Poems by Laurie Duggan

Angles 19–32
19 (St Ives)

pink balls of thrift
cling to the rocks
rain on a Kentish garden,
an overflowing pond,
the rusted cone of a green ventilator,
then the sky clears, partly
snow scraped to the side of Uplees road
a lost motorist heads for the Shipwright:
nothing out here but concrete blocks in fields
nail holes, woodworm …the beam’s still solid
down the shade end of the yard
soil hangs like rock from grass roots
a pheasant ate the jasmine leaves
box of six, kitchen end
of the yard, before
the dwarf rose,
iris about to bloom,
monkshood, michaelmas
daisies settling in
26 (Estuary)
sulphurous airs
through Rainham, Essex,
then, south of the river
the waste of Ebbsfleet,
a car park surrounds the station
beyond the shipyard the town ends:
a plank bridge over a tidal channel
then Nagden Marsh, the Swale,
the tip of Sheppey; at night
Southend lit across the estuary
left bank of the Creek
a dyke edges Ham Marsh
to the junction with the Oare,
the white timber Shipwright
a string of houses, south
on the Ashford road and the A2;
beyond, a field of buttercups, a
collapsed barn
the irregularity of bricks
smoke blackened,
patches of limewash,
a pale fossil at the foot of a staunchion  
red-tailed kites
over ploughed fields, Bucks.
a realist painting:
the chip eaters



Little Journal
From last century, the art
of Henri Laurens: its domestic scale
alive in our moment of ones and zeros
Once, in the 5ième, on Avenue Gay-Lussac,
I stayed in a triangular apartment,
balcony adjoining the bathroom,
travelled north through Place Monge,
named for a geometer, its stalls
of onion and garlic, en route
for the International City of Art
Metal chimney extensions ascend
a wall by a viaduct, seeking light;
the park below inhabited by empty bottles
4 (July 14)
After a washed out parade
an image of the General
commands blank space
before the Hôtel de Ville
Après midi, the clouds scatter,
commandos drop into the Tuileries
protected by gendarmes
as they fold their chutes



Oňati Notebook
For one moment only, sunlight
across the Plaza Sta Marina,
intermittent heavy rain & thunder,
dim light from low windows.
Concrete circles around trees collect the downpour,
dead leaves stick to the pavement.
I read poems by Elsa Cross, Mexican,
in English by various hands;
the mountains, even the streets,
inaccessible for now
Coats dance on the coat rack;
noises off from a billiard room
a rip in the table’s baize,
a warp towards one pocket.
is all you need to do’
says Pam
and, I guess,
‘it’s my job’
Euskadian rhythms,
the mysteries
of 2009
Up there somewhere
are farmhouses, tiles held down by rocks,
stone paths across fields,
further, the peaks
A torrent erodes banks, the grassy edges
under the bridge.
Everything smells of cigarettes
Umbrellas unfurl
on the road to the monastery,
pedestrians hesitate, then run.
A ridge divides the ways to Zumarraga and Arantzazu.
Why is it that you only watch nature programs
if you’re bored? Small beasts eaten
by larger beasts (economics?).
A few tracks improve things:
Jackie Mittoo for instance
(Kingston’s Booker T),
(outside, the pavement
still shines, white arrows on a wet road,
too early for raciones),
the Atlantics (like the Shadows on speed),
the Throwing Muses, ‘I slip … ’ — a descending scale
arrested midway (heartbreak).
My hands, the hands of a very old person,
rest on the arms of an ergonomic chair
(of Bauhaus design: Marcel Breuer?).
All this takes me away from what’s out there:
a black square (homage to Ad Reinhardt)
inflected by pointillisme
The weather lifts,
or not,
sheep up hillsides
possibly dry tomorrow
these are the Basque colours
(white, black, red, yellow, green, blue)
these, the numbers (1–5)
I have mailed my friends (a strange contraction)
and I have already forgotten who’s who
in Wilkie Collins, eighty pages in
Answer to Philip Whalen’s ‘Mysteries of 1961’:
‘Mr Knibx’ was Basque!
Outside the door, the sound
of a mop, inside
the click of a washing machine.
Am I light headed?
or washed-up?
‘nothing in that drawer’
I ran out of town, meaning
there was no town left
Autumn trees, burnt patches amid pine
up a few steps, a peak,
unseen elsewhere, suddenly there.
Trail signs peter out or don’t exist.
Back in the town hall square
observe pigeons, a barn
on the slope of that hill
(the mountains so close, so distant)
The mind floats
beyond all this,
of a past
trapped in one language
reading becomes difficult
a drift of grammars
assonantal or consonantal shifts
the woods
above the town,
above the trees,
what fades
and what assumes a smoky light
Out from Oňati
on the slopes, frutas kiwi,
champinones y boletas
I’ve yet to name that sharp mountain,
its contours not visible on a map

