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LETTERS TO FRIENDS

Written by: Barry Tebb | Biography
 I


Eddie Linden

Dear Eddie we’ve not met

Except upon the written page 

And at your age the wonder 

Is that you write at all

When so many have gone under 

Or been split asunder by narcissistic humours

Blunder following blunder

Barker and Graham, godfathering my verse

Bearing me cloud-handed to Haworth moor

From my chained metropolitan moorings,

O hyaline March morning with Leeds

At its thrusting best, the thirsty beasts

Of night quenched as the furnaces

Of Hunslet where Hudswell Clarke’s locos

Rust in their skeletal sheds, rails skewed

To graveyards platforms and now instead

Skyscrapers circle the city, cranes, aeroplanes,

Electric trains but even they cannot hinder

Branches bursting with semen

Seraphic cloud sanctuaries shunting

Us homeward to the beckoning moors.

II

Brenda Williams

Leeds voices soothe the turbulence

‘Ey’ ‘sithee’ and ‘love’, lastingly lilt

From cradle to grave, from backstreet

On the social, our son, beat his way

To Eton, Balliol, to Calcatta’s Shantiniketan

And all the way back to a locked ward.

While I in the meantime fondly fiddled 

With rhyme and unreason, publishing pamphlets

And Leeds Poetry Weekly while under the bane

Of his tragic illness, poet and mother,

You were driven from pillar to post

By the taunting yobbery of your family

And the crass insensitivity of wild therapy

To the smoking dark of despair,

Locked in your flat in the Abbey Road

With seven cats and poetry.

O stop and strop your bladed darkness

On the rock of ages while plangent tollings

Mock your cradled rockings, knock by knock.



III

Debjani Chatterjee

In these doom-laden days

You are steady as a pilot nursing tired ships homeward

Through churning seas

Where grey gulls scream

Forlornly and for ever.

I am the red-neck,

Bear-headed blaster

Shifting sheer rock

To rape the ore of poetry’s plunder

Or bulldozing trees to glean mines of silver

While you sail serenely onward 

Ever the diplomat’s daughter

Toujours de la politesse.

IV

Daisy Abey

Daisy, dearest of all, safest

And kindest, watcher and warner

Of chaotic corners looming

Round poetry’s boomerang bends

I owe you most a letter

While you are here beside me

Patient as a miller waiting on wind

To drive the great sails

Through summer. 

When the muse takes over

I am snatched from order and duty

Blowing routine into a riot of going

And coming, blind, backwards, tip

Over arse, sea waves crashing in suburbia,

Saturnalia in Sutton, headlines of mad poet

Striding naked over moors, roaring

"I am here I am waiting".

V

Jeremy Reed

Niagaras of letters on pink sheets

In sheaths of silver envelopes

Mutually exchanged. I open your missives

Like undressing a girl in my teens

Undoing the flap like a recalcitrant

Bra strap, the letters stiff as nipples

While I stroke the creviced folds

Of amber and mauve and lick

As I stick stamps like the clitoris

Of a reluctant virgin, urgent for

Defloration and the pulse of orgasm.



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