Three Poems by Robert Ford


Exit strategy

Ahead, the muscular arms of the valley
threaten to close over, hack the daylight,
impose a night sky cleansed of stars.
I poured myself, and everything I think of
as everything, into the back of the car,
leaving more space than when I began,

yet still I’m weighted down, by a tombstone
on my shoulder, a last supper of cold soil
digesting inside. The road begins to climb.

I stumble along at the speed of darkness.
Behind me, you and someone’s army are
pasting my likeness onto every blank wall.

Your second head

is wearing the crown now. Once it has legs,
it will probably start wearing trousers.
This could be funny. It really isn’t.
Those two egg-white eyes follow me
around the room, pinning laser-guided
judgements everywhere like donkey-tails,
while yours slink away under pillowed lids,
pretending not to notice, secretly terrorised.
It’s growing a beard now, to cover up
its rodent chin, and will soon start
wanting your mouth to place at its centre,
the cherry on its imperialist cake.
One day, defeated, you’ll hand it over,
and I won’t blame you in the slightest.

Nothing much at all

Out on the rotting deck –
in that unrehearsed collection
of half-barrels, steel buckets
and terracotta pots –
all your flowers are surrendering.
Heads crumple like regret,
colours leaching into sepia,
leaves and stems cigarette grey.
Only one hi-vis marigold
proudly refuses to succumb.
It’s nothing much at all,
an asterisk, a subscript
somewhere on another page,
but I feel compelled to mention it,
to spell it out in words,
devote breath to it.
Anything to cast a
stone into the silence,
create the tiniest ripple in
this heavy ocean between us.

Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including The Interpreter’s House, Dime Show Review, Butcher’s Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at

1 thought on “Three Poems by Robert Ford”

  1. […] I’m very pleased to have three of my poems featuring at Soft Cartel just now (and I particularly like this image they’ve used to accompany them. How soon can I move to Pie Town?). You can find “Exit strategy”, “Your second head” and “Nothing much at … […]


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