Stephen Robertson

Slanting Lines

Concordance

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.

N

a canted deck of ancient planks, // //
nailed across two angled branches, reached // // by clambering the br
.  // // The jars hang from their lids,
nailed to // // the shelf above.  The boxes and tins are stacked //
udding carpenter) as a child // // for
nails and screws.  At some more ordered // // stage of my life (certa
taples, cuphooks, clouts // // masonry
nails , screw-eyes, picture hooks // // wallplugs, rivets, self-tappin
s and nuts and washers, // // flooring
nails , staples, cuphooks, clouts // // masonry nails, screw-eyes, pic
glued.  And labelled the front— // //
Nails : tacks, panel pins, ovals and round; // // Screws: small, size
s // // // // For Robert Graves, the
naked and the nude // // were chalk and cheese; so what would he have
t and over the line.  // // What’s in a
name ?  // // It’s been too far south all its life: // // not cancer,
er Gray, // // (easier than his proper
name of Gouriet) // // had come as a child sixty-odd years before //
eting-points // // are signposted with
names and distances // // that only roughly match the map.  At others
.  Some of them do not even have proper
names .  // // The eighth layer has not been started yet, so the only t
ath // // peignoir, charlotte’s locks,
nancy’s blushes // // drop cloth, slipper satin, worsted // // dimit
en— // // but nothing that resembles a
narrative .  // // Born nineteen-seventeen (dark days of the first worl
, under the sky.  // // Oceans, rivers,
narrow channels, torrents, // // tarns, and streams slow-flowing, und
ort // // ** because the margin is too
narrow for a full report // // Turns out† that the seventh layer cons
rassy bank that is // // the cliff.  A
narrow sandy beach past which // // the falling tide reveals the deep
/ An ordinary suburban junction.  // //
Narrow side road curves to join // // a bend on a bigger road.  The p
lake // // thousand-year stream // //
narrow stream // // open moor // // deep lake // // high mountain /
-century American poet, // // Mr Ogden
Nash , and carry on without much attention to metre, until I can mark i
s and seas // // some people have some
nasty new disease.  // // They seem to want our help, but they can whi
garet Thatcher // // observed that her
natu - // // ral son and heir // // was Tony Blair.  // // Nigel Farr
another line, // // flat and sharp and
natural too: // // pale sky encounters dark sea.  // // On the sand,
oting star.  // // To the sharp senses,
nature has many sharp lines.  // //
h moonphase // // and each season (the
navigation buoys must needs // // be relocated every spring, the char
and our ship not far from land // // (
Navigation was always a difficult art, // // Though with only one shi
ys don’t wear jackets // // Shapeless,
navy blue or fawn, // // three-quarter length, or maybe short, // //
over it.  // // But today we are in the
neaps : // // even at high tide, with the mud cliffs // // above my h
Long ago // // The railway line passes
near .  // // After the engine’s noisy roar, // // coaches follow alon
leaving behind a swirling wake.  // //
Nearer , the lapwings forage up the beach.  // // At water’s edge the o
shing 60 // // My sixtieth birthday is
nearing — // // brings a thought that is far from cheering: // // tha
ges beyond the flickering light.  // //
Nearly -five-year-old Colin // // needed a lavatory, and I had to leav
I cannot say // // whether I have the
necessary skill // // to find a way.  // // And now today // // is e
fully protected in pouches around their
necks or attached to their belts.  // //
glad.”  // // The Boris is happy.  “We
need a designer with // // boldness and vision—I know just the man.  /
Lumley is pondering glumly.  “I // //
need a new project to keep me in trim— // // now the Gurkhas are happ
a full round-Britain trip.  // // I’ll
need a ton of words to fill each line from side to side, // // verbos
the kettle with the amount of water you
need as this will save electricity. // // Always make sure
, // // fire, // // and water.  // //
Need just a few more.  // // How about adding space, time, love?  // /
just the four— // // but the chemists
need many more.  // // The top of the table is sparse, but every secon
to produce a fine plan.  // // We also
need money—of course private finance will // // jump to join in, but
and blew it in again.  // // Beards may
need some clipping, shortening // // left alone they easily win—but /
ly of ones that do not exist // // but
need ‡ to be synthesised.  Some of them do not even have proper names. 
