5. A Recipe for a Seed Cake

for the memory of my father

Whose favourite cake this was, cuing
yet more stories of army life – just
2 types of cake allowed them, fly & sand
trapped in a real utopian dream
peaceably defending this island from excesses
corrosive & absolute, unlike pleasures
like just baking beautiful cake
an act of trust unfrantic as
what? the coming of blossoms – do it well
for here is what will help:
                            125 g self-raising flour
                            125 g caster sugar
                            125 g butter
                            3 medium eggs
                            1 tsp baking powder
                            2-3 tbsps ground almonds
                            ½-¾ tbsp caraway seeds

Hopeful to begin, cook it in a small loaf tin
buttered & floured (like some inconspicuous blossom here
with a length of greaseproof paper across the long axis
its ends 2 handles to grasp onto
put on then the oven at mark 4 (180º)
and suddenly mix!
                  cream the butter & the sugar
add the eggs, and the flour with all the rest
then beat into a homogeneous batter – yeah, yeah
it’s just that simple
                      (I don’t know my father’s recipe
but I guess this as what he learnt
from his grandmother who brought him up
some basic & memorable recipe
                              spoon it
into the tin & set in the oven for about 40 minutes
use your head & check carefully its progress
protect its tawny head from burning too much
& poke into it the oracular skewer
– you want it warm, moist & crumby
                                   not soggy
and then when it is blossoming – take it out
let it cool as it stands for, oh, 10-15 minutes
& lift out finally with the paper, exposed
like a sudden found piece of poetry
                                    trapped on the wire rack

A good cake for drinking with it good beer
or I thought so at the Oto
                          – tho’ not popular there
I make it now in due & inescapable filial piety
let it go on & be made by whoever so wishes
my grandson baby Neirin if so he decides
something is opened
                    let it carry on
                    if & thus it does

[The recipe is the typical Pound Cake1, using here Jane Grigson’s writing of it down. Another recipe gives more flour & more egg – but this cake seems fine, and fits with my father’s two types of army cake – fly cake, of course, made with dried fruit. And as I said, nothing is as good as this seed cake with a good English beer.]


 1 Old Ezra the Baker Poet, that’s a good myth

4. In the Absolute Creativity of Nothing, I Place My Trust

  F               E X C E S S E S
T R A P P E D         O         T         H
  A                   R                   O
  N                   R                   P
  T                   O       F O R   P O E T R Y
  I     B L O S S O M S       R           F
  C O M E             I   H E A D       S U D D E N L Y
        A             V       N           L       O
        U           R E J E C T               I N T O           B
C R E A T I V I T Y           I                     P           R
        I                     C O R R O S I V E   Y E A H,    Y E A H
        F                                           N   E       A
        U                     N O T H I N G             A   A S K
      P L E A S U R E         E                         D
      L                       S
      A B S O L U T E         S

3. Not a Poem Nor Not a Poem

Trapped? Aren’t we then underlying
this frantic small rumbling – oh
come off it now! Laughter
starting here, beautiful piss, white
blossoms – all OK, eternal and
corrosive. Everything fresh – again.
Nothing to reject. Animals die. We do.
There is nothing on order. A frantic grasp, a
head, a mess, won’t all these be that question?

For poetry permits photophobia & delusions.
It is this necessarily: hopeful and churning
bouncing so it grips. Suddenly singing
not damaged, it initiates problems re
petition into children, coral sometimes expressive
all open, sometimes the aesthetics of milk
yeah, yeah, our hearts will be trapped.
I did not call or break – light – fuck! – life
droning, fluffy, ask it if it arrives. It thanks, this time bites.

2. Out of Order I Said This (The Eternal Delusion)

on and now she just is I heard
everything will be lost to laughter
ok then act and reject cut off
your white hair

these small animals do it you’ve lost
the underlying question come mumbling in all now
that aren’t we trapped in familiar flesh again
I told her

starting again I won’t be here you said
as well this is such a mess a muck up
of beautiful red blossoms commemorating
we shall die

oh words bastard words won out
the frantic grasp high state of light
don’t they just piss you off like nothing
the eternal delusion

1. Man macht ein Gedicht

OK and now
everything that isn’t
will be lost
– so then?


2 puddings & the nut butter
– no reason not to eat
and don’t those children still need feeding?
all this white hair
– time to cut it off?


How we might begin to answer such questions
a lyric paradigm that beneath resides machinery
oh, this is a poem of duplicity
to keep trying that legacy of flesh

Sam Ladkin, “Problems for Lyric Poetry”, in edited Brian Purves & Sam Ladkin, Complicities: British Poetry 1945-2007 (Litteraria Pragensia, 2007), pp 281-284 (final quote citing Andrea Brady, “Displaces”)


Man raucht. Man befleckt sich. Man trinkt sich hinüber.
Man schläft. Man grinst in ein nacktes Gesicht.
Der Zahn der Zeit nagt zu langsam, mein Lieber!
Man raucht. Man geht kacken. Man macht ein Gedicht.

Bertold Brecht, “Über die Anstrengung”, Manual of Piety (Die Hauspostille) (translated Eric Bentley) (George Weidenfeld, 1991), p 98


repetitive always
as the doings of small animals


starting again in a late spring
– oh god! what escape
from this banal actuality of metaphor


fine & clear at last on may day
jazz trumpeting thru the high street
good day then to plant more poppies
perennial, sanguinary, disordered blossom


oh words
just words?
no never more
gnarly & basting
determined must overthrow
high status elites
they just piss