Stephen Ratcliffe – Poems from HUMAN / NATURE

Stephen Ratcliffe

Poems from HUMAN / NATURE


silhouette of song sparrow perched on fencepost below feeder

in left foreground, sunlit green oval of tobacco plant leaf

across from it, sweptback wingspan of jet passing overhead

man on left explaining “the moment an emotion or fact is

transformed into a photograph, is it no longer a fact”

man on right asking “did Picasso consider the paintings

finished when he had them photographed, and if he changed

his mind in one or two instances, then why”

                                               plane of high

thin white cloud reflected in the motionless grey plane below

point, gull standing on triangular orange tip of the GROIN sign


black-capped chickadee pecking up seeds from table in right

foreground, golden-crowned sparrow landing on tobacco plant

branch above it, grey-white fog in front of invisible ridge

man on left noting “the eye also distinguishes better the so-

called middle greys, which to photography are often flattened”

man across from him adding “‘white water is inconceivable, etc.’

means we cannot describe how something white would look, don’t

know what description these words demand of us”

                                                   white line

of jet trail slanting across cloudless blue sky above point,

blue-green shoulder of wave breaking to the right below it


yellow circle of sun below silhouette of black pine branch,

blue jay pecking seed from feeder across from it, sweptback

wingspan of jet passing overhead

                                    woman on phone explaining

“‘writer’ and ‘writing’ come from Anglo-Saxon word for ‘weave,’”

for example “the red gaze weaves in and out with morning light”

woman in black sweater asking “have you noticed how adjectives

have become ‘marginalized,’ I’m just waiting for the Buddhist

couple to arrive, corporate crooks are fucked”

                                                  sunlit line

of white cloud in pale blue sky above the ridge, oval green

mouth of wave breaking to the left across channel below it


pink line of jet trail moving across blue whiteness of sky

in left corner, right-sloping shoulder of still dark ridge

below it, sound of waves breaking in channel

                                                man on left

wanting to “demonstrate a gradual stepping up and down

between white and black, between lighter and darker”

Kandinsky recalling that “Van Gogh asked, in his

letters, whether he might not paint a white wall

dead white”

               white of spray blown back from wave

breaking across channel, whiteness of gulls moving

to the left across shadowed plane of ridge above it


sunlit edge of egg-shaped rock on rectangular white table

in left foreground, green of passion vine-covered fence

behind it, sweptback wingspan of jet passing overhead

Kandinsky noting “the whole triangle is moving slowly,

almost invisibly forwards and upwards”

                                          man on right

explaining “the spacing seems bound up with an effort

to alter the visual weight of the larger right-angled

triangle that had, at Sorgues, lorded it over the picture”

silver of low sun reflected in blue-grey plane, whiteness

of tern flapping across cloudless blue sky toward horizon

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