the parts of a solution.  // // All we
need to do is make connection // // alpha to beta using this equation
mbda.  // // I can’t see clearly:  I’ll
need to wander // // some way in that direction to determine // // w
/ // Nearly-five-year-old Colin // //
needed a lavatory, and I had to leave the fire for a while // // to t
el Finnegan— // // thought his profile
needed broadening // // thought he’d flaunt a bushy grin—but // // t
had to be, but it was not the memory we
needed .  // // So three months later, we met again // // on a Suffolk
edges from business are far from what’s
needed .  The // // real public benefit’s not even there.”  // // Sadi
against the blue, // // shed long thin
needles .  // // In the distance, // // gnarled broadleaf trees with t
each season (the navigation buoys must
needs // // be relocated every spring, the charts // // redrawn).  //
// Don’t be silly, that’s just the bin—
needs emptying.  // // That knocking?  Footsteps in the next room?  //
orgotten // // that this equation also
needs some zeta factor // // and my clear beta, gamma, delta connecti
le.  // // Many die—thus limiting their
needs .  // // This time, the bug’s not spread by rats and fleas // //
inance will // // jump to join in, but
needs time to come through.  // // I’ll give it some taxpayer funding,
the gap to make a join // // with the
neighbouring block, leaving a row of nine.  // // In nineteen sixty ni
a zeta factor // // in ways that I can
neither // // control nor understand. // // 3 sideways: perspiratio
Hopper Chōka // // Yellow
neon light // // spilling through plate-glass windows // // across t
/ // You’d scarcely bet he’d swallow a
net .  // // He swallowed the net to trap the hat.  // // Restart for t
swallow a net.  // // He swallowed the
net to trap the hat.  // // Restart for that.  // //
// He swallowed the hook to recover the
net .  // // You’d scarcely bet he’d swallow a net.  // // He swallowed
ake // // our sense of part and whole,
netsuke -like.  // // Bird and fish are two, and now are one: // // no
/ of the western spiral arm (which will
never be fashionable).  // // See the slime on it?  // // Wonder if I
d war, though the course of true gloves
never did run smooth.  No glove lost.  // // We have nothing to wear b
longer.  // // I feel something // //
never felt before— // // something solid underneath us // // churnin
vel mark on the outside of the kettle. 
Never fill the kettle above the MAX level and ensure that it is always
ed there, and it wasn’t just because we
never got around to it. // // On a New York subway:  Judit
ll day at her loom, // // Her mistress
never left the womb // // That was the fastness of her room.  // // O
y walked and walking talked— // // but
never once of cheese.  // //
hree // // reminds us of so much we’ll
never see.  // // Life and death are two, and now are one: // // no p
// (The cruel looking-glass that will
never show a lass // // As comely or as kindly or as young as what sh
Shingle Street // // The sea is
never still.  Even in my sleep // // I hear the ground-swell gently b
/ like the bard from Japan whose verses
never would scan, adds an extra list.  // // As we* reach the sixth an
rkness so // // cannot be good.  // //
Nevertheless I draw the line // // at dropping onto Isaac’s head.  //
es: all // // —or almost all—are duds. 
Nevertheless // // ten thousand different species rise and fall // /
ves the coastline // // into something
new // //
// // One more great change, one more
new beginning: // // a different kind of home // // here on the nort
Tide // // each
new beginning // // reiterates a pattern // // as old as the hills /
seas // // some people have some nasty
new disease.  // // They seem to want our help, but they can whistle /
se’s fragile life is there.  // // Each
new doctor asks the same once more, // // voices from the curtained b
y companions, pray?  // // Old friends,
new friends did I meet?  // // I cannot say.  // // And when we parted
rint becomes faint; // // just as each
new generation soon finds itself // // rich rediscovering Bach’s coun
ined with jagged thorns, // // seeking
new ground to conquer.  // // Spiders’ webs among the undergrowth.  //
ome dormant thing would wake and sprout
new growth.  // // And thus it was.  Just past the London Eye, // //
donated // // the reject to us for our
new home.  Or was it // // not until seven years later, the year that
’s death, a chance // // for something
new : migrate south // // to London, two grandchildren, // // and a
r face only.  As Judith had broken in a
new pair of boots, we buried the old pair somewhere on one of the pass
// Flowing Nile.  Send a letter.  // //
New papyrus, brush and ink.  // // Command a messenger.  // // I love
legs had rotted half away.  // // But a
new piece of four by two turned it into // // a perfect workbench—the
that every single play is here // // a
new production for this year // // of celebration—every line // // t
is pondering glumly.  “I // // need a
new project to keep me in trim— // // now the Gurkhas are happy—some
l.  Now send a letter.  // // Parchment,
new quill pen, and ink.  // // Employ a messenger.  // // I love you. 
