The Last Words of the Love-Sick Time Machine Pilot

And would you ever know if I had
snatched the keys from under the mat,
and unlocked the nucleus of our parents’ old Astra
with its quarks of petrol and spent Silk Cut packs

and taken my younger self for a spin
past the shutters lit blue from within –
the freezer light of Kennedy’s fishmonger’s
not Frankenstein’s lab after all – sorry,

and told you, Donny, this one’s important:
do what you were going to do and ask Susie Whitlow
on a date— yes, like last Wednesday when you tried
at Latchmere slides, feeling doubly sick from the height 

and your nerves on the ladder to the diving board –
I shouldn’t remind you – but in ten years’ time,
over a bottle of wine, she’ll tell you she’s got
a new boyfriend, whose name, you joke, sounds

like a make of saucepan, which isn’t so funny
for you, so much as a blow but sometimes
a little hurt is worth a heartful – like baking
with Dad while nursing a broken foot

from that casserole dish you failed to lift,
and don’t leave for Dover without matches,
and put a couple more quid on Little Polveir
at the Grand National this year, but still  

slip the winnings into the lining of Mum’s Dorla purse
like you were planning and when pulling up home again
I say, this is my last visit, I’m restoring the timeline,
so you should go and tip-toe inside and pause for a beat  

on the third stair, and when the past’s within walking distance
try not to startle all three of your selves on the landing,
or you’ll wake everyone up and we won’t make it,
and Mum wants answers and Dad gets sick 

and don’t recall our talk to anyone,
over time it will blur, and merge;
let’s call me the best of a good conscience
and say these things, and only these things

meaning when you test the Tipler core in Culham
after the press conference, you keep curious,
stride into the temporal displacement unit,
feeling in your atoms you might never know?

by Harry Man

This is the second of a special trio of poems being posted this week by writers who are featuring in one of the two Poetry Centre events in the upcoming Oxford Literary Festival. Harry Man will be reading alongside Sarah Hesketh and Claire Trévien on Tuesday 5 April at 4pm, whilst Helen Mort and Alan Buckley will be performing their poetry show ‘The Body Beautiful’ on Sunday 3 April at 2pm. We hope to see you there!

‘The Last Words of the Love-Sick Time Machine Pilot’ is copyright © Harry Man, 2013. It is reprinted from Lift (Tall Lighthouse, 2013).

Harry Man was born in Buckinghamshire in 1982. He won the 2014 Struga Poetry Evenings UNESCO Bridges of Struga Award, and his pamphlet, Lift, was shortlisted for the ‘Best Pamphlet’ in the 2014 Saboteur Awards. Harry has taught Creative Writing workshops in a wide-range of settings. His poetry has appeared in many publications, including New Welsh ReviewFuselitPoems in the Waiting RoomAnd Other Poems, as well as in Anthologies such as Coin Opera 2 and Rewiring History.

Harry has collaborated with the dancer & choreographer Jennifer Essex on a production for the London College of Fashion, with Kirsten Irving for ‘Auld Enemies’ curated by SJ Fowler, and with illustrator Sophie Gainsley on Finders Keepers, which examines Britain’s disappearing wildlife. Harry also narrates children’s books for HarperAudio and was selected to be the voice of many of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s books. In 2016, Harry was Poet-in-Residence at the StAnza Poetry Festival. Harry Man’s first pamphlet of poems, Lift (2013) is published by Tall Lighthouse in English and by Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonian. You can read more about Harry on his website, more about Lift on the Tall Lighthouse site, and follow Harry on Twitter.

Tall Lighthouse is an independent publishing house in the UK, established in 1999 by Les Robinson. It publishes full collections of poetry as well as pamphlets, and has featured work by Maurice Riordan, Hugo Williams, Daljit Nagra, Helen Mort, Roddy Lumsden, and Sarah Howe, amongst others. The press has established itself as a leading light on the small press poetry scene, and its pamphlet publications have received the Poetry Book Society‘s Pamphlet Choice Award on a number of occasions. The current Director and Editor of the press is Gareth Lewis, who took over after Les Robinson stepped down from those roles in 2011. You can read more about the publisher on its website.

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.