DECELERATIONS

The great quality of Martin Domleo’s poetry is clarity. This is not to imply simplification or nicety: he has complex and difficult things to say and isn’t nervous of a dark theme; but his writing is always lucid and precise. He has an unerring capacity to hit just the right tone and phrase for his theme and his voice is humane, tolerant, a salve for troubled times. His sympathies are with the abused, the neglected, the victims of arrogance or greed, but he never lets himself fall into rhetoric. Rather he frames a poem to touch us in the best of our natures, gently and without an anxiety to persuade. His range is impressive too. There is tragedy here but humour as well. Martin Domleo has refined his style over the years. This is a memorable collection.

Alan Dent

Visit to London

Arrived at Euston dead on time,
walked to the Royal Academy,
viewed modern masters in their prime,
discovered Serov and Vrubel.

Travelled the crowded underground,
relived the sumptuous displays.
Found Shakespeare’s theatre in the round,
browsed books in cobbled alleyways.             

Caught the return with moments to spare,
sank gratefully into a seat.            
Purred to the north of Milton Keynes,          
slowed down, slid forwards. Motion ceased.  

A manager apologised,
power had been disconnected.
Someone had jumped off a parapet.
Attempted suicide, he said.

The atmosphere changed on the train  
like a canvas under a cloud.
Monet, Derain, Matisse, Cezanne,
their brilliant palettes faded                        

amid cold and fog while we waited
for that poor sod to be lifted off 
the overhead lines, his snow-flecked
body stiffened with a thousand volts.
  
When I thought of the seminal art
I saw Cezanne in southern France:
he should have been painting Sainte-Victoire
but it was House of the Hanged Man.