ot around to it. // // On a
New York subway:  Judith and me standing as there are no seats; she is
egnant at the time.  A tiny middle-aged
New York woman, sitting on a bench seat, observes the situation, and p
They obey her, all shapes and sizes of
New Yorkers, like lambs.  It is a memory that Judith treasures for the
erly // // when my mother, acquiring a
newer model, donated // // the reject to us for our new home.  Or was
marked by a bolt embedded in // // the
Newlyn harbour wall.  // // One day, a storm will // // simply erase
Capricorn suite // // In other
news // // // Five days after Charlie Hebdo, I learn // // that som
/ // Polarity // // // First the bad
news , then the good: // // it's cancer; but it hasn’t spread.  // //
ook?  // // Coat to cleaners // // Pay
newsagent // // Bulbs for kitchen lights—CS 60W screw???—check first
no from floors.  // // (Under the lino,
newspaper // // dated 1933 // // the year Hitler came to power).  //
id // // in nineteen thirty three, the
newsprint said.  // // The previous occupant, known as Mister Gray, //
Newton’s counterfactuals // // // // You all know the story that on
make a temporary home, until // // the
next adventure.  // // (One time, though, the hollow holds // // a re
us, ready // // to defend against the
next attack.  // // Towards the river is a group of firs // // —the k
bmit tax form??  // // Check L’s dob—70
next b/day?  // // Dentist appointment—week of 10th // // Write poem
ing mud.  On the far bank // // of the
next bend, another sandy beach // // to reach by boat.  That place we
// from a dying glacier.  // // On the
next bend, the banks // // will exchange character.  // // A flowing
ountry house // // that is my mother’s
next big venture after // // producing six of us.  // // L-shaped the
air.  // // Someone snoring in the tent
next door, // // a motorcycle coursing up the lane.  // // Night-time
more // // voices coming from the room
next door.  // // For and against, and more, against and for; // // d
e, // // voices from the curtained bed
next door.  // // Responses muted, though the sense is raw, // // to
e.  // // Voices from the curtained bed
next door: // // someone else’s fragile life is there.  // //
al // // Voices from the curtained bed
next door: // // someone else’s fragile life is there.  // // Each ne
ctic // // Voices coming from the room
next door: // // thesis and antithesis, debate // // about it and ab
ait.  // // Voices coming from the room
next door:  // // Thesis and Antithesis debate.  // // In the lecture
// // That knocking?  Footsteps in the
next room?  // // Don’t be silly, that’s just the plumbing—a pipe heat
ht on cue, Queen Victoria dies.  // // (
Next time around, in the digital era // // we will take the turn on t
ound-blast— // // another train on the
next track.  // // The bogeys go: click-clack click-clack.  // // Cou
st returns // // to make a crust.  The
next two months // // are clear and fine and bitter cold.  // // Ever
ng the Derbyshire moors.  // // But the
next war comes, and D is now called up.  // // First to Hunmanby on th
and heir // // was Tony Blair.  // //
Nigel Farrage // // has a mouth like a garage— // // he opens it eve
s // // Pribble and prabble: as // //
Nigel’s marauding and // // taking two toeholds in // // Essex and K
iny light // // fading now // // dark
night // //
// // A thousand geese are flying into
night .  // //
e bridges over the road.) Sometimes at
night , // // a heavy goods train rattles the windows and plates // /
eflected in inky water, // // the cool
night air // // slows down time.  // // Now is the time // // to lie
Do not // // go gentle into that good
night . // // … and one true fib // // Here, // // now, // // in th
ief release— // // until the following
night at least.  // // Odysseus' sirens, of course // // can offer no
in basement // // Tickets for Once Sat
night —check time // // Tickets to Glasgow 6th-7th // // Camera in ba
// // the soft subliminal sibilance of
night .  // // December sounds // // Even I, atheist, find some of the
Wake // // Fast asleep // // dark
night // // dream deep // // faint light // // bird sings // // gr
er the days were short, // // and dark
night fell as we built and lit the fire // // on the dark stones, and
ness, keeping // // at bay the frights
night has in store.  // // Whether I’m lying awake or sleeping // //
lt a roaring blaze.  Then late into the
night // // I fed it all the bits that it had missed: // // fragment
r snore // // Alone in the dark of the
night // // I would’ve turned on the light...  // // But now no more—
// beneath the piles.  Then one stormy
night // // it pulls the final prop.  A hundred yards // // of man’s
rey— // // the colours that I saw last
night // // just slipped away.  // // Through passages or corridors /
A poem for free // // The
night mail rattles north to the border // // (bringing the cheque and
// // the soft subliminal sibilance of
night , // // no words, no human language in my ear, // // no voices
d // // the damaged present, this dark
night ?  // // Not to return to old // // ways—that age // // has pas
oms and halls // // and whether it was
night or day; // // the gardens, and the garden walls // // just sli
Bonfire // // Dark
night // // strike match // // tiny light // // twigs catch // //
