- Poems by Graham Burchell

Three Poems by Graham Burchell


It was the merest slip of a finger. Poking the key a little to the left, gave me a date of August 8th 2995. The poem that I’d finished, was, in an instant - science fiction. Sometimes my wandering digit provides me with new words to contemplate: looj, froxen, or a dense, leafy gorest - playful words fit for a dictionary. Sometimes (often), those beasts to the left of the keyboard the caps lock, shift, tab and control, gang up on me, sniggering as they run a line WIth a wILd sEa of UPPers and loWers. But now I am staring at the future, 2995, wondering if anyone will ever know such a date, or head a journal page on a bright summer morning, before writing of beauty a thousand years from now. Will anyone be sat in an office then with a calendar, the days of August hanging beneath a photo of the Grand Canyon, the dates of the imminent vacation, highlighted in lime green?


Two men in a commercial sold suits from ninety-nine ninety-nine, but they sat on the letter i’s, squashed them into aahs, nahny-nahn nahny-nahn. Stood upright like a prepared spring, nine is a number of significance, the precursor of double digits, the ultimate male as celebrated in old China, but like Buddhas sitting soft-bellied within the walls of the forbidden city, they crushed the nine, displaced the spring, so that the marble gates of the Dingling now had nahn rows of nahn stone studs. How much flatter I wonder, will they be able to hammer the nine without killing it altogether, so that it might be just a squeeze of air between ei-yut and tain?

Porthole 1.

Soon, after waking I arose to the smell of boat in my nose. I could see through the stained porthole – dolphin sky, endless acres of molten greyness, and then, just coming into view, the skeletal bow of a dead vessel growing out of nature’s lop and swirl, impervious, huge, much bigger than the real Noah’s ark; big enough to hold all the creatures in a belly long since dissolved by the salts of time, but the ribs, glabrous beams of oak, spawned from a hidden spine were kissed, slapped, licked by the surface brine. We passed very close, humbled by the immensity of each ligneous bone that slipped silently by giving us the finger or somehow looking down with sad disdain – The animals marched in two by two but now you keep them in a zoo, globally warmed, Is that the best that you can do? As we slid beyond the final spur, I heard the feint watery clang of a sea bell, warning ships or mourning the waste. I twisted to see a large bird, feathers the colour of tide. From its perch it fixed me with its stare, raised its head and screamed a dismal fish-breath cry. I realised at once, the word it had called T’was a bitter, long drawn – “why?”

Graham Burchell was born in 1950 in Canterbury, England. In 1976 he graduated from the University of Sussex and embarked on a teaching career that would take him to various places around the world including Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Tenerife, Mexico, France and Chile. His first children’s fantasy novel ‘Wumpleberries and Gronglenuts’ was published in 2003. He has written two other novels, one for children and one for adults. He was the runner up in the 2005 ‘Into Africa’ International Poetry Competition judged by Roger McGough, and he is currently shortlisted for the Chapter One Promotions Poetry Prize. He now writes full-time and lives in Houston with his American wife, Charlotte.

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