Friday, December 21, 2007



All day they stand by –
the salt, the pepper –
to dispense their seasoning
on egg or broth or pasta:

passed from hand to hand,
pushed over, stood up;
and for tardiness
tapped smartly on the table.

Now it is night in the kitchen.
A faint gleam
from a street lamp
illuminates their glaze:

once more they are objects,
whose reticence breaks down.
In silence that clicks like ice
once more they are china.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Tour Guide '85


More than guide, our guide -
a leader who advises and, in
his young and handsome way, cajoles:
“Stay with the group and follow me –

Don’t linger, even for an instant,
I can’t guarantee your safety if you do.”
English spoken correctly with an accent
and with Romanian emphasis, panache.

With funny tummy, feeling groggy, must
Decide: should I get on the coach or not?
No looking back, we’re on, and being counted.
When we board the airy motor launch

with wooden slat seats on its deck,
“You can have a soft drink,”
he announces over the sound system.
“I recommend the beer.”

From the first sip I see why;
tasting that cool Moldavian draft
a new landscape opens up. After that
the stomach’s fine; the launch chugs on,

onto Danube’s wide waters
the sun turns to fiery ice;
and the rising notes of a young
accordion player accompany us

released with subtle and peculiar-to
-his region rhythms and flaring riffs;
as heat beats down on wood-hard seats,
the launch goes on and into Noon and lunch:

an old village on an island
where they farm all Summer for the frozen flood
of Winter; a pale place where chickens run.
The guide – now serious – explains, disturbs

the account of hardship is so grim –
and what he doesn’t tell us,
couldn’t tell us, though later on he knew,
the deprivation was both giant and wicked.

At last we reach the port,
the evening soft as feathers floating,
and we follow and do not linger,
reaching the upstairs restaurant by the water:

the harbour of Constantia where
we’ve stepped into a sea of good ions
and our guide has gone quiet, becomes
invisible, as here he knows we’re safe

being feted at the long wooden tables,
cared for by sisters of the revolution –
a meal that is simple, yet
amounts to a delicious nourishment;

the music entertaining, not too strident,
adds to the sense of the evening passing
full of light, and the wine, not exactly
flowing, is glowing with Arcadian life!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Meeting House


Here where the convent
planted hops to rival Kent’s
and brewed their own dark beer,
a company of trees keeps watch
at high windows.
Their garden shadows
mingling, intimate
a saraband of centuries
or an old tango
from the slow Atlantic –

Now the Meeting House has
bells for several skills
and Saturday morning crafts:
electric urns for sacheed tea,
coffee or chocolate from a jar.
The bell the poets ring,
next to Buddhist Meditation,
is labelled, Tango Club: a wait
for poet - or meditator? – to let us in.

From the ceiling a hanging arc
lights up the central table
and, not quite falling on
our latest typed pages,
necessitates a leaning forward,
creates a closer gathering.
Sequins that cannot be sewn
colder than quartz & quicker
than the song of birds,
each different mind coheres
in a temporary fabric: glass leaves
collected to reflect and listen
as the one voice steps forward
to trounce the half light
with a flare.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sat Chit Ananda

chocolate cup cakes

in delicate white
corrugated casing
right up to the icing

on a plate on a
table cloth in the
house of a friend

shoes left outside
so not to ruin
the clean beige carpet

or the strip
of parquet in the hall
so when we ran

and shouted or
dropped dead
shot by a colt 45

it was only our
clean socks sliding
on the polished ice-rink –

at the signal
hands washed for neat
paste sandwiches

no cake until
these savouries were gone
washed down with tea

and then of course
the giggles as the amber
tea cascaded

into china cups
as if from somewhere safe
where it had always been

until at last -
the cup cakes
first bite through smoothness

into crumb-
ling cakeness
and more to taste

as icing melted
on the tongue
munching sweetness

which led in time
to more giggling more
amber from the pot



After a wintry August
to think I’m drinking this wine -

Let’s go to Oxford
set off early in the morn –
well, maybe, perhaps…


Friday, August 24, 2007

River Mole

Crossing the Mole towards Box Hill

We parked beyond the rattling bridge, and took
The river path intent on walking far,
At our side farmed fields, slopes looming
To the left, eager as we’d seen
The clocks go forward, and the young leaves –
And, being older, my brother had a plan.

Before the stout new ones were safely laid
There used to be old stepping stones –
Moss-covered, weed-slippery, yet still there
Where swollen waters slid, their speedless curves
Leaving brown bubbles and a wake of silver;
And with our rubber soles we went from one to one,
That Spring day, climbed the steep incline
Of the wood-covered hill they led us to,
Hanging on to roots and trunks, until
We came to the strange tombstone
Near the summit, hidden amongst twigs and stems.

