Stephen Robertson

Slanting Lines


This concordance provides an index to every word in the poems, excluding a list of common "stopwords".  It may be useful in finding a half-remembered poem, and perhaps in looking at the usage of words in the poems as a whole.  It will be readable only on a large screen.


A cloppy sea // Lose pay cap, //
O palace spy.  // Lay pop case // plea as copy.  // Ape calypso // place
/ towards the river.  A line of ancient
oaks // (one blasted trunk is hollow through, and can be climbed // in
pebble-dunes protects // a calmer green
oasis , band of salt-marsh // where barn-owls hunt their prey.  But not
rder to allow Judith to sit down.  They
obey her, all shapes and sizes of New Yorkers, like lambs.  It is a me
see?  Is there something there?  // Some
object or event which holds her stare?  // Or is it just the clarity of
life: // not cancer, but capricorn.  //
Objective // An exobladder.  // Strapped to my thigh // with elastic an
ty.  // An abrogation of my autonomy.  //
Objective // In my groin and in my mind’s eye:  // A tube inside a tube
e // Yellow liquid flows.  // Subjective/
objective // Tap left open.  // Oh bugger!  // What was it, then, from w
Nuisance.  // Pain? no, not really.  //
Objective // Yellow liquid flows.  // Subjective/objective // Tap left
aved from all sorts of deconstructed //
objects : defunct household gadgets, // broken furniture, shelves no lo
taste; // rather, look forward to final
oblivion — // when the time comes, I might add, not just yet.  //
bour.  My // family playing, completely
oblivious .  //
… and one poet // Margaret Thatcher //
observed that her natu- // ral son and heir // was Tony Blair.  // Nige
ew York woman, sitting on a bench seat,
observes the situation, and promptly, busily, without rising from her
// A // The fall drew blood.  // No such
obvious culprit here, // except for age, pure and simple.  No rage— //
can mark its end with such a strong and
obvious rhyme // that even if my audience hear it spoken aloud rather
lunch in my haversack.  // Climb by the
obvious route from the valley, with // Derwent behind me and scrambles
mbridge crematorium, // dressed for the
occasion , // we read the flower-borne messages // and talked to relati
bend or hitch or bead?  // Some earlier
occasion when // our life-lines must have crossed, // some passing cha
The wind feeds us, makes us strong.  //
Occasionally , I catch glimpses // of the ranks ahead.  // But mostly, I
with dittoed offspring.  Yet it will //
occasionally not breed true.  Now strife: // the different dittoes must
ee, the newsprint said.  // The previous
occupant , known as Mister Gray, // (easier than his proper name of Gou
ut could not be allowed // to remain in
occupation of that space.  // And so, for two successive summer holiday
the wild wind // and borne on the blue
ocean .  // In the beginning I am small and playful, like the wind.  // I
we going?  // Something is changing: the
ocean // is bottomless no longer.  // I feel something // never felt be
// One to forty-five million:  Pacific
Ocean // Marianas Trench, Macquarie Ridge, Mendocino Seascarp // the s
stars and the darkness by night, // the
ocean , the blue-green-grey-black ocean, // the bottomless, endless oce
// the ocean, the blue-green-grey-black
ocean , // the bottomless, endless ocean.  // Where are we going?  // Som
black ocean, // the bottomless, endless
ocean .  // Where are we going?  // Something is changing: the ocean // i
, ravines descending, under the sky.  //
Oceans , rivers, narrow channels, torrents, // tarns, and streams slow-
is hat to fend off the rain.  // What an
odd game—to swallow the rain!  // He swallowed the rain to put out the
f Gouriet) // had come as a child sixty-
odd years before // (well before the start of the first world war).  //
Ode to the yeast wind // flour, water, mix well // mollycoddle for one
until the following night at least.  //
Odysseus ' sirens, of course // can offer no such message.  Theirs // i
.  // Odysseus' sirens, of course // can
offer no such message.  Theirs // is a one-way invitation to the rocks
ted paper, dip-pen, ink.  // Branch post
office , penny stamp.  // I love you.  // Papered bedsit.  Send a letter. 
