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Martyn Crucefix



Won a major Eric Gregory award in 1984.

A programme featuring his work - recorded live at the Voice Box, Festival Hall, London - was broadcast in the New Voices series on BBC Radio Three in May 1989.

Won a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1991.

Was placed second in the 1991 Arvon/Observer International Poetry Competition.

Was a runner-up in the Poetry Business Competition 1991.

Won the Oxford Poetry Holderlin Translation Competition, 1991. 

Won joint first prize in the Sheffield Thursday Poetry Competition, 1993, with the poem 'On Whistler Mountain'.

Runner-up in the Stand International Poetry Competition, 1998.

Won first prize in the Middlesex Full Circle Arts Project Competition, 1999.

Runner up in London Writers' Competition 2001

Information on Martyn Crucefix and books to order via Enitharmon Books at 

Books by Martyn Crucefix also available at 

Information on ShadoWork's collaborative writing and performance training at 

Article by Martyn Crucefix, 'Ten Steps to a Good Poetry Reading', in Poetry News, Winter 2001/2. See link 

Holderlin Translation Competition, 1991. See link at 

Teaching resources using the work of Martyn Crucefix at Teachit's English Teaching Resources at 

Martyn Crucefix, author information at Literature Online Select at 

Information on NAWE and Martyn Crucefix on the writers' and artists' database at 

Information about The Writers' Conferences at Winchester and lectures by Martyn Crucefix at 

Information on the Eric Gregory Trust Fund awards at 

Information about and publications from Commonground at 


On night's estate  |  Worse than it looks  |  This is it

On night's estate

This is the world as it will be in one hour,
if what I see is all that counts.
And as if it is, the longer I look,
the blacked-out expanses
grow more hard to stare into.

Unlike the United States, unsheathing
its gleaming Floridan sword,
its rash of yellow citidots.
The earth is on fire
south of the Great Lakes' blue pools.
Grows more black, but not empty,
out through standing
mid-west corn, block on starry block,
swept to the Pacific's violet edge.

There, shy Australia lies on display.
A single lemon necklace,
loose from Brisbane to Adelaide.
The monumental Asiatic blacks,
their spilt drops of gold
spattering Europe, where it grows
lighter from east to west.
The cobra-squirm of the Nile,
is a slithering focus to a blazing delta.

We are those who show ourselves
most clearly when we sleep.
We become like children,
sprawled, unconscious and equal
to the next lamplight.
The world in numerable parts.
Our dreams, a ferocious inequality,
as no-one lives in the Icelandic
inky black, the soot-back of Canada,
the Arctic, ebony of Antarctica,
the emptied Amazon basin,
the Russian steppes, Himalayan pitch.

Whatever life goes on there,
it keeps such a quiet light.
A few red sores of flaming oil-fields.
The indigo of burning forest
in the bulb of Brazil.
And across central Africa,
fat Africa is the body of dark
I hear cry out the kind of catastrophe
it must take to revive the night's wrap.
Let darkness fall as it now appears.
Beneath the close of twelve billion lids,
the monster is asleep and dreams of stars.

Worse than it looks

It's as if a car
were a cake of semtex,
a bundle of gelignite candles
to break open the bank,
the time-lock,
where it slews across
the central reservation,
bounding like a colt,
the wildness of youth
shaken out like hair
in a collapse of steel,
of crumple zones.
Her hands, pale jokes
slithering on the wheel,
till out of nothing,
that terrific shaking
father would always give her
before his big hands
did what they liked
and sailed right out
of her understanding
and under her clothes
sharpening his breath
with horrid concentration,
sinking to her shoulder.
As if twenty years
had never happened.
As if she'd not gunned away,
eyes fixed to the road
and kept going . . . going . . .

This is it

Stepping through two doors of the aviary,
he blurs behind close mesh.
I look up at him like a big tree.
The birds, tail-heavy
in the halo of their own wing-blur,
settle on arms,
shoulders, his grinning head.
They must tickle like snowflakes.

For years he drove freight trains.
I saw him one afternoon at Westbury Station,
leaning from the tiny
high cab window,
peaked cap on his baldness,
one hand visible,
pointing to the engine around him
as if to say
this is it, this is all of it.

Or did I dream that.
It hardly matters, learning at third-hand,
he's fallen from his bed,
suddenly finished,
knowing he will have expected
the kind of heaven I don't believe in,
though as distance
lays itself down between Bob and me,
I grow less sure of the great divide,
what I saw,
from what I might have seen.

Say, I watched him go,
step on blurring step
through the doors, hands quiet at his sides,
ready and waiting
for what I sometimes hear,
a whir of anxiousless wings,
perfectly clear.

(© Martyn Crucefix)


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