Peter Cash: LOCATIONS (2021)


In 1967, Norman Hidden (1913-2006) launched WORKSHOP: New Poetry. It was in Issue No 13 (October 1971) that Peter Cash’s first published poem House appeared beside poems by W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn. In 1978, The Poetry Society launched The National Poetry Competition in which Peter Cash won a prize with The Widow in 1982.

During that period, both poetry magazines (many home-printed on the primitive technology of the day) and poetry competitions (most then charging small entry fees) proliferated. For forty years, it therefore became a preoccupation for poets to write not only with a view to magazine publication, but also in hope of a prestigious prize-win.

At the same time, poets continued to write poems for less ambitious, more modest purposes: not least to ascribe a value to a particular place in time and, in R. S. Thomas’ words, “make the glimpsed good place permanent”. Consequently, the ‘locations’ described in Peter Cash’s tenth collection of poems are the settings for those minor experiences in a poet’s life. They are the sites of thoughts which either stayed with him or came back to him and which he did not wish to lose …

On the Boundary
Barbados 1986

We live among palm-trees; they landscape
each cricket-ground to which our Mokes convey us
in convoy. Daily, we wave at wood shacks:
out of their windows, uninquisitive eyeballs gape
        at a coral sea.
Emaciated sheep graze. We
quaff Banks’ beer

but cannot think for the heat.
Each and every night, even if it thunder-storms,
we copulate instead; our sweat
sounds like a sun-tan oil. Match
analyses – Jock’s over, Nooky’s innings
(‘He never gave a chance’) –
wait for the return of mornings

when we make outroads
on the West Coast. In Bridgetown, on the bridge itself,
a blinded amputee approaches us implicitly.
We’re offered taxis, hassled
into motion by an incoherent talking …
The image starves description:
except that he
both had no leg and could not see

that two English kept walking.
From Broad Street, Nelson mocks
his paraplegic stance.
Up odoured alleyways, traffic (of all kinds) sniggers;
beneath more public awnings,
they sell mangoes. On the boundary,
among bricks and brown sheep, we laugh
at bowling figures.

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