flutter off;
draining the glass and closing my book
as the lights click on, someone coughs,
and the place is good as lost, however I look.

Ben Wilkinson


The Mars Volta : L'Via L'Viaquez

Seeing Stars

Alongside a slightly lengthier piece on John Fuller's latest collection, Pebble and I, by William Wootten, the current week's TLS (29 October) contains my review of Simon Armitage's latest book, the PBS Choice (and so automatically T.S. Eliot prize-shortlisted) Seeing Stars. A new direction for his work, sure, but is it actually any good?