Sunday 14 December 2014

Denise Riley's Selected Poems (Reality Street, 2000), first selection

Some favourite passages as I reread Riley's Selected Poems: 

An unselfconscious wife is raised high as a flag over
                 the playground and burns up


today it is all grandiose domestic visions truly

from Marxism for Infants

the houses are murmuring with many small pockets of emotion

from "Affections Must Not"

                                                             I'm seeing present history
glance round it for support, I'm hearing it at work to stammer its imperfect story
go on too long, be conscientious, grab at straws, then reach its edge of tears.


                       ...I'll leave
as I might leave a party whose guests are venomous yet inconsolable....


What is it that shapes us, whether 
we will or no, that through these

opened and reopened mouths that form
the hollow of a speaking wound, we
come to say, yes, now we are Illyrian.

 from "Laibach Lyrik: Slovenia, 1991"

If I seem mirthful it is tinsel & spangles on a black ground.


To come to the point, avoiding the temptation to impertinent
& superfluous labour. Exactness the common honesty of art.
What is prosperity without it but a violated responsibility.


The solemn & inexhaustible eloquence of rains and mountain.


We are first green and then grey and then nothing in this world.

from "Letters from Palmer"

steady me against inaccuracy, a lyric urge
to showing off. 


representing yourself, desperate to get it right,
as if you could, is that the aim of the writing?
'I haven't got off lightly, but I got off'--that won't
deflect your eyes that track you through the dark.


Will you be good towards
these animals of unease
I can just about call them home.


                                                I'd thought
to ask around, what's lyric poetry?
Its bee noise starts before I can:
You do that; love me; die alone.


Unanxious, today. 
A feeling of rain
and dark happiness.

from "A Shortened Set"

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