The Lost Beatles LP
You find it beneath the sink, softened
with damp, mottled like a old man’s skin.
The cover is by Lichtenstein and smells
of firelighters, bleach and shoe polish.
You barely trust yourself with the needle.
Side one opens with tuba, electric guitar
and the supercharged doo-wop of John, Paul
and George; the sound is huge and glorious:
like the gates of heaven opening in mono.
There is nothing digital here; listening
you feel yourself falling through a small hole
in the ground, the world above recedes
into a single dot of light.
Track one is The Beatles at their best:
The Party at the Centre of the Earth;
and it doesn’t let up: The Zeppelin Balloon Race
then Carnaby Streetlights; Yoko and Linda
contribute backing vocals on
Routemaster to the Moon. Paul recorded
Starling Wonder on his own one morning
before the others arrived; George Martin’s
strings are like a warm wind over the sea.
Chocolate Biscuit is a short instrumental
by George that resembles a Chinese nursery rhyme.
Tango on the Champs Elysees is one of Paul’s
vintage numbers, all Noel Coward and prim piano;
John’s kazoo solo is faultless; Ringo’s spot
is a mournful blues: What Were You Thinking?
clatters with drums and cheerful brass.
This is the record they never spoke of,
that would have outsold Dark Side of the Moon.
To have heard it is to have glimpsed
the grail; you reach for the dusters,
thinking of the auction, the reserve price,
and notice the slow drip of the U-bend
like the man who discovered Atlantis.
Featured in Issue 54 of TIH
More about Christopher James
There you stand: a weather-vane
with one foot held up as if you could pluck
East and West from the very ends
of the earth. You splay
the yellow crackle-glaze of your toes and step
forward, eyeing me with a shiny bit
you might have pecked
from the dust.
The fleshy rinds on your head
make a ramshackle bouquet
when you elongate your neck, part
that kettle beak and start to pour yourself out
and out; the undulating effort travelling
the muscles of your throat as if
you can rouse the world
from its shell of cloud
Featured in Issue 55 of TIH
More about Caroline Hawkridge
We never thought to learn the names of stars,
they were just places light once found a home.
But now you’re gone, I need to know
which one you’ve become.
Are you hidden in Lupus, Orion,
Cassiopeia? Perched like an egret
on the back of Pegasus? Flying to Pyxis,
Equuleus? Are you kissing the Seven Sisters?
Is it their love you’re coaxing into being now?
Tell me, so I can aim my telescope.
There is so much dark.
Featured in Issue 58 of TIH
after Derek Mahon
What words are there for this,
the mute persistence of snow
as it settles silently over the city,
falling now on a road outside
my window that climbs to a line
of houses and indefinite fields.
I pour tea into a china cup
and watch a last few cars head home,
their deep-throated complaints
as they race at the gradient.
Some make it half-way before gravity
kicks in, the front wheels spin
and they slide back to where they started from.
On the evening news, shanties
are burning in Nyanga and Gugulethu.
Many are dying in the last throes
of a barbarous State, but here,
snow falls like apple blossom
in the glare of a single street-light.
What words are there for this.
Featured in Issue 59 of TIH