You were right to be stunned by losing the spruce: a thirty foot tail the northerly
gale blasted from its spine and flattened over a wall, just wide of owners who'd
stripped away shallow roots that nestled too near.
It stood for your eleven years,
sun-tinged, billowing behind Guy Fawkes fires, sheltering under its elbows dens you
thatched with plant straws and sycamore sticks.
Now the red-brick superstore's an open wound, and my neighbour's sighing about lost
roses and the going rate of dried juniper. I tell him it's spruce. He agrees: So
I'm dreading chain saws, the burnt tree-flesh smell, men happy as harpooners
gutting a whale.
Exposures asks by means of various protagonists: to what degree and quality of light
do we expose our experience of joy, fulfilment, loss or confusion? A theme underlies
each of the four parts: how we relate; ways of shoring up identity; means of self-expression;
searching for more than meets the eye. All end on a positive and challenging note.
As in Outstripping Gravity anticipations and flashbacks provide a kind of 'narrative'
Earlier versions of some of these poems have appeared in: Agenda, Envoi, Leicester
Poetry Soc. Anthologies'98 , Fatchance, Other Poetry, Seam, Stanza (Leicester Poetry
Soc. journal), Staple, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter's House, The Rialto.
are due to John Lucas at Shoestring Press for permission to incorporate or adapt
sixteen poems from their finely presented booklet Reaching for a Stranger. The author
is especially grateful to John Forth and Robert Hamberger for their comments on many
points of detail and arrangement. He also wishes to thank other members of a workshop
group crucial in sustaining his belief in writing since 1994: Allan Baker, Amanda
Dalton, Katie Daniels, Mark Goodwin, Helen Johnson, Chris Jones, Marion Mathieu and
Pam Thompson. The cover illustration is from an original woodcut by Edward Walters
(1899-1978), printed in 1937 at his press at Primrose Hill, London.