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In Bed with Bukowski and Tranströmer by Graham Clifford

I went to bed with Charles Bukowski and

Tomas Tranströmer last night.

Bukowski was scrabbling around the floor naked,

balls swinging as he hunted screws from the lock

he had attempted to fix.

Tranströmer was waking in the back of his car,

in horror: his name had gone.

He waited wide-eyed for it to come back to him

like a village re-appearing from mist.

Someone online has been standing up for Bukowski’s

lack of polish: he did things

then he wrote poems.

Tranströmer had the Nobel Prize on his mantelpiece

and played piano with his one, good hand.

His eyes were blue frost.

I sit in a cemetery to escape the city

relentlessly remaking itself

to wonder what it might mean to have slept

with these two men in my head.

One young magpie drops expertly onto a grave,

levers its tail to squirt a blob

of white onto a plot. Tonight

I will go to bed with Russell Edson and Louise Glück.


Graham Clifford’s most recent collection, Well, is published by Against The Grain. He has a MA in creative writing from UEA and is a Head teacher.

Clifford’s latest collection 'In Charge of the Gun' (Black Light Engine Room) launches 1 July 2021. It includes such soon-to-be-classics as, Tuculescu?, The White Baboon, New Saint Crop and The Worst Poem Ever Written. Perfect as a gift or a veiled threat, this collection will not leave you wondering. Introduced by Harry Vegas @HarryVegas

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