David Harsent


Griffin Poetry Prize 2008
International Shortlist

Book: Selected Poems 1969-2005

Poet: David Harsent

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

David Harsent reads from “Marriage” XVI

from “Marriage” XVI, by David Harsent

from “Marriage” XVI

I perch on a ‘Bauhaus-style’ chrome and raffia
stool as you drop your knife and pause to consider
this fish and its fistula,

this fish with its deep deformity, its head like a cosh,
its raw flank and blood-brown eyes,
its lips of lopsided blubber,

this fish we are having for supper.
You laid out cold cash
to have them deliver this fish, close-packed in ice,

a glacier coelacanth preserved against all the odds,
as if some throw of the dice, some coin
turning a thousand years to come down heads,

had brought to the marble slab in our kitchen
of all kitchens this fish, sporting
its jowly truncheon-lump of sorbo rubber

and the great wet ulcer opening beneath its backbone.
As you start again, flensing good from bad, let you spill
a viscous flub of gut that slips

from your wrist to the marble, where it spells
out the hierogram most often linked
with the once in a lifetime, miraculous

descent of the goddess, her gills
crisp enough to cut as you trade kiss for kiss.
Flesh of her flesh. I’ll eat it if you will.

From Selected Poems 1969-2005, by David Harsent
Copyright © David Harsent, 2007


Griffin Poetry Prize 2012
International Winner

Book: Night

Poet: David Harsent

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

David Harsent reads Blue

From Abstracts – Blue

It sings they say, and so it does: something like the note
that fractures glass or gets so far below
the range of human hearing that it shakes your heart;

and the glass it breaks is blue, and that’s a blue note for sure
from the guy on the alto sax in the basement dive,
which is where they’re bound to meet up in the classic noir,

the private eye, the girl with a shadowy past, the old-style cop,
and it’s nigh-on certain she’ll have to take a bullet
or we’ll see her in prison blue as they lead her to the drop.

THe fragments of glass were part of it too, that’s plain,
though no one noticed, just as they failed to spot
how the crucifix in her bedroom made sense of the subtle stain

on her cocktail dress. And in this, the director’s cut,
the dive is deeper, the saxophone sadder, the cop
bent as a dog’s hind leg, the girl a scheming slut,

and the gumshoe comes in late with the one and only clue
that would finally set things straight, though its true
meaning is hidden from him, and lost on you.

From Night, by David Harsent
© David Harsent, 2011

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