“watching us till the storms / we crave burl and wrap us”

The Oxford-based Clutag Press have been publishing poetry pamphlets in limited editions for a couple of years now, notably a pre-District and Circle Seamus Heaney collection Shiver which I was fortunate enough to get hold of. And I’m hoping to be fortunate again with the latest pamphlet, a collection of five poems in a limited edition of 250 copies, The Camouflage School by Tom Paulin – “Part of his continuing ‘loose-leaf’ epic of the Second World War, begun in 2002 with The Invasion Handbook“. Tom Paulin can be heard reading some of his earlier work at the Poetry Archive and there’s a 2002 Guardian profile where he says of The Invasion Handbook

“I suppose it is my version from my provincial heart of ‘how do you make peace after war?’.

Adds Token Dissent’s comment, below, reminded me of another Tom Paulin poem from 2000

David Trimble, sketched

His face more head than face
as if straitlaced he’s wearing
a permanent hard hat
except for men in blue suits
a hard hat is an item
of temporary headgear
and a bluesuited man with such
a bakelite hat he
looks always slightly daft
– anxious ill at ease
not much swearing
and somewhere deep down in a tremble
unlike a man in a donkey jacket
or vest – a man
who’s not just visiting the site
but is part of the mess
the whole works all that shite
– he knows how to hack it
as here and now we wait
for more deadlines more dates
and that access of authority
which every site foreman
has got to possess
– I see mud pallets of breezeblocks
and bricks wrapped in stretched cellophane
stacks upon stacks upon stacks
above them a longlegged crane
(not a fly)
that might just stumble

© Tom Paulin 2000