London Poems
Robert Cole

London Poems

Fiction & Poetry

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London Poems is a thin volume of ditties by a middle-aged, English, fat bloke. The poems were written in London, about places in London, in reference to feelings that emerged as the author found himself processing random thoughts in or near London.


The subjects of the poems are those, pretty much, that have pre-occupied practitioners since the year dot. They are about love, loss, self-examination, and the woes of the world. A few more uplifting verses are chucked in to deflect accusations of rank melancholy.


Readers may spot the poets of the great tradition to whom debts are owed. One of Robert’s methods is to match his occasional spontaneous overflows of powerful feelings to a poem from the canon. It doesn’t matter whether reader get these references. It is appropriate, however, to give credit where it is due, especially to Elizabeth Browning, William Blake, Catullus, John Cooper Clarke, Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, Thomas Gray, Thomas Hardy, AE Housman, John Keats, Philip Larkin, John Milton, Adrian Mitchell, Ruth Pitter, Dylan Thomas, Wilfred Owen, Brian Patten, Christina Rossetti, Vikram Seth, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats, and Benjamin Zephaniah.


Robert is also indebted to Martin Baker, Julia Bentham, Edward Cole, Emma Cole, Sean Coughlan, Daniel Crewe, Paul Henry, Lucy Luck, and Matthew Wall.


London Poems is dedicated to ‘Mum and Dada’.


High Tide

The tide is on the turn, it’s being held.
Waves still come: sailing in and heaving sighs,
marching up to whisper rushed hellos,
and breathe farewells. The popping surf, switching tack,
glazes the foreshore, brushes left and right,
and slopes off, jostling for position.

Seascapes are a constant animation:
a restless sum of nature’s forces equalled.
The water fell quite quietly last night
and flowed again as dawn light streaked the sky.
At noon, the tide crouched, ready to attack:
now it’s swollen, a greenish-blue wallow.

It moves with single-minded pace. It’s slow,
sometimes: always it changes. Stormy seasons,
clashing with the lunar almanac,
heap the sand dunes and lay the bevelled
pebble shores; they carve headlands and high
chalky cliffs. The tide moves with frightening might,

milling the shingle in a twice daily rite,
flooding salt-marshes and sluicing shallow
pools. Twice it leaves the broad beaches dry:
twice a day it soaks them. With devotion,
twice a day, the estuary is filled:
twice it drains away. Twice the seaweed, black

and knotted, is lifted, swaying, from the rocks.
In succession, twice a day, the aqua-flight
is grounded. In sheltered spots, barnacled
boats are tied to weedy moorings. Flags billow,
buoys bend and seagulls play on the ocean
going breeze. On sunny days bathers lie

or swim; others walk their dogs, fish or fly
leaping kites. This sea, now taut, will slacken;
having paused for fugitive reflection,
it will ebb. It doesn’t want to end the fight
but ancient orders tell it where to go.
The tide, its authority sapped, will be quelled.

High above, creating and reflecting light,
hang heavenly things: below is motion.
I stand back, then drift away, unsettled.

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