The Awards Ceremony: Poems

Vol XV: The Awards Ceremony: Poems

Todd Swift was born in Montreal in 1966 and has lived in London since 2003.  He is the author of six full poetry collections and numerous chapbooks, ebooks, pamphlets and one CD.  He’s edited a handful of anthologies, including 100 Poets Against The War.  His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Magma, Poetry London, The Guardian, Jacket and The Wolf. He blogs at Eyewear.  He is a tutor for The Poetry School and Lecturer at Kingston University in Creative Writing.  Since 2004 he has run the Oxfam Poetry Series as Oxfam Poet-in-residence.


Reflections on the Confession of Tiger Woods

Sex addicts and poets are lost
In the flood of power that most becomes
Those who reside in interior luxury;
The sea overrides the beach, desires

To reach the inland empires, may breech
The green controlled lawns of golf;
There is a gulf between swing and speech,
But tongue and arm both touch

The rough yawn that lies between fire
And rain, beauty and being plain;
No god or person resists a lyre
If plucked by a finger that has tension

And release at its recall; longer fingers
Better caress the strings.  Redder lips best
Sing of wine and grape-sweet nights;
Light demolishes the injurious sheets,

Renders them just fabric, not gold thread,
Pulls back the lids to let us see
That the lover we sought to overcome
In our riding passion is a tomb.




Start again

In a key of slow
Then again stop and go.
Are trees made of pianos
Or the other way?

March plays the bare bones
Like it was evening
In a dive, solo.
Beneath the poverty

A billionaire lies
Domiciled in the soil
And about to pay out glowing
Light and growth.

Recovery is what the ill
Try to do, and succeed
Or die.  Health is a portfolio
We all want into.

I am putting these together
Not as if my life depended
On the assembly, that’s bomb
Disposal.  Or disassembly,

Critical.  Wires cross
As leaves revive cool green
And April steps out
Into the sun after a year

On the town, run down, has-been.
Nothing cyclical gets lost:
Time spins and so is redeemed;
Spins because planetary, so

Laws define the poetic sense
That hope is eternal; poetry
Makes lawyers of us all.
I step forward knowing my foot

Slips as part of its patter,
Faster then slower, not always
A goer but ready for a tip or jot.
No longer hot toddy, I warm

To the idea of writing
As a second chance to fail.
The grandeur was always second-hand,
Beauty the accident in what we planned;

The birth of someone else’s child
When your hallway has no pram.
Gutted is the direction we head in
Leaving traces of our loss behind –

A fish dragged across the water
On a line you’d miss until blind.
I felt loss when it left me
Saw what I had as it flew

Caught the train by jumping ship
And sailed for home in a caboose
Boxed my eagles with an iron glove
Glued love to my ears loose but true.



Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am

Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am
Doing what is done when description windowdresses
The world in frontage, clear as snowdrops in a cup.
The work of enjoyment is outnumbered by confusion,
Or only the flagrant frost of cans & trousers, poles

For fishing, & other displayed tackle.  Brought down,
The claim to see & say; this whirlpool is no hypnotist’s plot.
The vision on offer today is grim: brooding germs spoil
In July, but ladder in August to overbreed the solar lung;
Disease binds deep into our wind, cannot be expunged.

Few will survive this transit, so flares beckon the ailing
To camps where sleeves are rolled up, injections slipped.
Now a medical universe is sharp as new-dabbed barns,
Clean as Christmas in white slapdashery.  Hung up
By gloomy rafters an unworkable Farmer Brown fishes

For breath, unhooked becomes a clam.  No speech acts
As well as a loop for a throat.  Tie one on & plunge.
Taking this as morbid helps, as daily assists, as done.
Crisp despair & stylised anxiety won’t quite quip a virus
Off the surface.  A cut describes its own revulsion in red

Ink, or is a body celebrating when it grins out, festooned?
Race to the poles, where answers are stacked in Quonsets,
Then radar back info-rubber to the chaps at HQ on wires.
Death was harpooned, refuses to blubber further.  Sung
Like that, these undefeated lyrics express strange happiness.



My 43rd Year To Heaven

History presses like a wall
against our shy backs –
shall we take the floor,
now that nothing costs more
than it did in 1944, and dance?

Life is such that one has to go
in and out of doors of great hotels
to sleep on beds that later are remade
while all the bills get paid
by an invisible millionaire

for some, while others become maids
or valets until their skin goes grey.
The sun will return in the morning
to remind us that the night belongs
to priest and demon equally,

and after the eighteenth-floor leap
the chauffeurs look the other way.
I was sad before, and may be later today,
and the intensity of our hug
is an abstract emotional flood.

