Ian Harrow


Contact Ian: ianharrow1@gmail.com





I recognise but no longer comprehend

the interest strangers take in the bodies

of strangers who are like themselves.


Mine was the life of the body and because

the body was strong, I was bored by doubt;

ignorant as only the robust can be.


For years I thought I saw people as they were

when all I was doing was reading

in a face the impression I made.


What did I know of a world

where you learn something new

from dizziness or a pillow dark with sweat


or just feeling not quite right

at 3 a.m. in the kitchen, gripping

a glass of water with both hands?






If it would not entail

a further falling in love,

I’d write to you again.

Instead, I drive as far

as it takes, before I can

drive back, because it’s dark

or as dark as early summer

evenings allow.


All this, to put to bed

a love and loss that’s wrong

for us – wrong for the time –

with its genius for the same

or something like:

proxy, clone, replacement,

substitute. You’ll find

another me – just look.





And finally you, his lover/partner/spouse,

will grasp, too late, the essence of his technique:

to build a slender volume from a grouse

against love, his mum, that literary clique –

when all else fails, himself – just what a louse

he really is – a faithless, petty, sneak –

and the best thing you can do for him is go

because absence makes those creative juices flow.





I wish I didn’t wonder

how they were, together.

They  weren’t  together long

and they did nothing wrong,

so why is it that I wonder

how they were, together?


I know the details well;

There’s nothing much to tell;

no need to work out why

they gave the thing a try –

so why is it, I wonder

how they were together?


What they did then said.

What they said then did.

It’s more a matter of

chronology than love

that I wonder how they were,

together, him and her.





Cars climb the hill and stare at the sign

before the long descent.

Silhouettes, moving or still,

in cubes of yellow or blue light,

show what feeling at home looks like.

A woman working after dark


leans a coloured print

against the gallery wall

as the last, lone, nuisance

of a skateboarder

nods at this shadow of a man.

A conversation cycles out of town.


Tonight, the missing can be seen, almost.

Null and void is in season.

Traffic-lights fire blanks across the street;

the train-announcement reaches

north towards the river,

there to die as angled snow.





I look down

and as I see it,

make the city mine

since here I am

entirely unknown.


Rain, like fragile

common sense,

from a baleful sky;


trees in the park beyond.


Chalked on a wall

by the station:

Upgrade yourself –

give up work.

In the tram-window


reflection, a woman

stares through tears

at her phone;

her scented hand

settles on the rail


an inch or two

from my head

until, seeing its owner

about to leave

it takes flight and is gone.


When you have to say out loud

who and what you are,

it’s stories you’ve not heard

or same old story

told by someone else.





Words take me from where I am.

Someone I’ll never know

has unlocked the door of a house

surrounded by trees then wilderness

and painted the colour of the sea.

The fire is lit and one I’ll never meet

has left out food and drink

and a note on the windowsill that reads

Stay here for as long as you like.