Russell Ward


June 30th

All drunk and sober as grief before a wake,
voices strike a hedgehog in my ear,
the wax, too much, it is expiring warmly,
heart a breathless flutter. Jackals prance
but rain cuts the scent of arguing
and restores our glass room from out.
Drip. The hedgehog yawns in pain,
just a moment, enough to age and speak,
never understand but say again.
Drip. Our plans collapse in curls;
no-one’s hopes disappoint no-one.
Inwards, patience, drop, diagnosis,
white sweating, as still we listen towards
a late love, a pulse with gods. Drips
trace precise reunions here, then,
and now we’re left, animal luck, quiet.


Foresight Across the Park

The body of some big choice reveals
Its pressing need in futures’ judging stare.
Unhidden I summon thoughts to fix my will,
To work the faults, whatever tightly seals
My way of living as I do. I dare
Reuse this time. It’s later. Onward still

Is always a return, the way I face.
First right foot, couched and cradled senses, race
Together treading brown collapsing leaves;
Half-cycling, semi-circles, round and heaves
Back to push me forwards, next time round,
Falling to stop; crumpling shades and sound

Of brittle turbulence; steps of broken pace
Lead no one on; they’re barely there, so fine.
Standing still, I leave a trace, a sign
No deeper than my skirting surface sight,
And my direction only lasts in flight,
When instinct plods and kicks a pointed place

Across the park. The regular jogging set,
Keen walkers, children, mummy, old head in a cap,
Those flexing legs do yet another lap.
I had come to determine how best to get
Contentment, happy days, my wishing-well filled,
But being on the grass, a little chilled

By evening shadows, awkward trees, intense
Distractions, I cannot take a step, or just
Imagine where my better endings lie.
No escape: bent paths, the circling fence,
This park has found me, closed its gates of rust
And curves tomorrow’s outlook round the sky.

My hopes hit cars, anxiety slips away
Down gutters. Dogs are free, like me, to play,
To chase, retrieve, and sometimes sniff their kind,
Now others’. In here no one, no thing can find
That they are lost. I cannot care, no longer fear
I see my new horizons pressed so near.



Russell Ward is an Australian poet currently living in London. He writes: “In 2000, during a UK study trip to finish my thesis on the European fetish for Greek things, I grew convinced I was not cut out for academia and became a copywriter at a London advertising agency instead. I’ve recently been freelancing and pursuing original projects including A PsychoGeography of Stoke Newington. This audio guide/CD ROM explores the spirit of my neighbourhood which includes Clissold Park, the setting for one of my poems. ‘June 30th’ was inspired by a party hosted by the venerable art critic Peter Townsend. My poems are meant to be musically more than they literally mean.”