Friday, 31 July 2015

В кухнята/In the kitchen

Adventurous light plays on vegetable surfaces,
out to remind us, it seems, that this is the morning after.
We’ve been talking as if bare, crude facts
were nothing more than annoyances.

Across the way, cleaned washing balloons
in chance wind currents and lime-green leaves
make love a plausible topic of conversation.
In the distance, a city does what it has to do

and email messages stack up to not much at all.
You are paring and peeling hot peppers
while the job I was meant to do goes undone.
The kettle’s drilling boiling sounds out

the proximities of silence. That was my promise,
I think, to reach a certain temperature, to make the tea.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Friday, 24 July 2015


Stilled ripeness behind a wall
in the Black Sea town of Sozopol ...

Fig jam greens refracted sea-light,
jars stacked up on foldaway tables,
but it’s the lure of hidden fruit
that’s proving food for thought
on these staggered, staggering cobbles.

And so because land ends here
in a tumble of rock, you might
have to bear with me, back
over a stony unadopted route
or out along coastal defences.

Cloudbursts of gulls shadow
wakes of returning fishing boats,
though we’re already in the shade
of balcony overhangs and a care
not to abide the inferences
clamouring in every word.

And so because here we are
browsing at a souvenir shop,
we’re hoping to find a thread
to hang shells and semblances on,
while waves not so far below
furl and roll along the shore
and there’s hidden fruit behind a wall
in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Посред бял ден/In broad daylight

За Марина/For Marina

In parkland we’re lit with August sun
and afternoon strollers disperse, coalesce
around a lily pond’s surface tessellations.
It’s all coming together in so many words
and we’re taking up again conversations
time and the geography failed to disrupt.

Almost inconceivable not to be here,
with summer verging into plenitude
and shrub blossom haloing bronzes
of those who’ve created, preserved,
marking pathways through the trees.
A singular brightness – like the one
you bring to the humble, everyday –
hazes out squared city horizons.

Were it night, I’d be thanking lucky stars,
though there’s no need: you’ve already
brought to light those of your own making.
In the grounds of a seminary, we’re talking
of eye-tints, perspective, minutiae of
a given world we both have our cares for –
only now I see it, here amongst leaf shadows,
illuminated for us, this place, your gift.

17 July is St Marina's Day in Bulgaria: this poem is for Marina Shiderova - a wonderful collaborator and friend with love and gratitude on her name day - Tom.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips


He came home with them,
laid them down
on the dining room table,
cellophaned exotica.

My father, back from India
or the UAE, took off
his uniform, returned to
light through French windows.

In that room, whose furniture
pieces were like so many
precise coordinates,
Mum vased those bright flowers.

They were part – I'd assume –
of their latest negotiations.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Рибарска приказка/A fisherman’s tale

The softest plunk in near-dark
where bait and hook sink
through water. A turning point
of sorts beckons in cloud banks
beyond a pub car-park’s clunked doors.

It’s not what we’re about:
it’s almost a distraction, in fact.

Overnight, we watch trees
lose shape and disappear.
At dawn, they reassert themselves.

As do we, and the small, frail fish
we’ve yanked up
from entirely predictable depths.

There’s a photo in the cupboard.
It's that or something else
which might put us in the frame.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Задължителни грешки/Mandatory errors

From balcony to balcony,
the summer cats are singing.
They're saying: ‘I wish you
were here.’ But I know
they can't understand
the meaning of such words.

The city is trying to sleep,
but the birds have gathered
for a party and the wires
dance between apartment blocks.
For some reason, I can
only think about eyes –

about eyes which 
promise, suggest
a thousand possibilities
(or simply the sea),
but nevertheless remain
in someone else’s mirror.

It’s almost time to admit
that this is how
the tale ends – except,
there, listen – in the song
of the cats, the dance of the wires,
you can hear a new story

about a mermaid’s blue eyes.