Reading Hugh Hodge aloud on the London Underground

People were going by at a fast pace. Some were running to catch their trains. There was a sense of migration, of determined, instinct-driven movement. They had no time to stop, no time to focus on what was being read to them as they descended on escalators that plunged to the depths of underground London.

A long poem would have been lost. So short Text Messages were read. A commuter, pushing by, might have heard only a single line. Another might have heard only one word. But these would have been words like: Love. Honey. Light. Longing. You.  Mirror.  And they would have stuck like black-jacks to winter coats, determined to be noticed at home, later, and pondered.

On the escalator, a young boy was alerted to the word “galaxy” and looked enchanted. And a young man glanced across when he heard “each moment of eternity, my love” as though he thought it was the voice of a lost sweetheart lamenting him.

Ten text messages
Hugh Hodge

give oranges to sweet hearts
honey to lovers
pare fruit and dice
eat at passion’s table
drink deeply
hold your love’s gaze
lick your lips
remember to kiss

talk me down
O Icarus
I close the light
so heated I
wax and wane
flow and ebb
search your body
with my poet’s tongue
to articulate this
word unknown to
any man

a poet combs the horizon
at the edge of his longing
no distance is closer
than his heart or further
from his voice
so he sings his lullaby
to the morning light

even the wind knows nothing
of love how it is
nowhere and everywhere
how it speaks
in caress and roughness
how I turn to you
in this weather
this season’s quiet

filled with thoughts of you
almost pure
a joy I knew I had
carefully parcelled behind the hearth
waiting for the day
to bring out
and show you
who I am

could I count the ways
each pebble each powdered
galaxy each beat of hearts
each blink each song
each drop in the forest stream
each moment of eternity
my love

the circus leaves town
the trapeze artist sleeps
the lioness measures her cage
only the clown remains
serious under his mask
is that a tear
I see
in this mirror

she touches this edge
peels me
reveals the pith
and seed
that sweetness
the honey
of busy lives
and all with a song
of summer kisses
of watermelon sugar

black night
petrol pink
dawn sea
slick and still
and sacred
ibis queue
in space time
the stars lost
again and me
here too
hope and tide
turns another

send a perfumed letter
wear gold on your right hand
nothing else
to distract me
do not smile
or touch your throat
you are not naked
yet your body is song

Hugh Hodge is the former editor of New Contrast. He is a published poet, writing facilitator and host of live poetry events.

Photos by Romaney Pinnock

From Africa! My Africa!  An anthology of poems selected by Patricia Schonstein. ISBN 978-1-874915-20-1
African Sun Press:


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