Friday, 21 April 2017


                                                               I’m sticking by water.
                                                               It’s done nothing wrong.
                                                               It doesn’t divide the shores
                                                               of this lake. It joins them.
                                                               The same with that island.
                                                               Islands don’t float on air
                                                               and air is also a form
                                                               of connection (you’d not
                                                               hear me speak otherwise –
                                                               or that broadcaster on-air).

                                                               Looked at from here
                                                               all there is between us
                                                               are waves and the world
                                                               is an archipelago
                                                               whose shores are blurred
                                                               by tides and salvage
                                                               reminders of migrations.
                                                               Put your ear to the surface
                                                               and you might hear
                                                               the distant sounding of whales.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Friday, 14 April 2017


Just so much light and colour
takes us back to where,
without second thoughts,
we’ll always be unquestioned:
kitchen, ingredients, implements
ready for a life restored,
this fruitfulness already preserved.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Тази маймуна е отишла до Небето/This monkey’s gone to Heaven

There’s a glow across the city brick this afternoon.
The balloons are up and couples discuss their future
on a crowded bar terrace. We let each other pass
on narrow pavements without a word of complaint.
You could almost believe that everything was normal,

that this was precisely what those eons of evolution
were for – the moment in the local corner store,
when, while men dithered by the cabinets, the owner
leant over the counter and waved to the woman
outside with a greyhound. ‘Come in,’ he said. ‘Come in.’

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Saturday, 1 April 2017

От там до тук/From there to here

                                                        I know the way home
                                                        to ulitsa Maglen
                                                        as well as any
                                                        I’ve known.

                                                        The non-stop shop,
                                                        tramlines in grass,
                                                        the long shank
                                                        of cyclepath
                                                        leading to nothing
                                                        but neon.

                                                        rolled me out
                                                        of a taxi
                                                        in the wrong street
                                                        at 2am.
                                                        No street dogs
                                                        to guide me then –

                                                        just a blank square
                                                        between apartment blocks
                                                        and the faintest trace
                                                        of flowers that grew
                                                        in an end-of-season goalmouth.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Friday, 24 March 2017

Кръг/A circle

                                                             This story has no direction.
                                                             It takes a hike in the woods,
                                                             gets lost amongst the trees.
                                                             In the café at the end of the world,
                                                             it eats black grapes,
                                                             comments on the weather
                                                             and plays heads and tails
                                                             with foreign coins.

                                                             Who cares about it?
                                                             Only the only child
                                                             who can’t get to sleep
                                                             because outside the window
                                                             the black grapes on the vine
                                                             translate the wind into Morse code
                                                             and birds hit the glass
                                                             like coins falling onto a table.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Friday, 17 March 2017

Открита земя/Open land

                                             Reading of border country, how easy to be put in mind –
                                             as if it really were a thought refusing to disperse –
                                             of thick cloud above the innocent countryside
                                             and the furthest station we were allowed.
                                             At the end of a different world, we had no choice
                                             but to make a choice, being amongst those
                                             who were free to, as far as we could tell.
                                             Nothing to be dwelt on here but remains
                                             of political exigencies: terrain left wild
                                             so that something other might be tamed.

                                             As the rain blurs sky and horizon, there’s room
                                             for hesitancies, tact, diffusion of old solidities –
                                             an intuition which comes up through the grass
                                             as persistently as this changeable season’s flowers.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Цветя от езерото/Flowers by the lake

Turn left at the bridge and where tarmac runs out,
I’m back along the shore beside bulrush clumps
and wavelet patterns that no formula explains.
There’s birdsong, though, and a lot of it.
Then the joggers out on a Friday evening,
intent and indifferent. Dog-walkers too –
with their vague apologetic gestures.

Amongst the branches whose verdigris
is a deeper imitation of pale copper roofs,
there might well be some recognisable species.
Insistent billboards line the path
and questions about truth go unanswered.
It’s not about that any more.

In the shallows, a moorhen gingerly steps
from a half-submerged branch
and launches into the mainstream.
We will bring all this round, perhaps,
as the aftermath gathers like a cloud,
and somewhere there is spring
between the footprints that coots leave
and the new buildings which give out
across the botanical gardens.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips