About the Poem
About the poet
Denise Riley (b. 1948) is active across the full range of poetic life - poet, essayist, teacher...
I'd thought you'd get through any disagreement just by talking
by persisting quietly. Fool. Steel-rimmed the hole at the centre
through which all hopes of contact plummet down in flames
as modes of talk criss-cross from opposite directions like jets in flight
which rightly never slow or swerve to read the fleecy trails of others
then something searing wipes its arc across my sight again
as rape fields of acrylic flowers do stripe your eyeballs yellow
and unreflecting green takes charge at the horizon threatening to rain -
shove off or I soak you sunshine - suppose you stopped describing
something, would stopping free you from it, almost as if it hadn't happened?
So is that shiver down the back of the neck water, or is it memory calling water
or is it squaring up to getting properly shredded, which does cut clean away
from iron edges soaking into rust, from blurring fiery wells of tin-work -
someone calling tell them I'm not home, hurt me so bad to see my baby get
away, ashen-mouthed, smoking regret - instead of all that tactile surface junk
there is this sobbing flash, you-die immediacy: who longs for decent
and consensual talk, it is that calm and democratic front I'd work to be:
I was not born to that.
from Denise Riley: Selected Poems (Reality Street Editions, 2000), copyright © Denise Riley 2000, used by permission of the author and the publisher
Denise Riley Reading from Her Poems