THE RAW SIDE
Poems by Frank Goodridge
Frank Goodridge has taught English and Creative Writing in the University of Lancaster. He is better known as author of the Penguin Classics Piers Plowman and two controversial studies of Wuthering Heights. The Raw Side brings together poems written over a period of 20 years. It is a first collection.
The Raw Side
Why, in bleak December, in your black leather jacket
do you sit alone and not shiver
building a little fire in the shape of a steeple
on the raw side of the river?
You, and your tiny fire and a matchbox transistor,
not making a racket,
but singing on the grayed grass that the water has mangled,
preferring the mud and gravel’s open scars
that weep and fester
to juke-boxes and steam of coffee-bars.
The mist is in the trees, the tide is down,
the stumps that stand in the stream are naked now,
and a hundred sparrows have taken refuge to sing
in a clump of tall green reeds above the brown
bays of broken bank, where the water seeps
from beneath the barren brow
of an empty, murderous towpath facing convent.
On the raw side, the wounded land gives way;
the water undermines it, and for miles behind
dead sowthistles rattle and brown ragworts hiss,
parsley, hemlock and oxtongues scythe the wind
around treacherous pits, without a tree.
If you raise your eyes, you’ll see on the healed-up side
the gardens backed with stone, where the heavy tide
swings against delicate boathouse;
school and college, chapel and block of flats,
memorial gardens with a statuette
a decaying mansion that’s To Let
with its rusted grating, home of water rats
beside the boatbuilder’s warehouse piled with logs,
and other suburban premises
suitable for gentlewomen with their dogs.
Perhaps you prefer the raw side,
the drift, the mud, the singing birds, the tide
and hanging branches of willow that rise and fall
with the wind’s breath
to the silent death
of suburbs in a wintry pall
of smog and gothic pride
simpering along a sullen waterside.
THE RAW SIDE
Price £4.95 per copy post free (£3.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: Not credited
Publication: 1978 (36 pages laminated paperback)