Skip to main content


The secret is not to have a secret

The magic is to be magicless

The trick is to go without the tricks

The plan is to be avoided

The path is to be downtrodden

The lie is to be forgotten

The carnival is to be inverted

The lamb is to be converted

The killer is to be caressed

The dress is to be undressed

The cure is to be lost

The time is to be mis-told

The crime is to be lawful

The beauty is to be awful

The secret is to speak widely

The magic is to turn the tables

The trick is to be born in the stables

The plan is to go to shambles

The path is via the brambles

The lie is to stand in the open

The carnival is to roll the king

The dress is thorn this season

The lamb is the feast for a reason

The birth was clearly at night

The death was notably during day to day

This means something about lighting

Between the cracks, between the shrugs

Between the thighs, between the thugs,

Between the shimmering royal displays,

Comes a meagre passion play, starting

In the dull, disinterested, calamities.


DECEMBER 23, 2022


Popular posts from this blog


THAT HANDSOME MAN  A PERSONAL BRIEF REVIEW BY TODD SWIFT I could lie and claim Larkin, Yeats , or Dylan Thomas most excited me as a young poet, or even Pound or FT Prince - but the truth be told, it was Thom Gunn I first and most loved when I was young. Precisely, I fell in love with his first two collections, written under a formalist, Elizabethan ( Fulke Greville mainly), Yvor Winters triad of influences - uniquely fused with an interest in homerotica, pop culture ( Brando, Elvis , motorcycles). His best poem 'On The Move' is oddly presented here without the quote that began it usually - Man, you gotta go - which I loved. Gunn was - and remains - so thrilling, to me at least, because so odd. His elegance, poise, and intelligence is all about display, about surface - but the surface of a panther, who ripples with strength beneath the skin. With Gunn, you dressed to have sex. Or so I thought.  Because I was queer (I maintain the right to lay claim to that


When you open your mouth to speak, are you smart?  A funny question from a great song, but also, a good one, when it comes to poets, and poetry. We tend to have a very ambiguous view of intelligence in poetry, one that I'd say is dysfunctional.  Basically, it goes like this: once you are safely dead, it no longer matters how smart you were.  For instance, Auden was smarter than Yeats , but most would still say Yeats is the finer poet; Eliot is clearly highly intelligent, but how much of Larkin 's work required a high IQ?  Meanwhile, poets while alive tend to be celebrated if they are deemed intelligent: Anne Carson, Geoffrey Hill , and Jorie Graham , are all, clearly, very intelligent people, aside from their work as poets.  But who reads Marianne Moore now, or Robert Lowell , smart poets? Or, Pound ?  How smart could Pound be with his madcap views? Less intelligent poets are often more popular.  John Betjeman was not a very smart poet, per se.  What do I mean by smart?

"I have crossed oceans of time to find you..."

In terms of great films about, and of, love, we have Vertigo, In The Mood for Love , and Casablanca , Doctor Zhivago , An Officer and a Gentleman , at the apex; as well as odder, more troubling versions, such as Sophie's Choice and  Silence of the Lambs .  I think my favourite remains Bram Stoker's Dracula , with the great immortal line "I have crossed oceans of time to find you...".