Robert Peake

Robert Peake Featured Poet

Robert Peake is one of the poets I asked to be part of the EKPHRASIS event responding to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy in March. I heard him read Still Life with Bougainvillea which was commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2013 and after getting home from the event I did some digging around to read more of his stuff. He’s kindly sent the two poems below and I’ve included links to various things on his site. In case you’re not quite sure, yes he is that “Transatlantic poet-guy”, as someone I know once called him (I think she might have prefaced it with … “Oh WOW he’s… ).

rpeake-square

 

Million-Dollar Rain
for E.K.
 
It is hardly there at all,
this feather-rain, suffusing
the air with casual descent

pooling in crevices of husk
and trickling down the yellow stem,
dampening the topsoil sponge.

It is the antidote to drought, but also
to floods of Biblical scale, this
Providence and proof of tenderness–

each droplet a tiny silver dollar
skating the side of a piggybank,
reclaiming the mortgaged barn.

How strange to discover it here,
leashing an eager Retriever for his
pre-dawn hike through a London park,

four thousand miles and an ocean away
from where the saying first took root
in your keen farm-girl’s mind.

Strange how what is hardly there
is there all the more for its gentleness,
dampening the head of your blonde companion,

who, when you unclip his collar, races
as fast as ever through clay and mud
toward doves he will never catch.

The neighbour dressed in misery still won’t
return your smile, unaware he’s breathing
money-mist, shaking gold-dust from his hair.

So you walk with this secret knowledge,
burning like a gas lamp inside, while all around
the land is soaking, gently, soaking.
(First appeared in Harpur Palate)

 

 

London Blues
 
A tune is playing in the tambourine streets.
In the streets, they shake out a jingling song.
Since you left, the only lyrics I hear are “gone.”

The people on the bus wear their faces like masks.
The mask-faced bus people wear smiles like a shield.
Without you, now I know how that armour feels.

Underground, the trains are galloping along.
The train humps along the track somewhere deep down.
Since you’re gone, “goodbye” is my favourite sound.

On the pavement, people cluster waiting to cross.
Clumping like a school of fishes, watching for green.
I stand there in your absence, not wanting to be seen.

Since you left, all the songs say “long gone.”
And without you, now I know how a soldier feels.
When that train leaves, “goodbye” is all I hear.
I am nowhere, and you are everywhere, a song.

 

(First appeared in South Bank Poetry)

 

Robert Peake is an American poet living in England. His newest short collection is The Silence Teacher (Poetry Salzburg, 2013). His previous short collection was Human Shade (Lost Horse Press, 2011). His full-length collection The Knowledge is expected in early 2015 from Nine Arches Press.
 
Robert’s poems have received commendations in the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest, the 2007 James Hearst Poetry Prize, the 2009 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations, and was long-listed for the UK National Poetry Competition. He created the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series to bring poets from both sides of the Atlantic together for live online poetry readings.

Advertisements
Sue Rose

Featured Poet: Sue Rose

Sue Rose
15B02031929
(from the Heart Archives)

It had been so long since she’d heard
the reassuring pace of another’s heart
at her ear—she pressed her head
here, below my shoulder’s hard
girdle and the soft upper of my breast,
and slipped into the worn rest
of the old, soothed by the serenade
of my heart, its secrets husbanded;

she’d slept alone in their double bed
for years, silence ballooning around her,
but I sat rigid, oppressed by her need,
when I should have hugged this woman
who once listened to my heart’s patter
inside her, I should have stroked her head.

Sue Rose works as a literary translator and has published various novels, libretti and plays in translation. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies and she has been commended or placed in competitions such as the National Poetry Competition, the Peterloo and the Wigtown. She won the Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2009 and the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Competition in 2008. She has recently started tutoring for organizations like Oxford University and the Chateau Ventenac in France.
Her debut full-length collection, From the Dark Room, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2011. “This collection is rich with the life of the body, with flesh, seed, sex, blood, birth, family love, all in language that is brave and tender.” (Gillian Clarke).

Reviews here: http://londongrip.co.uk/2011/10/poetry-review-autumn-2011-rose-stein/
and http://sheenaghpugh.livejournal.com/71406.html
Other links: http://peonymoon.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/sue-roses-from-the-dark-room/

The featured poem is from Heart Archives, a chapbook to be published by Hercules Editions in February 2014. For more information and/or to get involved, see: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/heart-archives

A second collection, The Cost of Keys, is due out from Cinnamon in November 2014.