Three Poems


Oz Hardwick





Occluded figures


Behind the usual martyrdoms lie walled cities and fields, labourers, and other extras with walk-on parts in their own lives. Where Auden found a moral, I can only find technique, brushstrokes, candle stubs, and days crumbling in on themselves as fruit dries on a dusty shelf and birds shuffle on terracotta roofs. A spectre paces sunset corridors, barefoot and burning-eyed, viola-voiced, her glance wheedling vines from trippers’ lips. Later, she will blow invisible smoke into strangers’ faces at pavement cafes — a buffed tile in a Romanesque mosaic, a brief note mid-phrase, an unwashed brush, stiff sable bending blue to an angle beyond discomfort, a shade between two unknowns.




Holding the Sun


It’s easy to hold the sun. Just wait until nightfall, or even cloud, or just a day when bad news falls like ashes from a brown envelope; a morning when you wake to cold sheets and a familiar scent, fading; an evening when you wait hours for the delayed train that brings no-one; the moment when throwing away the stale breakfast cereal is the hardest decision you’ve ever made. Then, all you need to do is reach and pluck it from its painted sky; but remember to wear thick gloves so your fingers don’t freeze.






It began with a typo — the accent of Everest — but now she feels obliged to speak in snow-capped stone, too vast for her lovers to comprehend. Even her intake of breath is heroic Reich propaganda, eroded by eighty years into numinous homo-eroticism, where two fresh-faced muscular youths fear to stop climbing, lest they fall to uncontrollable humping in a bivvy bag, oblivious to the blonde-plaited Grail-Maiden descending from a dazzling sunset. And when she breathes out, there’s Tom Cruise, arcing into oblivion like a goat on a bungee, rescuing all of the aforementioned from Romantic transcendence, the Sublime, and, where applicable, the burning shame of unmanliness. In her shadow, I’m an overweight miner celebrity, resuscitating my airless fame for unspecified charities, shovel in hand, digging deep into the mountain’s roots.








Oz Hardwick is a writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician, based in York (UK).  His work has been published and performed internationally in and on diverse media: books, journals, record covers, programmes, fabric, with music, with film, and with nothing but a slightly nervous voice.  He has published six poetry collections, most recently The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (ValleyPress, 2017).  Oz is also Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University.  Oz Hardwick is online at