The Duke of Nowhere

I was the son of the Duke of Nowhere.
Nowhere was home. The first sound I remember

was engines sawing steam, the butt
and squeal of waggons full of clunk

shunted cruelly. Lifted to the window sill
I had my first sight of our exile

as I thought: Here, me,
watching... There, trains, going away...

*
He was living incognito
but his secret was safe with me.

I was the solitary heir to everything
he never once mentioned. I guessed

from his brooding, his whole silent days,
it must be vast. The lost estates

grew vaster in the weeks,
then months, he went away and stayed.

*
Beyond the roofs, beyond the dockyard wall
were cranes, then the edge of the world.

On a clear day I could watch grey frigates
climb it and slip over. I woke one night

to singing in the streets that suddenly
grew small as all the hooters of the fleet

brawled up together, blurting
Home.... as if any such place

existed, over the horizon, anywhere.


from Changes of Address: Poems 1980-1998 (Bloodaxe, 2001), first published in Son Of The Duke Of Nowhere (Faber, 1991), © Philip Gross 1991, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1Stations

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2The Victory Dance

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3Beside the Reservoir

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4Nursery Rhymes

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5The Balance

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6Baltic Amber

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7A Few Words for Walt Whitman

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8The Air Mines of Mistila

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9The Duke of Nowhere

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10from A Game of Henge

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11the Song of the House

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12Beyonders

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13Mermaid, Zennor Church

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14The Dancing Princesses

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15The Wasting game

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16Imago

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17Babble

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18Changes of Address

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19Pantomime Nights

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20Walking the Knife

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2215-50

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23Fire forms

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24Big Snow

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25A chance of Dragons

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26Red Kites rising

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27Her Cake, and eating it

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28Opera Bouffe

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30Sluice Angel

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31Atlantis World

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32Betweenland

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33Severn Song

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34Long Exposure

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35Same-Psalm

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36Paint Chart

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37No peace in your deafness

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38One day you woke to find that you'd lost barley

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39I wish I could say

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40All this way

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41Vocable

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42Not Saying

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43Flying Down Wales

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44Home 1990

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45In high Care

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46Variations on a theme from the Cornish

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47Nimzo-Indian

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48Goal

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49Praise song for the Taff

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