Alistair Elliot

A Day Off

Well, I’ll go window-shopping in Larousse for seeds of words. Strangely, they’re not for sale — you help yourself to what the worlds produce. Here are the conic sections, there the whales, the art, the musical instruments, the wigs…. My search is stopped by a picture of the sarigue, Didelphis, a marsupial of the west,

Porridge Season

Tuesday morning. The Chopin of golden syrup is going to perform his Breakfast Fantaisie for teaspoon and dessertspoon. Such a treat to see those thin arthritic fingers pose a moment over the tranquil creamy surface. The oats lie quiet, possibly getting cold. But on the left a deep and mellow chord lands in the centre

The Old Man Comes Out With an Opinion

This long orchestral piece records a day the composer spent one summer meditating in Dibnah’s yard on the sounds of dereliction, or possibly the dereliction of sound: the settlement of rust, the flake and drift toward the earth of forged and hammered things, the creak of shiny flanges in the wind, and the occasional crash

Love-making in Water

Seals — well, they rhyme with steel — can stand the cold. And they can even dive and mate at once. They hold their breath; and one knows how to fold his vulnerable parts into the other’s. Even virgin seals don’t need experience to do this properly so no one smothers. We need warm waters

Seals (Iona)

No angels listen when you cry out here, but seals rise up to see, and criticize perhaps, as you intone the omega (their favourite vowel) or the medical alpha (sticking your tongue out) for these gods of ocean. Words wouldn’t do. There are no consonants in the mouths of seals. They can appreciate only the

Wingless Words

Let us praise poets who are not afraid of Therefore – or of other wingless words that do what they are told, and nothing more. The shiny words fly in with their ideas scattering light, and settle on the hand of these old neighbours, friends from Lexicon Street: their wooden arms hold up such procreant