Two Poems by Rory Waterman


Driving Through the Pit Town

There’s not much round here now, you say,
just huddled brick or pebbledash terraces,
and tiny new-builds where the pitheads were.

Bare hills fly up beyond the town you left,
with clasps of scree, caps of sodden green,
pitched above the neat slate pitches

but your eyes stay on the road. The side streets jut
left and right, so many of them, like ribs.
You jab a finger: We lived up top of that one.

Then – surprise – a pale sun picks at a slit
in the paper sky. Yellow slaps down
momently, and slides along the valley,

and the half-a-pit-wheel trenched in the roundabout
shimmers, red as gut. We won’t stop here
and most of the shops (Kebabland, USA Nail’s,

Milan Fashions) are shut or boarded anyway.
The four lads pincering fags outside the Co-op,
gobbing and shoving, repulse for what they are.

It’s no use knowing better, more, you say.
And in blue spray paint, the back of the village sign
cries ‘DING DONG!!’. Like we’re waiting at a door.


Writ in Water

‘All discussion of what happened there was forbidden.’ Guardian, April 2013

He spent the best of three years at Camp Nama, then Balad,
though you and I and she mustn’t know what he did there.

And now they twist through Venezia in a gondola –
the gondolier’s ‘Brindisi’ smarts ruptured brick

and Alice, his Alice, is glad just to see him sit
for twenty minutes. She rolls her cold palm past his fist,

squeezes it like a gear stick momently
as they arc to a jetty; and back he shifts to himself.

Of course they can’t get through this. Of course she must meet
someone easy, away from this city of hearts

and masks, where both need both but can’t find either.
He wedges a note in the tip jar as he departs.

“Driving Through the Pit Town” first appeared in The Dark Horse

About the Author:

Rory Waterman is a British poet. His debut poetry collection, Tonight the Summer’s Over, was published by Carcanet in November 2013. It is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Prize 2014.