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The University of Essex

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(for John Barrell) 

1. gone to lunch back in five minutes
night closed in on my letter of resignation
out in the square one of my threads had broken loose
the language i used was no and no
while the yellow still came through, the hammer and the drills
occasionally the metabolism alters
and lines no longer come express
waiting for you what muscles work me
which hold me down below my head?
it is a long coat and a van on the horizon
a bird that vanishes    the arabic
i learn from observation is how to break the line
(genius creates surprises : the metropolitan
police band singing ‘bless this house’
as the filmed extractor fans inflate the house with steam
2. walking my back home
the wind
is the wind
is a no-vo-cain band
and the footstep
have conjured people
3. ah, it all falls into place
when it was time what he had left became a tile
bodies held shaped by the pressure of air
were clipped to his attention by their gestures
my but we do have powerful muscles
each of us equal to gravity

or sunlight that forces our shadows
into the pieces of a fully interlocking puzzle
4. good morning he whispered
the horrors of the horses are the crows
the bird flies past the outside the library
many heels have trapped the same way
he tolls, he lapsed with the light from so many trees
check the pattern swerves with the back
the tree that holds the metal spiral staircase swings
aloft the hand removes a book and checked it
for death by glasses or the angle food descends
5. the broadcast
she turns me on she turns on me
that the view from the window is a lake
and silent cars are given the noise of flies dying in the heat
of the library    the grass outside goes brown
in my head behind my glasses behind the glass in the precinct
thus, too, they whisper in museums and banks

Tom Raworth, "The University of Essex" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Tom Raworth.  Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press, Ltd.
Source: Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2003)
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The University of Essex

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