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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2The Victory Dance

3Beside the Reservoir

4Nursery Rhymes

5The Balance

6Baltic Amber

7A Few Words for Walt Whitman

8The Air Mines of Mistila

9The Duke of Nowhere

10from A Game of Henge

11the Song of the House


13Mermaid, Zennor Church

14The Dancing Princesses

15The Wasting game



18Changes of Address

19Pantomime Nights

20Walking the Knife


23Fire forms

24Big Snow

25A chance of Dragons

26Red Kites rising

27Her Cake, and eating it

28Opera Bouffe

30Sluice Angel

31Atlantis World


33Severn Song

34Long Exposure


36Paint Chart

37No peace in your deafness…

38One day you woke to find that you’d lost barley…

39I wish I could say…

40All this way…


42Not Saying

43Flying Down Wales

44Home 1990

45In high Care

46Variations on a theme from the Cornish



49Praise song for the Taff

Books by Philip Gross