This man – the inscription clearly said –
Was buried upside down; the reason,
All the world is topsy turvy,
Walks the wrong way up, and so in Heaven
He would be the only one to enjoy
The trick of standing on his feet.

George Lavellier – just proud
Of the encroach of Nature – like
The stepping stones – his tomb
A statement for unwary ramblers,
Capsule of subversive logic; though the currents
Of fashion go noiselessly by,
He’s always hip and wittily eccentric.
I took him as a hero then, and benefactor
Bequeathing the best tonic he knew:
Subsequent decades confirm
From high up there, the illustrious view.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Birdsong Memories

Birdsong Memories

Twenty years ago, there were birds which used to sing volubly together – blackbirds and thrushes included – so loudly sometimes they used to wake us up. It was beautiful though not always popular. Most movingly, a thrush sometimes sang in Winter.

In the late 'eighties, Kentish Town’s dawn chorus faltered and stopped. In the 'nineties we used to have stentorian crows who would tell the whole neighbourhood off. Then we had a few pigeons, until by the late 'nineties even they disappeared. From then on it has been silent and – quite literally – “No birds sing.”

Until just the other day….See previous post.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Another Tale

Another tale

A load of your sorrows pulled by a worry,
Just as you painted them, joined up the dots;
From these pre-numbered lines you start to see
A working donkey, sore-shouldered, trots

Through a wood, dust in its eyes, exploited.
What have you done with the blank page? Take heart -
Ink’s all that’s there – a touch of green & red.
They’re the cortex trudges on, not donkey and cart.

The donkey’s safe in a paddock with fresh grass;
Gladly she takes soft saddle-bags to market
Packed with the sage her owner has to sell…

And then erase the lot. Pack up your kit -
The pens, the brushes, paper that will pass
For real, next day another tale to tell.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Seventh Sense

Seventh Sense

He walks through the forest, through light and shade,
Collecting lichens, herbs for his cell, thinking
That behind each tree is a hidden trunk,
A darker shadow hung before the glade –
The hardest part of living as a monk,
The space between each nodding asphodel,
A long time to call things. Self-sinking,
Self-doubting he walks on, ignores the bell

That calls him to a simple contemplation.
He goes into the profounder silence
That the roots themselves inhabit in their search;
Dark-sensitive like them, a seventh sense
Develops in him, like an intuition.
He stops to hug the birch and then the beech.


Kenneth Hyam 25/05/07

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Sensual Crayon

After last Sunday’s German-English dual lingo reading in the Meeting House, some of us were in the mood for more – translating, that is. Maria Esdovin and several other poets came back to the flat and sank a few Guiness Exports – a good place to start. Maria agreed to give an interview and reading of her own and I switched on my reel-to-reel.

Lucas: Am I right, Maria, in saying that you have been translating your own Perovian these days?
Maria: You are really right.
Lucas: Er.. do you mean that I’m 100 per cent right?
Maria: I mean I have my reservations.
Lucas: You mean I am not really right or I am only rarely right?
Maria: Yes, Yes. You are. (uncontrollable laughter from around the room).
Perovian is very…. Is very hard language to translate, especially as there are so few speakers in this country, apart from the small Perovian community in Kentish Town. Perovian poetry works by resonance and association –
Helen: Yeah,so does all poetry!
Lucas: Look – this is Maria’s interview. O.K.
Maria: No, Helen is quite right. It is just that the resonances and associations are very hard to grasp outside of original Perovian, especially in the dialect of the province I am from.
Helen: O.K. cool .(Sighs all round).
Lucas: So what are you going to read, Maria?
Maria: I’m going to read from my long poem The Road – only short extract.!
Lucas: Is it O.K. if I get this on tape? You know I’m recording this.
Maria: It is really alright.
Lucas: Um… yeh.

N.B. Anyone interested in reading a transcript of Maria’s poem and other extracts please go to:

or click on my profile and click on the link for The Sensual Crayon

Bricks and Mortal

Robert is now back from his adventures in Italy. We have come to an arangement.
He has a very unusual - even for Robert - story and instead of telling it on my blog he has agreed to have one of his own.
He says he thinks the internet has de-poeticised poetry and refuses to type anything except onto his ancient i-book which he then prints out as if it was just a typewriter. Yet, in spite of this high moral stance he asks me to blog his poems when he feels like it. O.K. Rob, I'll do it gladly 'cos I believe in yr talent.
For those who want to follow Rob's meanderings, then, click on my profile and click on the blog called "bricks and mortal."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Postcard from Perovia