shed // with a still?  Local // excise
officer takes to // dropping by unannounced.  // Catch them at it – //
ain, and fill // the world with dittoed
offspring .  Yet it will // occasionally not breed true.  Now strife:  //
is it that // this latter-day fruit so
often disappoints?  // Did I just dream the taste?  // But no.  Once in
twentieth-century American poet, // Mr
Ogden Nash, and carry on without much attention to metre, until I can
/ how in hell did he evade the line?  //
Oh bugger!  Now we have to get away.  //
bjective/objective // Tap left open.  //
Oh bugger!  // What was it, then, from which I just emerged?  // Did I j
Post truth // ‘
Oh Mirror that hangs on the wall // who is the fairest of all?’  // The
piss and snot and sweat and spittle.  //
Oh , people spread!  Quick, guys, an ecstasy of fumbling, // building t
pencil or pen or charcoal, // paints in
oils on hardboard.  // — // 1973.  Six-year-old Emily visits.  // At hom
ll off.  // We are not so far behind.  //
Old age ain’t no place for sissies.  // —Bette Davis //
no gems nor coins nor jewels; just the
old // and weathered hills, created by some force // beyond imaginatio
beginning // reiterates a pattern // as
old as the hills // each iteration // shifts the sand, carves the coas
e flickering light.  // Nearly-five-year-
old Colin // needed a lavatory, and I had to leave the fire for a whil
s on hardboard.  // — // 1973.  Six-year-
old Emily visits.  // At home, two days later, // she says to her dad /
Limerick // There was an
old Fellow of Girton // who always made love with his shirt on.  // Say
Fancy that // There was an
old fellow who swallowed his hat.  // Just fancy that—swallowed his hat
room for one more.  // Now it happens my
old friend is crowned mayor of London, he // goes by the rubrik of Bor
or passing cloud // more meetings with
old friends // more talks, more silences // more sleeps, more sleeples
// and who were my companions, pray?  //
Old friends, new friends did I meet?  // I cannot say.  // And when we p
// A pair of cast-iron supports for an
old // high-level lavatory cistern, wonderfully // ornate.  A pump and
h his shirt on.  // Saying “Now that I’m
old , // I do feel the cold— // and my breathing is rather uncertain.” 
cross my five- // or eight- or ten-year-
old imagination.  // It stands within a grove of trees, a very few // o
one they easily win—but // there was an
old man called Michael Finnegan— // crowds stopped by his strange shen
Beginagain // There was an
old man called Michael Finnegan.  // He grew whiskers on his chin—but /
out and comfort in—but // there was an
old man called Michael Finnegan.  // The wind came up and blew him in a
kling, searching in—but // there was an
old man called Michael Finnegan— // thought his profile needed broaden
n in a new pair of boots, we buried the
old pair somewhere on one of the passes high above Borrowdale in what
s, // swollen with spring melt.  But an
old pine forest // always provides a bridge.  The trunks // of fallen
give it some taxpayer funding, and get
old saint // George of the Chancel to throw in some too.”  // So the pr
tter the ashes // in a wild part of the
old South London cemetery.  // Perhaps I should plant // some box or ho
Daydream Dale Journey // From Ilkley’s
old stone bridge I trace a path // against the stream, back up the riv
t, this dark night?  // Not to return to
old // ways—that age // has passed.  What should // we salvage from it
under // as we skip on the backs of the
older ones.  // The wind grows steady and purposeful.  // We form into r
ecture of river drives meal chicken, //
Olive dish dried meat floss stir fries a leaf mustard.  // The small bo
apparition?  // Don’t be silly, that’s … 
omigod , it’s a cockroach!  Help!  Help!  //
m sublime— // Britten’s Ceremony or the
ones from Kings.  // If I can filter out the rest, the aural grime, //
m sublime, // Britten’s Ceremony or the
ones from Kings.  // Whipped wide awake by what the thunder said // fla
five, three and two.  // But for the two
ones I must cheat.  // Rage, // rage // against // the dying // of the
at the seventh layer consists mostly of
ones that do not exist // but need‡ to be synthesised.  Some of them d
// as we skip on the backs of the older
ones .  // The wind grows steady and purposeful.  // We form into rows an
rrow’s blackberry-and-apple pie // —the
ones you ate straight off the bush are saved forever).  // At the end o
pill // your precious hoard (I mean the
ones you will deliver // for tomorrow’s blackberry-and-apple pie // —t
rtheless I draw the line // at dropping
onto Isaac’s head.  // His inspiration is not mine // (the apple said).