You and I pump blood and adore
the time we were given to love
but sense, like tiny clocks that must wake
prime ministers to greet mountains,
our time is soon, and all living things die;

or if they live eternally, do so in myth.
Let's think of ourselves as mythic then,
which, while a bare lie and lonely to do,
makes us cling more closely in the spray
as the mist about us rises from the affray.



April, April!

I get weak, and always have done
Because someone has to
Think – live – through melodrama.
Will climb your ladder, clip a tree,
Be scared of birds, and let the ram
Dance in winter at the window.
Let us love each other: owl
And robin, dream and brain,
Bolt and storm, harm and healing,
Wound and ward, talking to a lost town
About what goes beyond the civil
Thrill of things to a heartthrob bond.
I’ll go into your truck to glasshouse
The days and stars my gardener, be still.




Fine to wear glasses
In Arcady; time passes
Even as our July burns
Away; love also learns

That lying will play
Carefully upon a lyre
Lying in wait is loss is fire
A tomb, a heart, which resonates

Like a love-beating drum
Time opens its fist in gladness
Closes five talons, overcome
Cold ashes then, face sooty

Lovers crawl pell-mell in sand
Water plashing gaily, bland sun
Complicated, hardened, tossed
Light is love’s emblem, its frost




This thing
This another

This fuss
This bother

This bargain
This basement

This Roger
This Casement

This hammer
This nail

This church
This sale

This nook
This cranny

This Ardant
This Fanny



“Jacques Derrida, mort dans la nuit

He watched television like us;
Was married, and wore suits.

Defended his doctoral thesis at 50;

Wore his welcome out, like any
Guest whose charm is literary.




i.m. M.D.

The things that happen are the things you do.
Mechanical with music, and the faith device.
It seems that Donne was on fire, but knew ice
As well, and could handle grace, as could you.
Almost.  For every perfect clock winds down
At the hour when the ghost should be rising;

This is how the wise tell body from soul,
In towns that have no tower and no horizon.
The cosmic diagram drawn by Ptolemy or Tycho
Brahe, or the latest wiseacre with a ruler, biro,
Or room-sized gyro, is another vainglorious orb,
Loose and whirling in a cobwebbed vault, solo.

You were more than such archaic visions,
Master-builder of the jade bird, the sun-god tattoo;
Your poems, tiny intricate magicians, pulling out
Worlds mint-new and winter-green, muttering Latin
With the whispered magnitude of birds on the wing
Whose shadows made Heaven lower, angels spin.



The Awards Ceremony

I would like to thank my wife, she has made this night possible.
I have to thank my agent, also, who saw me through, and God.
Those lights begin to melt the rigid face, thirty seconds, unreal

And not enough time to sum up the gratitude in a super life, all
The offers and breaks (not the bastards who thought I’d plod).
I would like to thank my wife, she has made this night possible.

Half a minute on a stage to express appreciation before you fall
Into the green-room arms of waiting media, softly lusting crowd.
Those lights begin to melt the rigid face, thirty seconds, unreal

Changing places with very real, tomorrow’s Mister Spielberg call.
This much recognition, so widely televised, shouldn’t be allowed.
I would like to thank my wife, she has made this night possible.

I used to think I couldn’t make it on my own; the big career stall
Shifted in to high gear by her sacrifices, and those of Jackie Dodd.
Those lights begin to melt the rigid face, thirty seconds, unreal.

This win will make you rethink: many options, promises, crawl
Across the brain-screen, as the future rises, standing to applaud.
I would like to thank my wife, she has made this night possible.
Those lights begin to melt the rigid face, thirty seconds, unreal.



Variations On A Dull Set

Stopped being interesting
Stopped being interesting a long time ago
A long time stopped
Being interesting
Stopped a long being
Being stopped
Stopped long ago
Being interesting stopped
Stopped a long time
Time being interesting
A being time stopped
Time ago, long
Long time interesting
Interesting stopped being
A stopped being, interesting
Go, be stopped, time
A go go, agog, stopgap
Being becoming boring
Writing became boring long ago
Shift into a going concern
Concern beings, go interesting
Get out of here
Go into business, stop studying
Get long, snarl up
Examine interesting time, go
Get being education, exams
Get-go and snag boringness acumen
Examine interest, be earnest, get
Go into getting, go on, ongoing
Experts exemplify learning, agog
Goggles going into seawater sing
This is getting interesting, between
One thing and a going business
Get out of time, go learn interest
Payment gets going, outsmarts stoppage
It never stops, it’s being doing this
Going on for a long time now
A god is a time being interested in stop
And go, stop and go, being a long time