Paul Webb's

  Paul Webb's

The Balloon


Did
rubber-planters conspire
to extract a child’s smile
with this blue pear-shaped sac
inflated with human breath?

Or
does its smileless good humor
respond merely to a general instinct
for rotund pliant breath-filled things?

Yet
if you try to clasp it
it does not yield to the fingertips
with the same ease as other air pockets

but
reacts as if scalded
or scratched
and
we do likewise.

And
if you puncture it
it deflates in an instant
to a limp
and
valueless rag
like something whose spring
has snapped
the pinprick aggravated
to a gash by the eagerness
of the air to rush out of it.

And
the child wails on reflex
at this sudden shocking
inversion of worth.

Yet
if you try to keep it
—a memento
of a birthday party for example—
safe
in some corner of the room
it expires quietly
through the knotted nipple at its root
shrivels wrinkles depreciates
to a more richly rubbery-smelling
yet clearly inferior article
less inviting to touch
but less sensitive to it also.

                      *

A balloon
is something whose cheerfulness
is always tense and over-inflated
fated to explode or sag.

And
a happy face painted on it
appears first human
but
ridiculous
then
human
but morbid
for the wasted
and
stagnating effort
that once inspired it.

Loughborough, 1997

Falling


Falling, my dear
we are falling
all the time
not fallen
as is preached
or dropped
as is told
no
falling, all the time
my dear.

And when we fly
in a plane
we grow no wings
and the strain and the thrust
of the flight
cost us dear, my dear
and we do not descend
gracefully
to the runway
but just fall again
and run away.

and when we fly
briefly in love
or intoxication
we are no angels
just vague rememberers
of the beings that let us be.

Falling, my dear,
we are all falling,
in common, but out of tune
with all the things
that fall down and fall over
and drop out and drop in
and fall out and apart
over the years.
We are part
of that great confusion.

Falling like sleet or rain or tears
falling sometimes like meteorites
falling like the bricks of ancient temples
like the limbs of ancient gods
like the walls of citadels
like fruit, trees and seeds
falling
falling
falling

There is no wind to buoy us
ultimately up
there is no god to winch us up
ultimately out of this world
there is no safety-net to catch us
falling ultimately
there is no joy to be gleaned
in dropping to the hard ground
my dear
but much pleasure in the fleeting
falling.

                         *

My overweight mother once hitched a high-heel in the cobblestones outside the
shopping precinct and fell, suddenly, heavily onto the pavement; and, when passers-by
stopped to haul her up, bawled exactly the way babies do, for having been thrust so
unexpectedly close to the hard ground only infants know.

Recife, 2000

Meet Paul Webb


I was born in Trowbridge, UK in 1964 and would describe myself these days as a poet, translator, blogger, thinker, and teacher. I studied Latin, Greek, Ancient History and Philosophy at the University of Oxford, UK, and went on to graduate in Theology at the same institution. I hold a Master’s degree in Modern Languages from Oxford Brookes University and a doctorate in Sociology from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil.  I have spent most of my life working as a translator, teacher and teacher-trainer, but have recently been devoting myself mostly to creative writing and translation.

I have been writing and studying poetry as a hobby, since I was sixteen. But I have only been producing work that I consider mature enough to be worth keeping, in a series of stops and starts, sometimes with long hiatuses, since 1989.
My early mature work drew heavily on French prose poets, but after moving to Brazil in 1995, I became interested in and influenced by Brazilian poetry too. As a teacher of English, I also began to acquire greater knowledge and appreciation of verse in my native tongue. Since 2003, my poetry has become increasingly influenced by punk and rap rhythms and begun to address more political themes and employ a chorus of different voices.

After a serious illness in 2012, which resulted in the amputation of my left leg and retirement from the teaching profession, I started writing more regularly and revising my previous work and, since 2014, have been regularly posting poems and articles on my blog:                                            https://oudeis2005.wordpress.com/.
My email address is oudeis2005@gmail.com

Short Cut


So many streets of the future
cut short by a future
that caught up with them;
urban hernias
littered with broken dreams;
avenues reduced to back-alleys.
Clothes hanging out from run-down,
not so high-rise apartment-blocks
empty into grime-shaded scraps of street.

Nappies, tea-towels, knickers and
recycled tampons flap,
hung out to dry, & keep pace
with the flow of waste paper & plastic bags
stirred from time to time by wind,
till swept out by floods.

This is not the kind of place
people come to;
it is more where people end up.

Everything is forever
on the blink
& the only thing that is
upwardly mobile
is damp

Recife 2010


Summer Winter


Here
there are no seasons
life is precious and cheap

the shrub has no sap
most of the dry year
the twigs of a million crucifixes
against the blue and brown and sun

a drop revivifies

death waiting
patient
for occasional life
l
ife a sliver of a thing

the juazeiro’s
green fleece
prevailing
like a local god
over this dearth of life.

Everything is not water.

Recife, 1999
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