I’d been tired, under
the weather, but the ansaphone kept screaming.
One more sick-note. mister, and you’re finished. Fired.
I thumbed a lift to where the car was parked.
A Vauxhall Astra. It was hired.
I picked him up in Leeds.
He was following the sun to west from east
with just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed. The truth,
he said, was blowin’ in the wind,
or round the next bend.
(This references the folk-rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, perhaps one of the most influential poet of the 20th century. The first of Dylan’s songs to really bring him to public attention was “Blowin’ In The Wind”, a #2 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary.)
I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate -once
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face -and didn’t even swerve.
I dropped it into third
and leant across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
We were the same age, give or take a week.
He’d said he liked the breeze
to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there.
About Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire, England in 1963. He earned a BA from Portsmouth University in geography, and an MS in social work from Manchester University, where he studied the impact of televised violence on young offenders. He worked as a probation officer for six years before focusing on poetry. In 2015, he was elected Oxford Professor of Poetry.
Known for his deadpan delivery, Armitage’s formally assured, often darkly comic poetry is influenced by the work of Ted Hughes, W.H. Auden, and Philip Larkin. As a reviewer for the PoetryArchive.org observed, “With his acute eye for modern life, Armitage is an updated version of Wordsworth’s ‘man talking to men.’” Read the rest here.