Today we have a timely trio of poems from the very able pen of Oliver Comins. Although Oliver’s most recent collection is 2018’s Oak Fish Island (Templar), one of his poems reproduced today (‘Hello’) actually hails from his 2015 pamphlet Staying in Touch. Naturally, the resonances with 2020 are all too obvious and I like the poem for its advocacy of writing letters in fountain pen on paper. In Oliver’s own words ‘The original recipient of the poem (in long hand on real paper) was my very close friend Paul Munden (poet, screen writer and former Director of NAWE) who lives in a quiet village not far from Castle Howard’.
Yes, something caught my eye:
your lovely shoulder winking,
exposed and shapely, showing
where skin was just like skin.
We happened to be together
when I didn’t look but saw.
There was no intent on my part.
You felt no need to cover up.
That day was blue and green,
the rhythmic air was swaying.
It may not help for me to say,
precisely, when this occurred.
Telling you wasn’t an option
at the time, so nothing much
has changed. I think you knew,
but did not feel inclined to act.
Each new late flowering is strangely reassuring –
a surge of creation somehow different to anything
we might have encountered in the earlier work.
This is especially true where no precedent exists –
the phase under consideration here occurring after
long silence with minimal or no meaningful output.
By the time our subject reached the age of xxxty-x,
it was clear a considerable body of work remained
to be commenced, much more than that completed.
If Late Flowering normally implies an Early Flowering
has also occurred, in a few cases it simply denotes
an overdue prelude compressed with a swift finale.
I wanted to send a message, something terse
and heartening. Txt would have been a perfect
vehicle, but then I remembered where you live –
how the signal’s consistently weak, barely present.
There’s no point in transmitting a moment’s insight
when I know it won’t arrive until you’re leaving,
setting off from home on a purposeful errand
or travelling further on a more significant mission.
Having abandoned the idea of creating an effect
that would be instantaneous if it wasn’t dependent
on some dodgy cell phone connection, I’ve chosen
a riskier mode – attempting to use a fountain pen.
This missive was written slowly to be sent by post,
knowing you will make time for a bunch of words
on paper – even though it is unlikely either of us
will comprehend the original urgency or meaning.