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Matt Simpson was born in Merseyside in 1936. His poetry collections include: Making Arrangements (1982), An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems (1990), Catching Up With History (1995), Getting There (2001) and In Deep (2006). He was also the author of  four commentaries on Shakespeareís plays, and was a frequent reviewer and contributor to anthologies for children. His collected essays were published in 2003 under the title Hugging the Shore. He was poet in residence in Tasmania in 1995, and his journal for this period (Cutting the Clouds Towards) was published in 1998. Until his retirement in 1998, he was senior lecturer in English at Liverpool Hope University. He died in 2009.






So much, I know, depends on me.


Letís be positive, you say.

Not always easy when, deprived of choice,

the ability to come and go at will,

I stiffen into glum resentment like a child

kept in and punishing the world with sulks.


When I try it works,

seems such a simple thing to do.


This morning I discover on my desk a rose

fetched from the garden, an October rose,

and by its side a shy loverís letter shaming me,

thanking me for being kind.





                                            Judging from the pictures,

                                                     Hell looks the more

                                                     interesting place.


                                                                       Japanese Senryū


Iím shaken by my friendís account of how

in sleep I struggle with Ďdemonsí half the night,

rev to climaxes that seem to want

to burst me out of it but seldom do. Itís as if


Iíve trudged across the Bridge of Sighs,

with one last glimpse of the hazed lagoon,

to slink and slump into the Dogeís dungeons, there

thrash about and whimper like the damned


in those fresco-Hells that weíve been looking at

all week. Iíd naively thought of sleep as decorous,

that what went on in dreams fussed only the mind.

Now itís indecent, a betrayal of something intimate


by a self I do not, and can never, really know.

Yet if I did (albeit heís no mate of mine, I can

imagine him a Trickster with Punchinello nose,

waggish jaw, hinting at secrets, a misdirected life),


would he be someone reading palms, dictating poems;

would I cadge or nick his mask and go to Hell

in Venice with that bad and dangerous man

who aptly named the Bridge?







 copyright © Matt Simpson