Thursday, 16 July 2020

Comets NEOWISE and McNaught

Last weekend, as I was going to bed, I noticed a very bright light in the northern sky, not that far above the horizon. I stupidly assumed it was Venus or Jupiter, and that it was looking slightly blurred through the glass, so I didn't take a closer look with binoculars (you can sometimes pick out the main moons of Jupiter with a decent pair of bins).

Next day, I saw all sorts of things on Twitter that made it clear that it had been Comet NEOWISE. And of course, since then, there hasn't been a clear night to have another look, although it should be visible until around the end of the month.

It reminded me of Comet McNaught, from 2007 (also sometimes called the Great Comet of 2007), which was bright and pretty spectacular. It inspired a poem (in as much as a poem is ever inspired by one thing) that appeared in my first collection, Troy Town, which was published by Arrowhead Press in 2008. Here it is:


That spray of light on the western horizon
this last fortnight is a comet. All the papers say so now.
The best of it was believing it was our discovery

but it seems a scientist at an Australian observatory
has been tracking its orbit for months. Yesterday, late,
as I walked back the long way round, the way I haven't

walked in years, I watched a single cloud
swallow half the heavens whole, but this morning
– oh my sungrazer, my hyperbola, my single apparition –

it was only the hills the stars have always hid behind.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Summer's here

So, its been a long time. What can I say? The whole Covid-19 lockdown situation has dominated everything for the past few months, and Polyolbion has had to take a back seat. But here I am again. It's July, and summer's here, sort of.

Those nice people at Candlestick Press have a new pamphlet, Ten Poems for Summer, for anyone in need of a bit of literary sustenance. It also, like all Candlestick's pamphlets, makes a nice alternative to a greetings card.

Of course, it's a pretty strange summer, and not just in terms of weather. There's been no cricket, for a start, although that will change next week, when England start to play a test series against the West Indies behind closed doors.

But while I was at the Candlestick website, I was reminded that among their other fine titles, they have Ten Poems about Cricket, which includes my own poem Two Orthodox Left-Armers. If you're missing the sound of leather on willow, you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy.