Rupert M Loydell
Shadowtrain books
Index to Poets
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Earlier carriages

From Life in the Slipstream


Spent most of today on the train, in limbo, gliding past everywhere else trying to read and remember who I am. My obsession with place has run its course, is now just a background to constant bleeps and rings. Everything is out of focus but serving its purpose; in the gaps the cities spill out and fill the arches of light. I do not understand why nothing can stand still, how stress bubbles up into panic and tears. As the train's shadow speeds up, we are swallowed by the tunnel's dark. Life is afoot all about us, change is off the train and away up the platform before you can turn around. In the quiet carriage there is no soundtrack as ipods and walkmans are banned. I cannot comprehend this quiet confusion of sun, chill frost, soft light.

9. SUN

We are sailing in a strange boat. We tend to forget this is just a voyage and not where we belong. The journey is a metaphor for something, we are sure, as well as a means to get to somewhere else. Either way, it is easier to swim off the side or drift in the sun than worry about charts or knots or the direction of the wind. It is all so complicated and technical. Although it would be nice to stand on solid land again one day, we're not sure that is ever going to happen or if that should be a source of concern.


What comes after? Cold bright lights before we were. Good intentions, late Sunday evening. Paths out of the city to summertime. The ladder-man washing the air. Great big lies standing in the rain. A long walk home from an extended holiday. Tin cans strung haphazardly from the ceiling, full of low wattage bulbs and hardly audible sounds. Gravity, echo and abyss; postcards from far away. Your voice at the wrong end of the telescope. Newspaper cuttings from tomorrow.


They just want to be here, in the sunlight with their toys. They did not know this was where they wanted to be until the holidays arrived and they realized what they had been missing. So now it is difficult to make them leave the house,though sometimes they venture into the garden or cycle round the close. They have had enough of visitors and school, sports and plays and trips, have now decided that this will be their home.

for David Grubb

The man who speaks to owls has sent me his new book. It is full of half-heard hoots and rustles, discarded feathers and phrases, undigested pellets of rough language, but mostly distant birdsong and silhouettes of wings outspread against the moon. Sometimes, when I cannot sleep, I cajole a voice from the page, persuading myself that I too am avian, can hunt down poetry and make sense of impossible truths.


Winter's shadows are as long as the journey home. It looks like a summer's evening outside: stripes of sun on the grass, cows resting on the ground. Is this the way things are? Or should be? Last summer was a lie, we didn't get to sail, canoe or go very often to the beach. I'm surprised the trees aren't in leaf, the plants in flower, am still surprised at who I am. Somebody liked the songs enough to release them again, the poems enough to put them in this book. Take away the money and it's much easier to find readers and listeners, people who want to hear and see; but then an audience of twelve gives the lie. Outside, the town where my friends live flickers by. The train does not stop, might never stop again.

Copyright © Rupert M Loydell, 2009

Editor's Note: These poems are taken from Rupert M Loydell's new chapbook collection, Life in the Slipstream, available from Original Plus for £2.50.