Next to Nothing

Through a watery light of after-rain
this bed, its personal history,
brought back by container ship from Japan
shows in ruffled covers
lines that say love spent the night here,
its indentations, your body’s traces.

This commonplace bed with everyday sheets,
its rumples and creases
caused by the nightmare disturbances,
forms a tableau of shadowy folds
where by contrast time
tries to recover us, in all senses.

Yet still this unmade double bed
while you are away
preserves outlines where your body lay,
reminding me what lovers
do in their proximity
although I’m next to nothing now.

by Peter Robinson

Are you a Brookes member of staff or student? Do you have a favourite poem? The Poetry Centre invites you to share your love of poetry with the community in our exciting new project for National Poetry Day. If chosen to participate, you will be filmed reading your favourite poem and sharing why it is memorable to you. Filming will take place in September 2014 and videos will be posted to the Poetry Centre website via the Oxford Brookes YouTube channel for National Poetry Day on 2 October. If you wish to participate, all you need to do is send an e-mail to including your name, your role at Brookes (student or member of staff), the title and author of your favourite poem, and a brief description of the poem’s significance to you, by this Friday 16 May, 2014. No original poems, please!

On Monday 26 May, join an impressive line-up of writers (Lydia Mcpherson, Ian House, Brookes PhD candidate Jennifer Wong, Alyson Hallett, Barbara Marsh, Victoria Field, Jackie Wills, and special guest Louis de Bernières) at a special Coffeehouse Poetry reading. The event, which takes place from 8-10 pm, is hosted by Anne-Marie Fyfe at the Troubadour Cafe, 263-267 Old Brompton Road, Earl’s Court, London SW5 9JA. Tickets are £8 (£7 concs). For more details, visit the Coffee House Poetry website.

‘Next to Nothing’ is copyright © Peter Robinson, 2013. It is reprinted from Like the Living End (Worple Press, 2013) by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

Peter Robinson was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1953, and grew up mainly in Liverpool. His many volumes of poetry include a Selected Poems (2003), Ghost Characters (2006), and The Look of Goodbye (2008). He was awarded the Cheltenham Prize for This Other Life (1988). Both The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems (2002) and The Returning Sky (2012) were recommendations of the Poetry Book Society. A translator of poetry, mainly from the Italian, The Selected Poetry and Prose of Vittorio Sereni (with Marcus Perryman) appeared in 2006 and paperback in 2013. He received the John Florio Prize for The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (2007) in 2008. Other publications include his aphorisms, Spirits of the Stair (2009), four volumes of literary criticism, the most recent being Poetry & Translation: The Art of the Impossible (2010), various edited collections and anthologies, such as The Complete Poems, Translations & Selected Prose of Bernard Spencer (2011) and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (2013). A collection of essays on his work, The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson, edited by Adam Piette and Katy Price, appeared in 2007. The poetry editor for Two Rivers Press, he is Professor of English and American Literature, and currently Head of Department, at the University of Reading. You can read more about the book on Worple’s dedicated page, and visit Peter Robinson’s own website.

Worple Press was founded by Peter and Amanda Carpenter in 1997. Since then they have published a wide range of authors, including Iain Sinclair, Joseph Woods, Elizabeth Cook, Beverley Bie Brahic, Clive Wilmer and Kevin Jackson. They published the selected poems of the acclaimed American nature poet Peter Kane Dufault for the first time in the UK (Looking in All Directions); this was followed in 2007 by Kane Dufault’s To be in the same world. Peter Robinson’s The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems was the Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation for Spring 2002. This impressive backlist was augmented in 2012 by three significant titles: Passio: Fourteen Poems by Janos Pilinszky from Clive Wilmer and George Gomori; Riddance by Anthony Wilson; and the republication of William Hayward’s cult novel from 1964, It Never Gets Dark All Night. Over 2013 and 2014 new titles have included work from John Greening, Michael McKimm, Peter Robinson, Mary Woodward and Sally Flint. More information can be found on Worple Press’s websiteFacebook page, and Twitter feed, and you can sign up for Worple’s mailing list by e-mailing:

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.