This selection of poems by Paul Archer are gathered into collections that have a thematic unity. Below the title of each poem you will find its opening lines.
Click on the poem's title to read the poem in full.
A limited edition portfolio of poems with accompanying illustrations by the artist, Geoff MacEwan.
For more information about the poems and artwork in this collection, please go to:
Natural Causes - Poems and Etchings.
||Encounter With A Blackbird
Once - while pruning orange trees,
Snipping white wood
Out of lime-green leaves -
I saw a cluster of dead twigs
And stepped up the ladder,
And there: a sleek head,
Yellow beak, rivet eye...
Have you taken a grapefruit from the fridge,
Sliced it open, segmented it with the serrated knife,
Sprinkled sugar on, while stood at the kitchen window
Startled by the first winter snowfall?
Staring into the chilled and crowded air
The tang of the grapefruit smacks
Its truth onto your tongue and throat
As it slips down, slice by slice...
||Summer in Mallorca
The terrace stripped bare of every shadow.
A gecko basks. The sun sheers off
Dimensions and desiccates
The orange tree leaves, the soil, their roots.
A dictatorship blaring senseless
Propaganda through klaxon sunrays.
A herrador in a ferocious forge
Hammering on the anvil of the earth...
Into The Interior
Blame in the incessant voices of the rain,
Praise in the birdsong after the storm,
Tramping where cascades leap and roll,
Clothed in the slow wind from the shore.
Sunrise pulls back the mist and cold,
Streams chatter news from the mountain.
Sunset sends out a dark insect swarm...
||2:45 am The Wind
Tugging and tearing -
Backing off - tugging and tearing,
But this is not a terrier.
It's the wind punching at ghosts,
Arguing with itself, railing against
The air it's forced to live in...
My bike's lamp peers ahead
A few yards. Knees pump
Under a plastic raincape.
Tyres swish over tarmac.
Flicking the Sturmey-Archer
Lever to the lowest gear,
Standing to push the pedals,
Zig-zagging the front wheel...
When he comes
Hot-footing up the drive
In those army boots that go so well
With his camouflage jacket,
Will there be a polite rap
Or a heavy thump on the door?
Or will he just breeze in?...
||Lemons On The Lemon Trees
Lemons like lanterns in the trees,
Tired green leaves, darkening sky.
Not the lemons money can buy:
Not icy yellow, smooth and pristine;
These are swollen-bellied, knobby,
Blotched cream, ochre, green...
Black out. So black
We have to make light of it,
But there's no light,
No touch, taste,
Sound, scent - no-one.
Keep Off The Grass
A collection of poems about man's interaction with nature. The way that man can stand mentally aloof from nature but, being himself woven into its fabric, this stance carries consequences.
Keep Off The Grass
On your right is the picture gallery
with displays of countryside scenes
to refresh the eye with long forgotten vistas...
We might say this land
is like a cobbled street,
pack ice broken into floes...
It had climbed from the lavender
under the open window
and now creeps along the sill...
One Autumn Day in the Far North Country
'It's Autumn and the fire of red maples
rampages along the mountains,' so our
Japanese poet records, for a while...
After Blackberry Picking
In the hedgerow's
clusters of blackberries,
bare arms grazed...
Forces of Nature
This garden has a complex geometry.
But the wind crumples up calculations.
It shakes what hasn't stopped dead...
It's not as good once you get there
Like dreams brought into the open.
Just sand and a red, sluggish...
The Difference Between a Palm and Me
Would it prefer to scurry out of the way of the wind that comes?
Is it annoying when the wind bends and shakes its curving fronds?
Or quite pleasant, perhaps? If it had a mouth to speak...
I was forking the soil
ready for vegetables
to sow from packs of seed...
This year's summer collection is here
Wild cottage garden flowers
Teetering on their long legs...
I've been burning winter fires -
trying to forget about you
and failing miserably...
Hill fields of runnelled emerald
grab lopsided cowlegs.
Slate slabs are plaster...
The Solicitude of Solitude
If this sun were smoke it would be a shawl
spread between the olive trees, if the trees were gazelles
they’d be perched on graceful legs of frosted dew...
Sunset Swim at Bens d'Avall
We only went to the bay
at Bens d'Avall
Mallorcan Landscape with Painter
under an olive tree,
sweat slicks his skin...
Rudi came unannounced "Will you let me in?"
His scooter parked in the lane, hand on the gate's latch.
He felt the curled orange tree leaves, sniffed them...
Serra de Tramuntana
Most would say the sky is constantly changing
And so it does: soft white, gentian blue,
Tones of pewter shading to granite black...
This blowing of the sea
On the shore
Could be from a horse...
My breath is held
and expelled, and held...
out in the cold...
Not Swivelling Away
You can set it all against the turning of the year's cycle,
The soft shapes of twilight, the brilliance of day,
The lone corncrake in the marsh...
Voices of the Rain
The voices of the rain like pedlars in the street,
Sheltering by the doorway, I listen...
And now as I step out...
The bamboo thicket we cut back
To clear the garden
Has now grown onto the ashes...
