is not whether Lumsden can write poems but whether there are enough potential
readers that can grasp all that he is saying. He often indulges himself, to
perhaps an excessive degree, with metaphorthat is often obscure, and
sometimes a slight way off target.
In the initial poem, 'The Young', we get 'Chances dance off your wrists',
which I would say has cricketing connections, having fielded at slip and had
a misjudged catch strike me painfully in that region, but what of 'pockets
brim with scimitar thing' and 'each mistake a broken biscuit'? Is he going
for ersatz solutions for his metaphor needs, or are they direct substitutes
for what he wishes to convey?
There is no doubt that Roddy likes indulging himself. He can speak in plain
English if he wants to, as in 'Middleton' (which we are told is twinned with
Chandigarh and Port Augusta), but straight speaking comes as an anti-climax
after the shop-loaded
bric-a-brac messages of his more intricate pieces.
There are more recognisable descriptions that delight recognition just as
much without confounding, without being tugs-of-war half-way between metaphor
and telling lies. In the 'Dying Horse, Tyssen Road', for instance - 'How
still he is and coarse / with florin eyes'. And yet in the same poem he
mentions the 'bull's blood, penny toffee / taste of London Pride'. Now our
poet may know a lot more about poetry techniques than I do, but I certainly
know more about beer, and bull's blood would have to be pretty thin and pale
to be compared to Fuller's London Pride ale, though that drink is by no means
If you like thinking things through, judging choice of phrase, you'll like
this collection. If you also like variety, there is a wide range of subject
matter too. We've mentioned dead horses, well there's railway stations, and
microwaves, and waves towards dress designers, thinking of sex, a loving leap
into masturbation, Liberace, old Scottish words, Ludlow, and as if knowing my
doubts that not all readers will decipher his metaphors, Between The Penny
Dropping and the Penny Landing.
It's a book to dip into and pull out a plum or a prune or a fruit you've
never witnessed before, or is it a fruit at all? Taste it... ummgh!
© Geoff Stevens 2009