8 Days Remaining
Barnaby Tydeman

Wednesday 7th
posted by Jody Porter in Arts

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter

Leaving your basement
Barnaby Tydeman

There was a particular girl
in the crowd/ at the Half Moon, in Herne Hill/
looking at the stage, the waves/
in the living room, remembering the music/
inviting round the girl who read French poetry
on the streets of Twickenham/ watching Le Mépris,
with your art school; do you know how long it took
to get home, from nights out? To the backwoods/
it took deep into the light of the morning
into the next day’s emptiness
on the railway high above/ on the bridges of the Thames/
over Richmond Bridge, past those bushed back gardens,
do you know them,
and I thought about their maze/
how they broke up boredom/
how they were a landscape
abused and interrupted;

I had to leave my friends behind/ in their metropolitan/
in their connected/ in their deep-walled/
waking on their sofa/ in the sunshine, in the basement/
bored on my shift, at the department store, in Kingston;

and when I had no friends, the next year,
when I’d run away from them,
I played the New York Dolls, and then alone
with you, at the Half Moon, in the daytime/
near your parents’/ by Brockwell Park, the door
in the corner, to the back-rooms; closed/ with the music/
empty/ before you left for university/
looking at each-other, standing on the speakers/
the curtains/ whoever she was, when I was seventeen

I heard you were/ the last time I saw you/
—I love you, you, and you—
I heard it was flooded/ I heard she was a poet,

my summer was a burning space
of poverty, and silence; behind the city/
like a nuclear, infinite/ silence and white
in the staring jungle, empty/ reverberating
moped noise, coming closer/ in the heaths
by the lakes of the gravel pits; places I could take
a mixed-up girlfriend from the estate, never one
from Herne Hill/ never a girl from Hampton/
never a face from Putney; and none of them knew
the tangles, and the ditches/ like the hollow
of forgotten aeroplane crashes/
the jagged garages, broken off/ by Dead River/
the sunken temples of shopping precincts;
it would never enter
the mind of a girl
in a copper bath, in Richmond;
a back-room as vast as this,
to the sky,
so empty.



Barnaby Tydeman spent the winter of 2015-16 farm-sitting in Sicily, writing an illustrated epic poem about the landscapes, myths, and crises of Greece. He was published in the anthology Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis in 2015. When not teaching in Greece, he lives on a narrowboat on London's River Lea. Barnaby's poetry and photography can be found on his blog:

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