og, the full nine yards: turn the paper
onto its side and write each line // in something approaching or aping
, the sky is clear.  // Across the wood,
onto the beach.  We hear // the gulls, and faintly, far away, the chur
ahead of me.  // Out of the pastures and
onto the fell side, still // climbing the contours and catching my bre
spray from our tops, // drives us ever
onward .  // Where are we going, so fierce and so fast?  // I know only t
me.  // Like the asteroid // barrelling
onwards , to wipe us out in // ten or a thousand or maybe a million yea
ide reveals the deep black mud // which
oozes softly up between our toes.  Across the river // lies the lagoon
sand.  Eastwards we turn, // along the
open beach, in rich sea air.  // Look up, look up, my love—the sky is c
one // in motion // sun on skin // door
open // breathe in.  // Now begin.  //
nine the house was lit // by gas, with
open fires the only heat.  // The lino on the hall floor had been laid
housand-year stream // narrow stream //
open moor // deep lake // high mountain // wide sea // close forest //
ws.  // Subjective/objective // Tap left
open .  // Oh bugger!  // What was it, then, from which I just emerged?  /
cool clear air.  // Beyond the scree the
open path leads on, // a gentler walk, to bare bleak Malham Tarn.  // T
what has come about, but to close // an
open sore, renew our sense of // time, rebuild the day.  //
y-coloured earths.  // In forests and in
open spaces // there are times // when the imagination fires.  // Pots
he waxing light, the spring rain.  Throw
open // the fire-coloured temptations, welcome in // the roaming bees.
age // has a mouth like a garage— // he
opens it ever so wide // and you can see all the junk inside. // grey
Lockdown // Here’s a first-rate
opportunity — // Isolation for immunity— // To indulge in the felicity
lease choose from the following nine //
options : if you want the tempest // please press one; for love’s lab
the bulges, // not yet decipherable, //
orange and penny.  // Brandy, a candle: // heat till it catches fire, /
ound the stone // twist to separate.  //
Orange , lemon, lime: // equatorially // squeeze the juice // leave the
mac road.  // The walled paddock and the
orchard , // the apple on the tree, the windfall in the grass.  // What
under the weight.  // Wander through the
orchard , watch // the apple clusters sway, // the clouds scud past, //
// (bringing the cheque and the postal
order ).  // Rhythmic verses with echoed refrain // in the rhythmic clat
her seat, makes everyone shuffle up in
order to allow Judith to sit down.  They obey her, all shapes and size
, and again in the Klondike in 1896, in
order to make proper San Francisco bread, prospectors would carry with
lines are forming, breaking, forming //
ordered chaos with a raucous song:  // A thousand geese are flying into
// for nails and screws.  At some more
ordered // stage of my life (certainly long before // the children arr
hough the sense is raw, // to questions
orderly , while exuding care.  // Voices from the curtained bed next doo
South London standoff // An
ordinary suburban junction.  // Narrow side road curves to join // a be
at college // Sergei Prokofiev and Carl
Orf // still at school // Aaron Copland and Kurt Weill // in their cot
ine of those same firs // looks vaguely
oriental .  // Since then, of course, the bracken // has been ploughed,
; doors; drains // One to ten:  Tiles //
Ormeaux on Bastille; Ormeaux on Rioja; Ormeaux on Lagoon // taps; pipe
Ormeaux on Bastille; Ormeaux on Rioja;
Ormeaux on Lagoon // taps; pipes // One to one // You are here //
e to ten:  Tiles // Ormeaux on Bastille;
Ormeaux on Rioja; Ormeaux on Lagoon // taps; pipes // One to one // Yo
-level lavatory cistern, wonderfully //
ornate .  A pump and valves from a washing machine.  // An electric fan.