It seems one of the last things Robert did before he departed Pero Airport for Rome was to send me a postcard. Sent almost a month ago, it has just arrived. It is a large format card with a typical Esdovian landscape, masses of ripening wheat - undulating not flat - disappearing to hilly grey horizon.
On the card Rob boasts of his visit to the controversial poet Noise Astute who is living again in Esdovia, his native province. The remarkable landmark house which he designed for himself has been "borrowed" by the authorities who say that its pear-shaped dome is ideal for the hush hush work that is going on there. Rob's journalist contacts say it is the government-backed Centre for Psychic Research. Noise's pear-shaped dome - entirely aesthetically concerved - is thought to possess remarkable properties for sending and receiving in paranormal experimentation - telepathy to you and me!
Noise is currently apparently housed in a local farmhouse where he enjoys views of his beloved pigs and geese from his two room apartment on the top floor.
According to Rob, Noise is planning to break his nine-year silence this spring. This has been partly triggered by reading the Mezzanine Esportu that Plautus posted to this blog a little while back. As pointed out this is a highly complex form, which takes years of practice to master. Noise was very moved to see it flourish from England and has replied with an Esportu of his own:
Yestremi testremi manu
clostroti whorly epran
Giggs Manchester United!
Acumentec tootie chestrud.

Robert has not bothered to translate and my schoolboy Perovian really isn't subtle enough. Nonetheless I have decided to blog it, as no doubt it is worth archiving.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More From Latin Rob

At least this time he's had the sense to email me, so I can paste it straight into the blog.
I've edited out the first bit where he berates me for accuately transcribing his spelling mistakes on that napkin (some folks are never satisfied). Suffice to say that he's recalled some more of his day in ancient Rome (from now on, AR).
He was walking through the market in AR, when a messenger ran up to him - suspiciously not out of breath, no dust on his sandles - and thrust this into his hand proclaiming, "Ab amico tuo: ecce haec epistulae" or some such doggerel.
Sounds to me as if the waiter has slipped some grappa into his tamarindo!

Bright Sun In The Square

I wish I could remember more - the whole letter:
some fragments come, no photographic memory.
I recall hanging on each Latin word and phrase
with goatskin vino, hunk of bread and cheese
seated at ease in oleander shade,
it seemed penned by th'exiled Roman bard,
no need translate - my brain was latin-wired.

Can still see my Chaucer notes 'bout Ars Amoris,
which crops up in the Canterbuty tales:
"A lovers handbook by the poet Ovidius,
literary giant of the ancient world."
And I, reading this key letter just yesterday
can now mostly see shadows on a page
of freshly folded parchment, bright sun in the square -
I shoulda done that Dale Carnegie course...
Two things are even odder: as I write these notes
now in Amato with a rum and coke
that messenger just rode by on a Ducati;
second is doubt - the doubt within my mind -
not that I was there reading that mint papyrus
my doubt was whether Ovid was the author
......sorry protocol at the Amato says my time is up with this computer - to be continued.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

News from Roma

I had been wondering what's happened to Rob. Last I heard he was in Pero with Maria. Now it appears Maria is back - I ran into her today in Cafe EuroMed. She's very reticent about her visit to her homeland. Still no pubication date for her forthcoming volume "The Sensual Crayon"
When I got home I found a letter on the mat. It contained this. Typical of Robert not to include a letter - just the pome scrawled on a napkin bearing the title "Amato". Oh Well at least he seems to be having a ball.


Somewhere on the third hill
beside the railway line
above the Piazza Risorgimento -
home in on Google Earth
& you can just see it among the ruins
centuries old – the tomb of Robutus, my ancestor.

I found it, separate from the vaults,
a weathered slab, sloping encrustation,
almost erased th’inscription:

“Robutus Ovidii amicus
Corpus atque moenium generis muralis
Dithirambi et carmina pro Bachi pangabat
Coluit in Roma et in Roma
Ad suum moenium recurrit”

As I stood numbly trying to translate
I seemd to stumble, blankd – the empty world
replacd the full one, pod-like, dark
thousand-year preserver of seed.
stript of all photons a floating funnel
where Dante, Michelangelo and Fellini
could be heard laughing. Their
joyful giggles accompanied
my bumpy landing in a busy market
not far from… what recognised? Those toga’d
gents – such decorum at the Forum!

The speech I heard around me
not Italian, though it had the ring, was Latin.
That much I knew, marvelled how it bubbled
from their lips – mine also – my
hot lips! Spoke in Latin, for a day
down there.
Now, a touristo inglaisie
I transcribe these notes for you
my fine friends in Kentish Town;
I'm up among Fiats and Alfas again,
sipping a tamarindo in the Via Giadorno Bruno.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Perovian Song Bird Discovered

The following dialogue was picked up on the mic input of a media player in the Assembly House last night. I have transcribed it making no alterations except where the sense would have been lost without them.

