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Martin Stannard


Approaching the sublime: it’s the awful thing,
as in “provoking awe”. Oh, to be treated
phenomenally, to be a radio back before
radio had been invented, to be a form
of wave, to be an unread book on the shelf
waiting for a reader to amble along. We arrive
at precisely the person we had hoped for
in a kebab queue, on a cross-country
walk, scratching a face to get to the real
self beneath the surface, swimming
in waters one should not be swimming in
but what the hell, you only drown once. I have
disappeared so many times, on so many sides
of the world, and my absence only provoked
another appearance, always to madcap
applause. I have never been so happy:
thumping statements of enthusiasm,
a youthful surge, flashes of the surreal and
the thrilling. In hindsight, all of these appeared
to be signs that something awesome was afoot.
We may have enhanced one another,
everything as kind of unexpected, but now
all is so tremendous, so full of bright light,
words are almost but not quite not enough.
So it’s no surprise to find oneself, a few lines
later, plunged into the eye sockets of those
who find in the most familiar things an endless
reverie. And before you ask me What does
that even mean? let me say I’m not sure
this voice is mine any more, it might be
something gleaned from books. It’s as if I have
been absorbed, which sounds a trifle solemn,
but there is a basic fascination, an element
of lived experience you can’t avoid even if
you wanted to, like the positive test results
from an unusual yet impressive experiment
you didn’t want to make but your research
funding depended upon it, and if that’s how
things are going to turn out, well, okay then.

So be always wide awake, the most pleasing
plate of pie, joy and decency, the capacity
to make the most of the surrounding world
and its emotional life, all its strangeness
its sensitivities no more than you might
expect. Put very simply, it’s all in the hope
and the heart, it’s all in the midway between
day and dream. Inside your head in the age
of smart and sassy, keep the mind fertile
for the green shoots of elegant thought.
There’s no shortage of anxiety, sentimentality,
hostility, and other words with -ty tied on the
tail of them, but deny less than zero, there is
so much more to be done, don’t be afraid of
your weakness, don’t expect the impossible
but it doesn’t hurt to ask for it. Running alongside
all this one’s easy charm smooths the way
for the magnetic, the irresistible wonder of
the pudding. So, we think our way into someone
else’s dreams, questing beyond the limits,
green pastures of understanding, finding words
now and then to explain, describe, swimming
across a lake at night with someone loved,
ignorant of danger, on fire with moonlight,
calling for nymphs, and careless of how
the world sees us. We come through, living in
a constant state of cheer, aloft on a windy
balcony above busy roads and under endless
rooves. We are incapable of exhausting ourselves
and must set the table for dinner, pull
food from the fridge, switch off the phone
and be daunted by nothing. Vitality will
save us, work will save us, frequent reminders
of the next world will inspire us. It will not
disappoint, however hard it may try.



Note: This is two sections from a long poem to be published as a chapbook by Knives
Forks and Spoons in 2020

Copyright © Matin Stannard, 2019