Tan legs tie and untie bows
In streams of striped fish.
Gliding down veils of pinks...
The waterfall mimics the noise
Of brittle-winged cicadas.
The river's numerous vowels...
Straining to catch their words,
Always lost, however
Strongly I draw inwards...
Cherry Blossom Views
Crazily dancing the cherry trees go
That were so sedate.
Now the wind scampers away...
Is there a world outside
In the comfort of its airconditioned chamber
The conference faces climate change
With words like 'urgent' and 'action'...
Signs of Life
A collection of poems about how we relate to each other. How this can be stimulating or antagonistic once we step out of the silent and secret worlds in which we hide.
These are the visible signs of human life.
Here's what happened on my way home
Not half an hour ago: the laces came undone
On one of my shoes - the right one...
Mr Raji is stopped by Customs
Mr Raji collected his bag
from the carousel
and followed the signs to the exit...
We shuffle round Departures
past Security but even less sure
of ourselves, patting pockets...
A Little Italian Place
When people say:
'We went to dinner at a little
Italian place near the apartment'...
Silhouette on a Staircase in Swindon
Dark suddenly, the day's circulation choked off.
Dizzy carlights, a wipered transparent
In a circle of polished shoes, skirted knees,
Trousered legs, like in the ring at a circus,
Voices winging like insects, jackals, birds...
A Weekend Break
It was what they wanted, to get away,
But was it some sort of end? Friday night,
And they worry it might sneak up on them...
Night in a 7-11
Of yellow tomatos
Burst into flames...
Fade in: He makes coffee,
Turns on the T.V. news,
Stands at the window - becomes...
Meeting Geoff in the Plaza
I don't have to sit there long
Before someone I know
Stops to have a coffee with me...
She sang: like no bird has sung
higher than a snowy peak
her voice in the clear air...
The abondoned cat goes home
The cat goes home
till all the angles seem right,
the alignment of the stars...
Enkidu and Shamat
He grazed on grasses with the gazelles,
he had a man's arms and the long hair of a girl,
he drank from the same water as the cows and goats...
Curious, I lift it from the beach.
Water falls from the heel, it's sand
Plastered, crusty with salt and weed...
Carried on by Crowds
To be carried on by crowds
is to roll where whitewater runs.
With distress left behind in a heap...
She glides through the crowds
On her rollerblades
In her cropped T-shirt...
I can tell she's leaving someone she grew to know too well
And she cannot yet see her destination.
The breeze comes all the way from the horizon...
Making an Investigation
It's always the smallest of clues
that causes suspicion, the fuse
that sets off the fire, the two...
In his Single Room at the Hotel
After heated accusations
And bitter recriminations
It's silent now, exiled from...
Tea & Whisky
She stirred the tea
inside the pot
while he put the...
Two sets of handwriting:
One, firm, functional,
The other, cursive ornate...
Now and Then
So in love
we couldn't eat a thing
and waiters would ask...
Knee-Length Brown Leather Boots
You in your knee-length boots
Striding down outside St John's
And I, on the opposite side...
She kept a smart house, even when alone.
She was carefully turned out, fastidious and
Fair-skinned, make-up done, each jewel stone...
Life & Soul
Tonight there's a battle in the skies,
Through the window's scratches
From the shrapnel of the storm...
Christmas Eve, King's College
In the desert of sand and stone
The hoofprints of a camel train
That travels on to Bethlehem...
Two boys by a rock pool,
You remember how we were?
Shoulders tanned as sand...
I don’t know him anymore:
this freckle-faced boy
standing on the wet sand...
The First Eleven
The blue and white striped football jersey
plucked from the peg, more chilly
than our own skin as we shrugged it on.....
School Lunch Break
He lies in the sun
Like a sheep in its wool,
Time has trickled into a pool...
Maid of the Lakes
She had got off the stage in Keswick town
And, glad of a hat, walked six miles,
Her skirt hitched up, her mind on each...
Her laugh is the yellow
Lightning on winter nights that floods
The valley's sides, Isabella...
I was never scared
he'd leave me.
Until the day his horse...
It might do us good to take a walk tonight,
A little further than the lights but not too far.
Not being bothered by what’s out of sight...
In your hippocampus is your short term memory, in the
Amygdale is your sense of smell and the expression of
Emotions, fight or flight, rage or fear, your lepta is for...
Not My Type
Women who put men in a velvet box
Like a piece of heirloom jewellery
Or a cadaver that can't get up to tricks...
Here no Winters or Autumns are,
Nor oceans of sapphire or jade.
Only deep night without a star...
November in Okayama
November in Okayama,
It rains 'zaza', like in London.
Under your purple umbrella...
talking about the rock
bands we love
Softly Rocks the Heart's Cradle (haiku-inspired poems)
Waterfalls try all the ways of falling from one place to another.
An eyelash traps the summer sun's quivering butterfly wings.
Under the moonlight this falling snow seems to have no beginning.
Faded Blue Flower Pattern (haiku-inspired poems)
The new neighbour scythes the tall grass of his lawn with a bright new blade.
