Preparations for a Journey by Gavin Haycock at

Preparations For A Journey

Preparations for a Journey

written by: Gavin Haycock



scribbled notes in my breast pocket
they came at dawn and stayed
getting in gear to get away
ready to be blown along distant shores by chance
I pulled up by the library, a hit-and-run dash for new words and songs
to see what might lie waiting to be known
the force through the fuse as it were
at the counter I asked in that off-key way
everyone asks questions in a library
“Where are the American poets, like Frank O’Hara?”
the guy with a name badge on a silver-beaded necklace
charcoal sack of black hair and steel-rimmed glasses
barely shifted his gaze from the screen
nodded towards British poetry
bookended by American literature and British plays
a special relationship
a living cemetery of trans-Atlantic
writers and poets who can never die
“We have him.”
he wrote down a line of code on a scrap of paper
“You’ll find him here.”
librarians are like tax collectors
they find people through numbers
I find Frank by his name
pulling his spine from the whispering crowds
a mass of words from another time
all opining about love, longing and loss
or something that caught the eye
over lunch
the fear of death, the death of fear
and oranges, cigarettes, artists, New York, the metro and having a coke
meditations for many an emergency
now I see and taste his naked words, make them my own
he says:
“I don’t believe in god
so I don’t have to make
elaborately sounded structures.
I don’t even like rhythm,
assonance, all that stuff.
You just go on your nerve.”
and then
on the way towards light
broken hardbacks, paperbacks, hand-me-backs
all softened from fingers, light and time
all for sale
tales of Riviera journeys from Marseilles to Leghorn
published in 1913 when steamers ran along the coastline
narcotica, erotica, a cultural history of intoxication
and anthology of New York poets
in among these wordy weeds
nothing goes for more than a couple of dollars
on the cover is an author’s writing room
walls of books, a desktop of unfinished words
rough-hewn paintings, skyscraper windows
sunlight shafts on polished floorboards
brash, bold brushstrokes on cards and boxes declaring
“Poetry room, have a seat read a book.”
pages carrying the scent of a thousand lost afternoons
like a warm flat-backed stone sleeping in the hand
before being flung into the face of an incoming wave.

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