What happens when the news gets into your dreams and unravels the work of the day? When you feel homesick, especially when you are at home? What happens when the future tracks you down and corners you? Who blinks first? The Infinite Town is a painful – and playful – mapping of public spaces and private places under assault. Exploring history, home, hurt, and hope in four interconnected sequences, Robinson’s search for the infinite possibilities of the everyday, of empathy and solidarity, leads to his most intricately structured and musical collection yet.
Cover image: Buffalo
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A slice of future Has tracked us down The river’s freshness The afterflash of fireworked skies These stones listen To the infinite town In the rasp of morning The slow breath of dusk A hope That now and here May be somewhere to settle And train ourselves to dream
are folding themselves into the corners of their silences. They gaze from clifftops while no one watches them, contemplate the sea’s due care. They hold their breath. They are in the middle of the flyover, seemingly stuck, but not really, not really, they just bide their time, do not look into the lorries, want the driver’s catastrophe to be random. In the shadow of the questions that never came, the broken branches the dog walkers will find, they lay down their burdens, they weigh down those things that must be weighed down before they are lost. They head gracefully towards the shush of the splash, somewhere quiet, where the moment is whole. They dream their way onto the tracks, walk the parallel lines which meet only at the vanishing point. You could easily miss them, not suppose they were ever there, be unsure what it was you saw, not believe the size of the crowds that welcome them as they arrive, as they disappear.
Known only to the crane, the drone and the pilot hunting a soft landing right by its furthest reach, a place never touched or left alone, further and dustier than a star, every rainbow is secretly a circle, were we far enough away to see. The bow from which the arrow flies, that joins the dots and worlds and bridges night and day, ourselves and those we’ve yet to join, is one step from perfect, always bending towards something better, were we far enough away to see. The long arc is slow but makes rain stop. We cannot touch the possibilities, each star already cracked to let life in, its blues and golds and greens dimmed to orange then red to cool colour into tonight, and tomorrow, were we far enough away to see. Where the rainbow ends the land forms. Villages, towns, cities, worlds grow, families, gangs, bands and fellowships, all the polyphonic shapes of identity assume their place in the dance, to shift from flat earth’s rhythm, were we far enough away to see. Your night’s colours overlap mine, even as we stand side by side. They shift with the angle of our tears, the way the moonlight bounces off the ghosts in the curves of our faces, and their gestures, their waves, were we far enough away to see. This year the rainbows twinned in glory triplet branches into every corner, set muted hues to hunt in shadows till we can bear to look no longer. And then the moon comes out, fresh as milk, as snow on a bin-lid, were we far enough away to see. And all the colours are a little harder to pin down as they stream towards us, a rainbow caught only with luck, bright, bold, playful, nameless and full of what the naked eye knows only as love, falling at the right angle, to a backdrop of rain, when we are far enough away to see. 2021
Cities in their waking slant sunshine into doorways, bridge breakfast over morning into work. Heartbreak finds its level, then silence. Shadows on shop-fronts spill coffee into mortar. Harsh-vowelled moments tie bows into brows, co-accused and their mams smoking straight stories bent. Clouds make a little dance above it all.
Mandalas of dead crabs bloom on the sands to sign off unspoken deals, the grift and graft of two hundred years burning to an end. What was found in the earth dissolved, settled to sludge, slept unseen, waited. We cut it, dredged what was, when all’s said, ours. The eels came first, a dead shine we knew was not natural, inevitable or whole. The auger pushed us into tomorrow. Footsteps on the beach we must all approach: a Crusoe’s trail hidden in fret and fear, lawyers’ threats and official silence. Flags warn you off the darkening water. The breakers fill with stolen wealth, stones glittering now but dull as clay at home. The turbines wave and watch and are not heeded. We live by the comings and goings of such long-term contracts as the sea will hold.
‘One of the astonishing things Robinson continually does is make music out of political and social concerns and observation.’
Rupert Loydell, Stride
‘His poems speak of the best of England, its industrious past, its still untapped potential, and the dreams of its people, with clear-eyed honesty, compassion, and wonder.’
Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud
‘Clear-eyed and rooted in reality and with a finely honed sense of social justice and sparky wit.’