Having worn my path to then keep flowing gently like this mountain stream.
A tear washed a black koku yoseki onto her eye's white beach.
What I Wear for Writing
This collection of poems examines how we write and read poems to make sense of the world.
It strips bare the poetic impulse that is in all of us whether we are aware of it or not.
You Ask What I Wear For Writing
Sometimes I write naked
as a neanderthal.
I write about bones and fire...
Advice to Poets
Don't drive a car. Dreaming up a poem
is not compatible with judging
distances and steering straight...
A poem's licking its way over you,
Licking your delicate bits,
The ones you show only certain people...
Stunned By Shakespeare
I'd like to join this gang
Of poets, their books
Tower above me - beckoning...
So You Want To Write
Let's start big - imagine you're the universe.
- Now, what would a nebula explosion feel like?
Go on - you can go there!...
It began with question marks going off to interrogate
the gravestone of a political philosopher in Highgate Cemetery,
then we saw the guillemets, flocks of them on telegraph poles...
If this poem came from IKEA
It would be a flatpack poem
You'd have to assemble it...
A Question of Perspective
The plume from an airplane's engines surges over
A swimming pool blue sky. Someone in a window seat
Might have glanced below, seen the town's roofs smudged into one...
Come on, you can't stay there in bed,
Not when a poem's ready to climb like Dracula
From its coffin or burst like a fluttering dove...
A Web Poem
is thousands of pixels
but you're not seeing them.
You're seeing the words and
lines that form the poem...
Deaths Of Poets
It's not true that all poets
Died early from sickness
Or were victims
of violent deaths...
It won't get the washing done,
Make the beds, pay the bills or make that call.
It won't bring a love back...
Jumper on the bed. A dead weight.
It's been following me
From house move to drawer move...
The Poems Project
The poems project will provide
a capability for the parallel or distributed
implementation of adaptive applications...
Sound of Mind
A collection of poems that follows the neural pathways inside the brain to find the connections as we process thoughts and feelings.
Thoughts on Consciousness
What is perceived
The Far Reaches
Her flesh shrank
from the spars
of her shipwreck...
Twenty Four Hours
He swaggers through suburbia,
Each turn of the street
Like a twist in a tale of adventure...
That balmy summer holiday
by the seaside when I was nine
and woke but wasn't really awake...
The man in the sun lounger
has an itch in his nose.
He scratches it, he pulls at it...
My Psychotherapist is Lying on the Couch
My psychotherapist is lying on the couch.
He has a bad back. Brought on by cancer,
Brought on by having to deal with people like me...
It's like asking directions in a foreign land,
In an unknown language, something like that.
Or halting in the dust of a desert road...
"The patient is comfortable," reports
the doctor. What does that mean? That he's so drugged up
he can't think of the limb cut off when he couldn't...
After the toll is paid, the barrier lifts,
And you drive into the orifice in the hill.
Cool darkness hardens on the road...
Can't Think What It Can Be
It nags at you as you stand
On the doorstep, it's time
To leave but you hesitate...
Late for a meeting and stuck in traffic,
I dream of teleporting myself right now so I'm
Suddenly there - not having to apologise for being late...
in the rain
lacking the size
Fragment Of Time
As if it were a diamond that someone rich
Might take from a dusty shelf,
It was a tiny fragment of time which...
At the end of it all, what will be left of us? There are many ends, from the easy to the excruciating, but they probably all lead to the same void of non-existence.
When Earth is burnt to the bone, what traces will be left of our human story?
By 1.20 a.m. the firestorm
Raged 2,000 metres into the sky
Even the canals blazed...
The Return: Wootton Bassett
A Globemaster plane rumbles low
Over the town and rips apart
A scar in the bruised clouds...
When he comes
Hot-footing up the drive
In those army boots that go so well...
At This Moment
Someone turns the light on
Looks down the barrel of a
A New Year Death
Crowds in the stores
On the last days
Of the New Year sales...
Visiting The Sick
I'd arrive shaking the rain off me
Like a dog, frisky, the waterdrops
Were broken pieces of cold sunshine...
His life is letters of gold
Carved into black marble.
The letters are his name...
Say if you will my name
and speak of me without a shadow
in your voice, speak of me easily...
Sonnet on the passing of Ellen
There is a garden with an old apple tree
And flower borders round the lawn
And ripe tomatoes in the conservatory...
He'd halt the choir
to declare "Altos!
You're either too sharp...
The stern command of gravestones
Below the thin spires of cypress trees
And the long trudging ridge of the Tramuntana...
Out of what minds came this cruel art?
That something so small, only coffin size,
Could have taken Hiroshima apart...
The Last Haiku
The monitors are silent
Beside the hospital bed.
The Haiku Club's Chairman...
No More Questions
We don't think about any of this
When we start with the innocent
'I love you' and 'I love you too'...
It Would Be Real If I Cried
When the boots slammed into his head
my father had nowhere to hide.
The thugs left him dying or dead...
All beauty can die eventually
Facing glory, hate, introspection,
Joking, killing, loving...