Luke Roberts





                  and the time for lament

one of those winters

                  where everyone gets sick

I mean everyone

                              gets tired

rewinding the muscles

                               collapse into collage

when the ideas are so thin

                    and the poems take so long

                                you'd think

we'd be fitter

                  with all of these stairs

all this heavy lifting


no heavy breathing no stars

                        just the birds and the swings

crows and parakeets,

                                a big golden pigeon

big endless January

                                    taking forever

twisting my ankle

                       & chasing you out,


I don't know,

                        but I'm sure the politics

is making me sick

                                    fixing a lemsip

yellow tulips by the sink

            limescale cracks like the arctic

and the attic somewhere else

                                    fills with water

returning from a voyage

                                    days of crystal

nothing twisted in the tactics

                                    of the capital

no snow no medals no grievance

                    no good tracks to cover

now anything other

                                    than total surprise

 would leave us all raw

                                    and vulnerable.

I feel exactly like this,

                                    six o'clock

February 17th 2017

                        exactly like this

whatever you want

                                    to call it.









I couldn't keep up with the reports.

I started lying. Anytime anyone

asked me for comments, I said sure.

I said sure, it is the duty of poets

to know what year it is. But some days

and some weeks we weren't certain.

So I said sure, it is the duty of poets

to be uncertain, really only poetry

discloses our condition.

                        But this was ridiculous.

So I said, sure, only comedy is perfect,

I mean real comedy, the whole set

falling down, accidents of any kind,

real hurt, slipping into a river

                                    like a language

                    being eaten

                                    by a bear.

                        Is this the dereliction

we were scared of? Some little speech

about abrasion? How will you measure

real pain?

     We used to meet people from the future,

now it's the future,

            and we can slow down decorum,

drop the front and say whatever rhymes

well enough, well sometimes I've been

full of shit and I've continued, tactile,

all this, and my heart.

            The question continues to be why?

       This part is called confession

without a subject.       Now you,

you climb up on my back now

                        and tell me what you see.

These tests are literal.

                        I'm failing you all.









What's not my forte beaten

by the gap between the poem

and the time of its arrival:

the last day of the month

whose name is stricken

from the record and the weather

is green and bright and fragile.

What's not in the poem exists

inside and occupies my time,

it crowds the room with message

and survival, how the clouds

just bloom on the horizon

refusing to answer, refusing to say

a thing to pass the buck

and fuck debate and fuck debating

what I wish for can't be written down

can't be spoken, can't be said aloud.

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Author Bio: Luke Roberts is the author of False Flags (2011), Left Helicon (2014) and other chapbooks. His long poem 'To My Contemporaries' recently appeared in Chicago Review. He is the editor of Desire Lines: Unselected Poems, 1966-2000 by Barry MacSweeney, and has also published a monograph, Barry MacSweeney and the Politics of Post-War British Poetry (2017). He lives in London, where he works as Lecturer in Modern Poetry at King's College.