Issue 15 – Winter 2008 – Peter Riley

Peter Riley


The Idea of It

Is to bring something to a perfection such
that it cracks in the tension, and you work
a way into the crack, following the spark, death-
light as the world closes over your head, persist,
augment conflict, break into the world…

Bring something, bring yourself, create
what’s already there – and return, come back
to the full augmentation of what is, free of conflict.

The idea is to establish fixed points in succession
like a chain of stations through the land,
a tumulus on a ridge top, a homestead under the hill,
processional sequence that breaks
the disorderly obstructions to desire
gathering up silver threads in the rubble that
twine together to a gleam in the distance:
the world’s treasure at its final station.

So traverse the cloth of gold, the peninsula
bright and dark with gorse and hawthorn,
patchwork of farms and volcanic domes, all
there, thick with fish and wheat as usual but
leading somewhere, the roads sunken below
head height gathering together and joining as
the land narrows, pushes towards the sea,
the end, the island, the saint’s everlasting
rest, we are what it’s for.


Another Week on Llyn, Another Catalogue

Early purple orchid. Thrift. Flowering gorse.
King-cup, lady’s smock, primrose, daisy.

Conversing enmities: that among
so much difference there is so much good will.

Lesser bugloss, spring squill, blue-
bell, forgetmenot, violet, so that poetry
is after all not a profession, but a spare
minute, a small and sudden thing
extended across lives.

The primrose glowing and fat on the
dark grass of the sea slopes at evening,

the noisy oystercatchers.



Peter Riley was born in the north of England in 1940. He has had umpteen books published, mostly of poetry, including Passing Measures (selected poems) Carcanet 2000, and more recent books from Carcanet and Shearsman in UK and Parlor Press in U.S.A. The two poems in this issue should have been in The Llyn Writings, Shearsman 2005, but got forgotten. He lives quietly in Cambridge, where he used to sell books.