San Sebastiān / Donastia: an Art Noveau town mostly burnt out by fires, mid-19th century, rebuilt post-Haussmann, hence boulevards, mansard rooves, a river promenade; the old town walled in by Monte Urgull, the port, two beaches and a grand plaza. Across the bay a funiculare transports you to the kitsch paradise of Monte Igueldo, a 1960s hotel with amusement parks

in the distance Biarritz, the French coast.
Later, from Zumarraga
a crazed taxi driver takes 30K bends at twice that speed.
Later still: several glasses of wine
Arrows on a drying road
point to Arantzazu
a pocket in the mountains
Chillida’s doors
a crypt by Nestor Basterretxeak
a parking lot
and way down, a stream, caves,
autumn patches on the rock face
over these mountains
rivers flow to a different sea
The backblocks of Oňati,
evening light on the valley side,
a comfortable bar on a backstreet intersection
the floor, brick and tile, brown woodwork.
on the walls: Basque feminist graffiti.
a cigarette machine
The Palace at 12.30 pm
(homage to Giacometti)
maps are admonitions
(a clear sky, more or less
though Sol says change
comes rapidly in the mountains
An image of red tree roots, an installation in Trafalgar Square,
back page of the local.
Gasteiz 17°   Iruněa 18°
Bihar (tomorrow?) fine. These
the limits of understanding
dancing figures of
four red peppers, an exhibition.
On the main square it’s quiet
save ‘a groovy kind of love’ in Spanish
From a gap down to the river, across a tributary
then back again by footbridge
an ancient oven in the undergrowth
stone on the path marbled
like the tower of the parish church (S. Miguel)
songsters, possibly blackbirds
(too late for the rossignol)
The trail leads round the back of a hill (Sanbartolomegaňa)
along Arantzazu Erreka (Creek?), through Mutueta
over a rise back to Oňati
a redbreast
an orange-bellied slug
fog halfway up the valley
Each of these mountains
has a name,
perhaps a character
The four comparatives of Basque:
too big
a handy language in the border country through the war
(so too the now extinct language whistled in the Pyrenees,
capable of whole sentences, entire discourses)
‘our words are our world …
what they lead us to is all we have’ (Creeley)
At Mutueta the Arantzazu no longer drops to a pool
(as it did this morning), backing up instead
against the stone wall
On the square, two men drink wine and beer for breakfast,
a mirror pretends further information,
the space ‘behind’ different from this one.
A cigarette smoulders at an empty table
a smoking mesa.
The wall in here features an old black & white photograph
of THE MOUNTAIN, no credit, no information
I’ll head that way I think,
but, no, I won’t, I’m going south.
When I turn around
it’s there, like Fuji
Everyone heads here (the café
with no name), 10.00 am.
Am I going anywhere?
Others seem about to, but don’t
I always make the mistake
that other people have destinations
like that man in the T-shirt:
‘Fiesta, yes! And I’d like a beer too!’
A small grey bird (smaller than a sparrow)
black & white head and tail feathers
skims the river that flows under the church
Is it? could it be (the peak)?
Landurratzko Punta,
with Klabeliňaitz (or Marizelaieta)
a little to the left?
the contours are about right
it would have to be
right on the border of this province/region