thirty million:  Eurasia // Kuril’skiye
Ostrova ; Kirgiz Step; Karakoram Ra // countries; seas // One to ten mi
e merry wives of windsor, four; // five
othello ; six for king lear; // seven hamlet; eight macbeth; nine // fo
rdly thus.  // Some miles are ten, while
others swiftly pass.  //
// that only roughly match the map.  At
others , though, // we have to guess.  // The woods are full of streams,
t for me, it is at least a Fire.  // The
others too I love—Earth, Water, Air—but Fire // is something else agai
ee the nuts it sheds) // on the grove’s
outer edge, contains our own // tree-house, a canted deck of ancient p
ought to be.  // So perhaps they will //
outlive us.  //
eld again.  // How many friends have you
outlived ?  Eventually // the Sheffield ties become more tenuous, // le
roach road to the Kröller-Müller museum
outside Amsterdam.  The Hermitage in Leningrad in Soviet days.  Kettle
has warmed the room // against the cold
outside .  // (But that was forty years ago // —these days his hair is w
f light, the glowing // grass and trees
outside her window, warming // in the sun?  Or maybe nothing—maybe she
ide.  // The sun and wind upon the trees
outside …  // I try to listen, but my musing strays.  // His voice is liv
an be measured by the level mark on the
outside of the kettle.  Never fill the kettle above the MAX level and
silly, that’s just a branch of the tree
outside , scraping the window.  // That waft of scent?  A malodourous re
hions are missing // from the sofa just
outside the door.  // It really is very annoying— // I hope we don’t lo
er grass, towards // some distant point
outside the picture frame.  // What does she see?  Is there something t
the front— // Nails: tacks, panel pins,
ovals and round; // Screws: small, size 6, size 8, large.  // Beside it
.  (But when stewed overnight // in the
oven of the pre-war Aga, they will emerge // a startling deep red, and
r gales.  // Was I shipwrecked?  Or cast
overboard to avert shipwreck?  // I cannot now recall.  // Generations a
shattered window pane.  // There was an
overcrowded hospital.  // There were the children to look after— // the
north the rain teems down // enough to
overflow // the river Don and flood the plain.  // The light is fading
said.  // Rain rattles on the rooftiles
overhead // and beats against the window with the wind.  // Whipped wid
to understand // the stars and planets
overhead // as well as actions close at hand // (the apple said), // t
Sharp lines // High
overhead , the geese are flying out // on their twice-a-day migration b
d trading sailors // ply back and forth
overhead .  Was I carried for trade?  // Or in payment of taxes?  Or was
// is hard as stone.  (But when stewed
overnight // in the oven of the pre-war Aga, they will emerge // a sta
th voices human, animal, machine.  // An
owl , a leaping fish, a fox afar— // night-time noises permeate the air
oasis, band of salt-marsh // where barn-
owls hunt their prey.  But not for long // —impermanence’s permanence
of string.  // I must confess to having
owned // long long ago, that icon of // a time and maybe social group
d rounded as if on the shoulders of its
owner , but actually empty. // The sitting room of our house
rsh, the sedge and the samphire, // the
oyster -catcher, the egret, the gliding gull.  // What do they know, the
ge up the beach.  // At water’s edge the
oyster -catchers, gulls // compete for surface scraps.  The beach is go
-cast spell.  // That book will take you
o’er a stormy fell // with her who to her lover’s side makes haste:  //
der shoots may venture forth // On weed-
o’er -run Shalott?  // She who hath this garden laid // —Nurturing the w