go: click-clack click-clack.  // // At
night , the glow and flying sparks.  // // Grass on the lineside banks
y, // // the stars and the darkness by
night , // // the ocean, the blue-green-grey-black ocean, // // the b
e of Crim Tartary // // flies into the
night .  // // The paraffin stove // // casts patterns of light on the
owl, a leaping fish, a fox afar— // //
night -time noises permeate the air.  // // Someone snoring in the tent
t the blind.  // // Under canvas // //
Night -time noises permeate the air // // with voices human, animal, m
motorcycle coursing up the lane.  // //
Night -time noises permeate the air // // with voices human, animal, m
November blues // // November: 
nights are drawing in // // the day begins to go // // the clouds ar
nces // // more sleeps, more sleepless
nights , more dreams // // more seasons bleeding into seasons.  // //
t yet to be fixed // // while the long
night’s images last, // // but notched on the stick // // as the day
y slides into the mist.  // // The long
night’s images last.  // // But now the light is fading // // as the
nger.  // // I love you.  // // Flowing
Nile .  Send a letter.  // // New papyrus, brush and ink.  // // Command
to crash back down— // // you must be
nimble .  // // Later we discover // // that that was just a sideshow:
ar; // // seven hamlet; eight macbeth;
nine // // for any other choice.  You’ll find // // that every singl
he neighbouring block, leaving a row of
nine .  // // In nineteen sixty nine the house was lit // // by gas, w
wn the past— // // until the day, just
nine months gone, // // when both lines crossed an edge, // // and t
// // Please choose from the following
nine // // options: if you want the tempest // // please press one;
a row of nine.  // // In nineteen sixty
nine the house was lit // // by gas, with open fires the only heat.  /
stead I will go the whole hog, the full
nine yards: turn the paper onto its side and write each line // // in
he twentieth century only // // ninety-
nine years long.) // // Béla Bartók and Frank Bridge // // are still
January
Nineteen Hundred and One // // The century turns.  // // Right on cue
that resembles a narrative.  // // Born
nineteen -seventeen (dark days of the first world war) // // in Sheffi
block, leaving a row of nine.  // // In
nineteen sixty nine the house was lit // // by gas, with open fires t
ing else again.  // // A memory // // (
nineteen -sixty-one or so—my teens—already // // between the end of th
the hall floor had been laid // // in
nineteen thirty three, the newsprint said.  // // The previous occupan
aking the twentieth century only // //
ninety -nine years long.) // // Béla Bartók and Frank Bridge // // ar
Ninety -six and counting // // How little I really know of your life! 
tting higher and closer.  // // And the
noise .  // // A few ranks ahead, I see them // // rearing up, up, tur
frain // // in the rhythmic clattering
noise of the train.  // // Childhood journeys by rail come back // //
t of its washing cycle.  The other, the
noise // // that it made as it spun, a rhythmic staccato juddering //
ing fish, a fox afar— // // night-time
noises permeate the air.  // // Someone snoring in the tent next door,
.  // // Under canvas // // Night-time
noises permeate the air // // with voices human, animal, machine.  //
coursing up the lane.  // // Night-time
noises permeate the air // // with voices human, animal, machine.  //
ain!  Vast hall // // of city station,
noisy , full // // of people rushing there and back.  // // The bogeys
passes near.  // // After the engine’s
noisy roar, // // coaches follow along the track: // // the bogeys g
Shore // //
Nonnet // // Cold and clear.  The tide runs out, the creek // // is
t kind of home // // here on the north
Norfolk coast.  // // The wonder is that you can still laugh.  // //
In
Norfolk // // In Norfolk the sign reads slow you down // // just in
In Norfolk // // In
Norfolk the sign reads slow you down // // just in case we were drivi
re maybe—for a year and a day // // in
Norfolk where the sign reads slow you down.  // //
t chatter and meander; // // of Ellen,
Norna , or of Rosamunde.  // // Sorrow, longing, dreams pervade the pat
’s // // blitz on Sheffield.  // // In
north Africa, D is killed.  // // Later, one of the lodgers— // // Po
ing each to each: a throng // // moves
north against the fading evening light.  // // Slanting lines are form
est, // // west by north, west.  // //
North by northwest?  That was just // // Hitchcock’s joke.  // //
th, west // // North.  Go west.  // //
North by west, northnorthwest, // // northwest by north, northwest, /
led up.  // // First to Hunmanby on the
north -east Yorkshire coast // // for the requisite square-bashing.  A
North, west // //
North .  Go west.  // // North by west, northnorthwest, // // northwes
fferent kind of home // // here on the
north Norfolk coast.  // // The wonder is that you can still laugh.  //
st, northnorthwest, // // northwest by
north , northwest, // // northwest by west, westnorthwest, // // west
Square mile // // Farringdon Without (
north side) // //
he light is dimming now.  // // Further
north the rain teems down // // enough to overflow // // the river D
for free // // The night mail rattles
north to the border // // (bringing the cheque and the postal order).
