Poem introduction

from Vocable

Vocable (part 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.

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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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