Contemporary Poets: 19: Craig Raine

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The Independent Culture
Born in Co Durham in 1944, Craig Raine is best known for his collection A Martian Sends a Postcard Home, which inspired a school of Martian imitators - poets of 'innocent', metaphorically rich vision. His last full-length book of poems was Rich (1984); he has also published a libretto,

The Electrification of the Soviet Union, and a volume of essays. Formerly poetry editor at Faber, he is now a Fellow in English at New College, Oxford.

DEATH BED

Last things

only three last things

only three live on

a mind

which is carefully losing its mind

reiterates

who wrote Alice in Wonderland

and the answer fades

as the question forms

and the answer fades

then water from Aladdin's lamp

this feeding cup for invalids

then khaki from the catheter

then khaki from the catheter

the pulse a scratch

a scratch

whistling like a dynamo

this one wide-open nostril

thought on its thermal

drifts

watching

unseeing

we consider the cog in snowflakes

the squirrel's strobe effect

the famous caught by cameras

facing arrow flights at Agincourt

unlike these finger joints

we photograph phalanges

a joiner's bit of beading

set aside for further use

thrift

thrift and this ache

brought back to the bedside

by hearing the wail of wood

prised off an empty packing case

one eye open

breathing has come to a close

brought back

to our twisted faces

as if our mouths held something horrible

trying not to cry

and then

the soul brushed past

like a wind taking its time

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