Rob: Your turn, Lucas. I’ll have a pint of Pride.
Maria: Another of those fizzy wines, please Lucas.
Lucas: O.K – a pint of Pride and a spritzer

(Bar noises and me ordering the drinks)

Rob: Cheers Mate
Maria Cheers
Lucas I got some nuts
Rob: So Maria why won’t you read us one of your…
Maria: One of my poems you mean?
Rob: Yeah – you are mean not showing them to us
Maria: Yes – but it’s the translation: I still compose in Perovian and then into English. It’s like with the Noise poem – I have to search for the silence and out of the …
Rob: Yeah the silence…the Word comes from that…translate your own word!
Maria: Anyway you did most of the translating. I gave you just the literal meanings…
Rob: Nah. It was mostly you luv. Come in – join the mob. You’re one of us now. Let’s have one of your pomes. I know you’ve got one with you be… cause you were writing it when I got here. I saw that notebook you’ve been secreting about your person.
Lucas: I seem to remem’er you used to be quite coy – at the Frenz House when you first went
Rob: Save some of those nuts for me, Lucas mate. Yeeh!! We all need to get the right moment – nahmeen? Maria this has got to be it….
Maria: Mmmm
Rob: Good on yer girl..
Voice: Someone turn the light out – I’m goin to sleep – turn the light orf.
Second unid.
Voice No, don’t do that. I’m still reading.
Maria Well – here goes then

Maria reads one of her poems from her forthcoming collection.
(For copyright reasons I am not allowed to blog it. Maria would not mind herself. It is a fact that the publishers and her sponsors – The Perovian Institute of New Writing – have expressly restricted any pre-publication. Let’s not forget that the P.I.N.W is an important contributor to the literary scene in that small but significant country and we should not disregard its wishes lightly. Even Noise’s membership was suspended for several years when he was suspected of Romanticism. The charge was completely unfounded, of course, but he was left out in the cold for a while.
N.B. Robert and Maria are flying Pero this week for a holiday and hopefully will be able to get permission, while they are there, for Maria to release a few of her poems in translation.)

Rob: yes.
Lucas I really enjoyed that – Thanks Maria. The images from painting and drawing were so strong!

Voice You’re not one of them bleedin graffiti artists are you!

Friday, January 26, 2007


This poem has been translated from the original Perovian by Robert Trellisand and Maria Esdovin. As a Perovian speaker, and poet in her own right, Maria has been invaluable in helping Robert to produce the English version.

Noise's buildings have been largely industrial and domestic, innovating housing complexes and ergonomic plants for light manufacturing, but his early work was revolutionary.
It is said that he never fully forgave the authorities for rejecting his design for a building consisting entirely of Mezzanine floors.
In this poem, which is clrealy linked to that experience, Vecute's political reference are covert and extremely difficult for an English reader. The poem has nonetheless started to gain an underground audience, and it is hoped that a full annotated version will appear soon.


It’s still there in the depths of me,
not far from the garden with its worn
grass and single tree:

it’s a storey on which many storeys
have been built – each year another story.
Tall and grey-clad now
I sway gently, imperceptibly
with the tremors and air-
disturbances of time.

In the depths of me, still there
and difficult to reach, since
all the lift operators were fired
and Maintenance were relocated –
and the stairs are dangerous!
On some of those middle floors
I wouldn’t linger, what with
well – you know – the rats
and the graffiti. I mean
the graffiti on the wall
and the rats on the bed:
those half-way-ups, where,
sucked away by the updraft,
towels disappear from window-sills.

It’s difficult to get back
to where I want to be,
and then – once there – I might not get back up
if my knee’s playing up.

Yes – it’s still there, a gentle curve of curtain,
those real brick walls,
multifarious brick, orange
and yellow and oddly tinged
as bricks are. Good old brick,
decent and honest – that’s what I miss!

It’s not the first floor
the one I’m telling you about;
it’s one up from adolescence,
or is it one down?

Any rate, it’s not
the central storeys that interest me, nor these
wind-buffeted facades up here,
where – to be frank with yer –
what goes round comes around.

Ah! If only I could get back
down there
down to my mezzanine
where you can talk to people from the balcony
or, if they’re playing football
with their kids,
just smile or do something
friendly and ironic with your eyebrows.

I’ve grown from the ground up
each year a little further
and – build we must – so I must live
with the building I’ve become,
realising I’m descended
from what’s below – what
was that Wordsworthian dictum?

Ah, Yes – the mezzanine
that’s what I was:
a balcony full of Summer
a ledge-full of scents:
the people who dwelled in me, friend and foe….
I remember once, one evening,
just before it rained,
somebody I once knew
succeeded in getting a glass of wine
out of the window, offering it down
in carnival gesture, as the taker
reached up from the… ground.