by west, westnorthwest, // // west by
north , west.  // // North by northwest?  That was just // // Hitchcoc
North , west // // North.  Go west.  // // North by west, northnorthwe
North.  Go west.  // // North by west,
northnorthwest , // // northwest by north, northwest, // // northwest
/ North by west, northnorthwest, // //
northwest by north, northwest, // // northwest by west, westnorthwest
/ northwest by north, northwest, // //
northwest by west, westnorthwest, // // west by north, west.  // // N
thnorthwest, // // northwest by north,
northwest , // // northwest by west, westnorthwest, // // west by nor
// west by north, west.  // // North by
northwest ?  That was just // // Hitchcock’s joke.  // //
each interval passing by // // may be
notched on a stick.  // // Not yet to be fixed // // while the long n
he long night’s images last, // // but
notched on the stick // // as the day slides into the mist.  // // Th
ahogany, archive // // plummett // //
Note :  Fifty colours of Farrow & Ball // //
else arrayed?  // // I think he’d add a
note to his remark— // // in truth, how cheesy is the sometime chalk.
st, they sound; // // they write their
notes , interpret what they find.  // // The possibility of peace is no
Notes to a life // // Milk // // Sausages or chops // // Veg—brocco
y-hay, blow us away // // And there is
nothing here for me // // Give me some wind to blow us away // // Ju
w, warming // // in the sun?  Or maybe
nothing —maybe she // // is pensive, dreaming, lost in reverie.  // //
// The last word has been had.  // //
Nothing remains // // but the fuzzy end of the lollipop and the squee
, some long since forgotten— // // but
nothing that resembles a narrative.  // // Born nineteen-seventeen (da
smooth.  No glove lost.  // // We have
nothing to wear but wear itself.  Without wear or favour, fools rush i
France to Belgium.  // // But we don’t
notice them at all: the journey is seamless // // and, in truth, a li
November blues // // November: nights are drawing in // // the day b
November blues // //
November : nights are drawing in // // the day begins to go // // the
/ on a Suffolk shingle beach.  // // In
November the days were short, // // and dark night fell as we built a
low us away // // But we are bound for
nowhere fast // // Give me some wind to blow us away // // No wind! 
very own month of May // // she says “
Now’s the time—fix the day.  // // You dance to my tune, // // I’ll l
ith elastic and velcro.  // // Below, a
nozzle and tap.  // // Above, a tube, a valve, a smaller tube.  // //
tates // // that the train is carrying
nuclear waste; at the time // // it is just the timing that disturbs.
// For Robert Graves, the naked and the
nude // // were chalk and cheese; so what would he have made // // i
iscomfort.  Bother.  // // Irritation. 
Nuisance .  // // Pain? no, not really.  // // Objective // // Yellow
ness, // // hidden, but evident in the
number , // // best expressed Roman fashion:  // // CII.  // // We //
bonacci”’s four— // // not a Fibonacci
number .  // // Time?  // // No!  // // No time // // for thesis // /
/ She who hath this garden laid // // —
Nurturing the wayward seed, // // Planting out this cabbage-bed— //
f jams and pickles.  Washers // // and
nuts and bolts and screws and hooks // // were saved from all sorts o
tic drawers // // —unlabelled, but the
nuts and bolts and washers // // are visible within.  // // Gathered
s and tins: // // the larger bolts and
nuts and washers, // // flooring nails, staples, cuphooks, clouts //
reen // // (I think that I can see the
nuts it sheds) // // on the grove’s outer edge, contains our own //