Nathan Hamilton is a poet, publisher, and critic. He runs Egg Box Publishing and is Chairman of the Board of Directors for Inpress Ltd. Among other things, he currently curates the Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival and works for the poetry magazine The Rialto. His poetry and criticism have been published in a number of places, in print and online, including Poetry London, The Manhattan Review, nth position, Intercapillary/Space, The Guardian, The Rialto and The Spectator.
traffic embers late
in window light from this bridge
and we need different measures
for our buckets of luck
our own dark brains recall away
in cigarettes to answer
a black mirrored screen two baffled lights
across a bay
the hour draws round field-distant fire
oilsmoke slouching out
his fingerprints dust a corridor wall
watching ground freeze he toes
a new patch in a snow
full footsteps are too loud it seems
an idiot wind is growing
his words draw further back clear
disappearing in a frost
after music he found his own footsteps
high-flown Malcolm how to manage
precision of a landing tail-ends of a time in pieces
flowcharts pointing downward
the plane falls in
its belly up licked fire appears
to unzip the sky in vapours lost Malcolm
dimly listens with a telescope to logic
tries not to wake the day
he was homeward bound
when a red eye street stared deep
and it’s a while now since we’ve spoken
he wakes again
the bones within his skin still sleeping
considers the last of anything interesting
A year now since I trespassed
in this hall, its sepulchre-fug;
grimaced wood. It is a kind of looting –
the same air of desperation.
You kept strange things, I find.
The conservatory – what was; the overflow
leaks to a puddle of primordial green;
a deflated football, fungal book,
A Widow for One Year.
Look: a cabbage white shivers up
behind my rummage, traps itself in skylight,
frustrates rescue, is left.
The garage door now sticks
and buckles. Propped open
a sorry gob of junk to passersby
as our hire car fills with more choice steals.
The swelter of this summer numbs.
At 3, a forecast storm rolls in to break at last
and we hunker under metallic din.
Dried lawn speckles damp, aromatic.
Your huddles of dead shrubs drop leaves.
Sheltered, paused for a smoke,
I imagine you close by again.
I want you to speak. I want you to see I’ve grown out
of this place, like you said.
The second trip
and the drive back is familiar. It’s night,
the rain already dried,
and the charge on is brutal
over road-stuck fur, a messy surrender
of bugs on screen. I confess:
I’ll never make the catch
of your long collapse,
or forgive a few
their skill at wounding.
The car, heavy with a swag of heirlooms,
passes unseen fields. The moon won’t show.
Next day, before reaching your room,
another one I knew the name of when a boy –
sentimental, if it hadn’t just flexed
there, in the opposite window.
Peacock – just looked it up.
Your cluttered, unmade bed is too much.
Which were the last few things
you knocked askew
before you left?
The carpet stained: last evidence of life.
There’ll never be time
to salvage enough, so I take what I can
and leave, dust – just everywhere.
Back home, I can’t brush you off your books.
Rain disrupts a glum calm.
Rippled rings, concentric
and brief as lives,
bring you to mind.
Apexed on a shrug
of arching stone,
a damp gust remarks
tree rustle, green clamour.
The ‘disaster in the air’
you spoke of: it is in the way
this bank of cloud breaches land
over shirty, jostling waves.
It is in the way the seasons
draw in and crowd,
will herd us around
the last few scraps of warmth.
Two grey kingdoms blur
to a smudge of a world at the edge of a third.
It is in this strip of sand – mountain
worn to damp grain, encountered
near a vanishing.
Stalking for fish and chips,
a difficult time weighs
this idea disaster. I’ve felt it too, for years.
Dance, terminating – dis-,
Glimpsed again –
through a narrow street –
in the steely advance of legion waves,
it sounds in confused babble
of TV News, a shop bell’s ring.
It’s the secret of this roadside pigeon’s
unlocked guts. Waves again – ghosted in a car door.
It’s in the approach of sea brink; the lane’s funneled, out-of-season chill;
in these first few stammers of rain, the open shoreline’s
gathered junk, the rise and fall again –
fall again. In the drilled reach up the beach to my feet,
with many more,
it’s coming and it’s in the air, the sky.
It’s in the sun and the fall apart of cliffs.
It harries at the lighthouse, in the dissolve
of ice-field drifts; wind-thrown gulls; scattered leaves.
It’s in the whisper at my shoulder –
familiar friend: ‘I’m on the next
bend, hurry – live.’
A bothered belly-flop.
Dusty, kohl-lined eyes
blink. Mower off. Silence.
I relay it,
whirlpooling in a bucket,
to the garden’s border shade.
‘MURMUR OF DAWN’
Murmur of dawn
sheds on walls.
Light strengthens to blue falsehood
and I tweet with the birds,
simply: one more, more to come.
What is it that caterwaul dug out
of the day? – hitting the very note
we’re trying to live down. It finds fault,
startles us, dusting. A mist gathers
and we’ve missed the first stars.
But here they are anyway,
between our words.
A church bell? Or desire of one.
A knocked saucepan perhaps
below this blunted sky, hushed orange –
bright futures smudged
over night, its fall of light years.
A few months now
since the lawn was mowed
and another new congregation
tracks a telescoping sun
on a dedicated hunch.
A clear night and the city
drops – implode of circuit.
Across a widening breach:
still more contracting lights.
The cabin’s engine-rush
floods up inside. Grade by grade
the windows each disclose
a face, close up against the ice.