Four poems by Graham Clifford

Here we feature a few poems from Well by Graham Clifford. Enjoy!

‘These are pitch-perfect poems powered by luminous and revealing images, a razor sharp voice and a beguilingly dark humour. There is irony too and witty insights. Graham is a poet’s poet, with a mastery of syntax and form and a keen awareness of the writer’s need to observe. An immensely readable collection, with a great deal to admire and enjoy.’ Anna Saunders

Resusci Anne

I am simply the latest to come to you
with my frantic efforts at restarting your heart,
adrenaline-breath in through the lips
that Baudelaire compared to La Joconde’s.

Everything burns internally when
I Google you, for images only, everything
since they fished you from the Seine
by the Quai de Louvre, causing a hole

in humanity; we couldn’t cope with
this loss. Countless corporations
and attempts we have made on your likeness,
inconnu. Smiling and concentrated,

black and white and in high def,
in water, on land,
scenarios and death masks,
the rucksack of Baby Annies

you gave birth to; decapitated-you
French kissed; a trunk, you goad us
implying you could still be reanimated
if we keep thumping on your improved chest

more lifelike in its trademark death.
Perhaps it is this handing on
that is the saving, Anne. A toy maker
and a doctor made you. Breathe. 1,2,3…

Nearly Normal Dream

There was nothing to my dream, except
there were two of everything.

Two double basses; two soups.
When I had to leave you both again
and opened the doors
two brutal worlds rejected my double efforts.

I woke up drenched by twice the sadness.
Where my other heart was ached.


Divers fan and fuss silt to reveal a spire tip from a village they say sank for a reason:
we’re sinking.
My daughter’s anemone fingers splay and clench under a thin layer of sleep;
myoclonic jerks, eye-whites, as outside,
bean plants stretch up and out, urging away like we do, sickened at first
by our own seedy origins.
Get away! genes insist. You will never get over that pained, crouching creep
of bad-back Alsatians. This bench
may well have been where you loved to sit and rest but, if they chloroformed
the street and switched a maple
for a larch, are you claiming you would notice? How far down till you find
a significance? How far down
do we own? And above? I might one day wake and just go but I won’t. To look
up at the blue, blue sky –
who would have guessed all the blood stains, the flesh and jumble of scrags
words totter on? My teacher
was right: those books over-reached me, but if I slow the last drip, it backs up
a perforation in the shower rose
with the room, the fixtures, me, the window, everything outside, a jet and clouds
elongated, cleaned up. Perfect.

Li Po in New Look

I was remembering lines of Li Po
in New Look to the cute teenager-y lyrics
like liking a neck shiny with perfume
and the girl in the lingerie photo seemed to be saying
I love you not I want to suck you inside out
this time; I’d seen her before, backing
away from me in empty rooms in magazines
or turning to a leafless tree, with hats on.

And our daughter had a blue vein
across her nose, still angry
from the gristly pop of birth.
She daily tried on a new face
and had now found the perfect Edwardian
incredulity for the rows of versions of a shoe
they keep designing,
tweaking the same to try and catch up with
a desire that should be allowed to fly away,
worrying at the new
like grabbing at tap water, or a thought
made of low rumbling words for a second,
like hope. And Li Po in New Look.

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