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Houses Without Walls

Houses Without Walls

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Susan Utting's poem Woodwork was highly commended for the Forward Prize Best Single Poem 2006. Woodwork was also 'Poem on Sunday' in the Independent on Sunday

"These are intelligent, wittily passionate poems. Susan Utting has an eye for real and telling details, and is adept at employing them to good effect." - David Constantine

"Poets are often praised for knowing what to leave out. Susan Utting knows what to leave in. Ordinary things gain an almost hallucinatory vividness in her richly textured poems. Utting animates life’s brittle edges and her poems carry unforced emotional weight." - Moniza Alvi

"Susan Utting’s underlying concerns, love, loss, memory and the absence of it, among others, are universal, but she reveals them to us through a world that is unfamiliar, disconcerting and just beyond momentary recognition. Her subtly crafted pieces whisk us into a carnival samba of acrobats, nocturnal topiarists, castanets, pocket knives, splinters of broken china, snatches of rhyme, song, riddle, and long-distance telephone haiku. A stunning book, its disarming, kaleidoscope vision takes the reader into the jumbled interiors of houses without walls, into the heart of what it is to be human." - Anne-Marie Fyfe

Today’s Blue

Today’s blue’s nothing but turquoise, it does not
shift in the light from duck-egg bright to aqua,
it is not a patch of sky to mend a sailor’s trousers
or the uniform of girls let out in crocodiles, on pre-set
routes through Mellor’s Park on Wednesday afternoons.

It’s not indelible on children’s tongues, or carbon
smudged on sweaty palms and touch-type fingerprints,
nor is it jazzy/sad mood indigo for something small
you’ll always miss but never really had; today’s blue
is a memory of worsted cloth, tacked long and loose,

worn inside out, marked white with broken lines
of tailor’s chalk. It is a man cross-legged on a table
in a backroom; it is not my father, though he’s there
and with me and would understand the weft and warp,
the mesh of yarn, tight-woven to a blue so dark

you’d call it black; that he’d call midnight.

Phone Call from a Phone Box on the East Coast

And I feel the chill
that comes straight from the Steppes to
the point where gulls swoop.

Phone call from America

There’s an echo on
the line: your double, asking,
after mine’s answered.

Noise, Great West Road

We knew that it wasn’t the wind,
but the sound of the underground train
Coming up for the air, over the wall
At the end of our area yard.

We lived semi-basemented, coal-holed
and railinged, at home to the overhead
drumming of boots from a neighbour
gone Spanish for love;

we were snug,
huggamug with West Indian weddings,
chiropractors and washing-line underwear
thieves; with paraffin stoves that caught fire,

doorstep shit, corner-shop pregnancies,
men who turned out to be women, bottle-
fight pubs, one-armed bandits that flashed
to the smashing of glass while the landlord

kept serving, and we kept on hearing
the Underground whooshing, as windrush.