Poem introduction

from Vocable

Vocable (part 19)

19.

Ninety now, you’re adrift on the vowel-stream,
the crisp edge of all your five languages gone

and we’re back to the least of language. It’s all one,
your, his or my slight modulations of the bare

vowel of animal need (though even there
how they give us away, our vowel sounds:

class, place, family secrets, the wrong
school or side of the blanket or overstayed

visa, let slip, between one consonant
and the next.
Erect

a fence of plosives, dentals and fricatives
as we will... in times of war and weather

we can’t stem the vowel-flood; it will swell,
barely articulate. No border can contain it;

it will seep, erode, find
cracks; it will break through.


from Deep Field (Bloodaxe, 2011), © Philip Gross 2011, 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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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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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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