The Interpreter's House

poetry publication

Featured poems from previous issues




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

and molten


Featured in Issue 55 of TIH

More about Caroline Hawkridge


John Siddique, 'Whirlpool' from Issue 55



Night Sky

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



Snowfall, 1986

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