Sunday 5 May 2019

5 Poems by Jeremy Page


I wake to a new world order.

My radio breaks the news

that suddenly the past

really is another country,

and my passport – my last

in burgundy – has become

a historical curiosity overnight.

To make tea seems

an act of betrayal now –

let it be coffee, croissants,

and let there be cheese,

quark, and a handful of leaves.

I am a citizen of Shadowland

and I have woken somewhere else.


Tokyo. 3.30 a.m.

I have forgotten how to sleep

but I am dreaming Mount Fuji.

She’d pointed from the rooftop –

Over there, she said,

beyond those hills.

And absent half the year

for all we know

in this land, where

(or so we're told)

rabbits can be birds

I will not be here

to see the blossom

on the slopes but now,

whenever sleep defies me,

I shall dream Mount Fuji –

somewhere beyond those hills.


Clearing out another drawer,

I come across the postcard

quite by chance – sepia, faded,

the city’s name in Cyrillic script,

and before I know what I am doing

I am composing your name

in characters that are as unfamiliar

to me now as you are,

forty odd years on from the picnic

on the Potemkin steps, the glasses

raised to toast our futures

in the cheapest Soviet vodka;

and all the innocence you coaxed

from me, so tenderly.


It will soon be time for us to dress in red –

earth and dog will coincide as they did

six decades before, when our mothers gave birth

in the same ward the same dark Sunday

that Castro’s men seized one Juan Manuel Fangio.

His captivity would last mere weeks

while we have never escaped each other,

our childhoods lived in neighbouring towns,

adolescences companionably endured, and

all the rest – encounters here and there, reunions

formal and informal, weddings once,  then funerals –

and when we’re sixty we’ll celebrate our rebirthing

like the Japanese,  clink glasses and toast in sak√©

those women who shared a ward, gave birth.


They say it smells of dead holidays.

I say it always did.  And out of season

was never the time to connect anything

with anything here, where you can only

wonder at the sea in all the shades

of grey on Richter’s palette, wonder

where the ice-cream vendors go

and if the deckchair man can really

hibernate in his cave beneath the cliff,

with his chairs, his memories of summer.

On the pier a salt breeze ruffles

a scrap of gaudy poster,  and offshore,

somewhere close, a ship’s bell tolls

for something gone, for some thing .


Jeremy Page has edited the bi-annual literary journal The Frogmore Papers since 1983. He is the author of several collections of poems, most recently Closing Time (Pindrop, 2014) and Stepping Back: Resubmission for the Ordinary Level Examination in Psychogeography (Frogmore Press, 2016). His translations of the Lesbia poems of Catullus were published as The Cost of All Desire by the Ashley Press in 2011. In 2015 he co-edited an anthology of life writing, True Tales from the Old Hill. A novella, London Calling is scheduled for publication by Cultured Llama in September. He lives in Lewes, UK, and is currently Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Sussex.

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