Friday, 31 October 2014

Gourds and pumpkins

If I had my time over,
I’d make more pumpkin soup.

I’d bring you coffee in bed
on Sunday mornings,
then we’d dress for the weather
and scout market stalls
for gourds and squashes,
testing for signs
of ripeness in the rind.

You’d wear the scarf
you’ve had since before we met,
your favourite coat,
and we’d blow steam from our mouths
like children pretending
they’re smoking cigarettes.

Back home, we’d ignore
the recipe books and be
profligate with flavours,
promiscuous with spices, herbs.

While the thick liquid
bubbled in our largest pan,
we’d sit at the table
and talk of other lives
we might have led.

If I had my time over,
I’d make more pumpkin soup.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips 

Saturday, 25 October 2014


To hear him speak of it,
perhaps you’d think him unclear,
the way sentences spiral outwards
until, reaching what’s yet to be spoken,
he’s finding new fixed points –
a dangerous promise, the hurt
which even triumph contains,
this year’s anniversaries of war,
the specific occasions and their weight.

It is not enough to reverse
into commemoration. That’s something –
but here he is and saying it again:
the game’s not up yet, no.
No, it isn’t. Not by a long chalk.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Autumn in the Mountains

A landscape’s engrained.
Differentiated perception
gives name to, tries to
surface the unfathomable.

And coming up that slope,
up a last stretch of path
which seemed to give out
before you spotted footprints
in mud beyond slabs of granite –
there we were, at a vantage,
looking out and down
on mountain woodland,
unintended spectacle.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips 

Friday, 10 October 2014


Facing each other across a tiled hall,
mirrors exchange reflections
into a diminishing infinity –
our shrinking reflections
look back as if imprisoned
in some alien dimension.

Elsewhere, in unvisited rooms
of this former royal palace,
crates, uncatalogued, hold
blouses, jackets, skirts,
painstakingly embroidered,
painstakingly collected,
but left, for now at least,
like miraculous secrets
on the far side of a looking-glass.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips 

Friday, 3 October 2014


A reservoir’s evening sheen,
not fifteen minutes out of the city,
extends to matt, interleaving slopes
which pepper with house lights
as commuters, running late, come home.

By a converted rowing station,
I’m browsing a translated menu,
picking up conversations from a year ago.
What to choose for this return visit?
Flavours don’t just recall themselves –
they are memories and places,
friends you shared them with.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips