Stride Magazine -



fancied himself
as a bit of a handy man
constructing poems (after inspecting
the build
of the beer garden
by the process of complementary tensions
add ing bits to take the strain
until the whole thing sways
& creaks in the wind
drilling precision holes
to take connecting dowels
& calling the drill holes
or air vents with no outlet
into which stresses can seep
& incubate, swelling & tightening
with shifts in the ambience.

I wouldn’t trust my drink or dinner
on that surface ­
practical applications limited:
it’s a table of resonances
one tends to circle tentatively
touching it with fingertips
& nerve-endings
not leaning too heavily
with logical expectations.

approached thus-wise
the thing might work ­
or as an unstable ground
on which to shuffle the pieces
of some abstruse, inscrutable
game very ancient
no-one’s quite sure
of the rules of

but the counters are
exquisitely fashioned
with bevels
with scorings
with glyphs

the fingers have a tactile
of how the game should go

the mind can only numbly
watch & wonder
at the click of glyph
& number
clash & chime


I’ve a little wizened
man who goes out in the world
to make my way for me
to make my living.

I stay firmly under cover
& he’s off before I’m awake.

I luxuriate in the aroma
of his absence in my room.
I like to think of him
out there among the living, the doing.

Sometimes I drop off the dream coach
mid-afternoon. These long journeys
do that to you ­ dreams
of snow, of wild weather,
of Dickensian clusters
of character.

When I come round I know he’s there
by his awful unsettling smell ­
not excrement, not formaldehyde,
nothing terribly specific ­
but depressingly subtle
like the lingering essence
of a perfume gone bad
a day wronlgy used
& falling into
evening’s decay.


learning to lose
with such strange grace
out of step
& out of time

‘he’d neck anything
cheap stuff
you wouldn’t even touch’

‘he was tight
in his dissipation’

‘always interested
in the cheapest
way to go’

Got to keep

against the flow

writing this
with a green biro
(a ‘bic’)

I remember
(as an offshoot of space
when ballpen first came in
I wanted every colour
for my top pocket
all the way up (or down?)
to yellow
to do writing
you could hardly see

The next best thing
to invisible

                        © M.A. Duxbury-Hibbert

Martin Duxbury-Hibbert’s Stride books Concentrated Ground: Selected Writings 1980-1990
(£6.95) and The Stone Guest (£7.95) are available from Stride or direct from the author at 2 Holyhead Road, Llanerchymedd, Anglesey LL71 7AB.