Joseph Minden

Joseph Minden


Starting on Monday
and then Tuesday
we see nothing. A father
and son look up as we enter
their Hailsham shop.
A smile.                                       
The pasty light                             
of a fishing lantern.                      
We take that for the van.              
A mile or a half-mile                    
further on, we stop                      
to have our picnic                        
in the lee of a pylon           

and in view of the cattle.              
Past Battle,                                            
the road is the flat of a golden      
sword laid on Wealden                 
going down gently and                 
still more down.                           
The light                                      
dulls at a roundabout,                  
a roundabout                               
at the edge of town:                     
Still nothing. No sand.       
Dungeness. Out                           

there, we meet the estate
manager, Owen. Straight
away: the wives sunbathing,
the husbands fishing,
the children off,
flinging shingle
through windows like light.
Cars, brink-
parked, sink  
into that same shingle
and I’m blamed. He pauses to cough.
I’m ignored.
And the mink

Next day,
among the dawns of gorse made honey
by the sun, the first
clue. A cursed
mink confronts
us, while
from Dungeness B,
strokes light
against the sky,
a pylon strides by.
Perhaps this man’s a dad. We
can only assume. Once
he’s gone he is still there. While

efforts fail like young men
flung from rigging off Singapore, Owen
had finished,
from the sea—or not—
and commemorated
in the cold
of regret, the desert flowers glow
unwitnessed. Well, blow
us down. An old,
grey gravestone shot
with rust at All Saints’ Lydd.
Some Joe

extinguished just like that             
and a primrose burning splat        
in the stone’s frame.                     
The name                                    
Northfleet, too,                              
a Blackwall frigate                                  
skewered by the Murillo,               
Dungeness light                           
ablaze to no end,               
too blind                                     
to witness the still, slow,               
frozen wave alive with clues         
go down in a spate   
of waves. Send

for help—there are
fathers and mothers spent here
uselessly. With the
of our eye, we seize
the pylon dashing past—
giant pilgrim,
source. Canterbury.
The road the flats of gladii
laid in slim
succession down centuries.
We have breakfast 
in sight of the heart of the see.               

In the mote-lit air,
flags dissolve. Spare
time bleeds over caught
time, time caught
in graffiti’s counterscript:
PBIG 1603, I Goings 1749
WT 1768
and, in light
lines, Sean + Julie 2001.
as now, the long drape
of stone, the crypt
the shrine
of each self undertends,

the abstract
agedness of the texture of a flat
life. The cathedral’s
purpled, redded,
rendered golden by
the freefall
of light
through incomprehensible
stories, the miracle
of Thomas Becket and the initial
LEGO brick, Eustace reunited
with his family
in a brazen bull

and, before that, watching lions
kidnap his sons,
straddling two shores,
a pylon. Scores 
of French kids flood
the Corona
but the martyrdom was corner-
born, out of the light,
where a body could be
riddled in its secrecy,
not openly destroyed before
as waterfalls of stone
and tall, blotchy

mouths of glass.
We see a shadow pass
behind the windows,
fast at first. It slows
to shade.
The sun
shines on,
points of light
catch the achievements
of the Black Prince,
gauntlets and so on, remade
for the long run.

go by.
a giant’s fistful
of shingle
bursts through the stained
panes, turning
a swathe of multicoloured
white. In volcanic fury,
we upheave from our TV.
children again,
their wretched family—

mum sunbathing,
dad fishing—
to excruciate
the good denizens of the estate.
But we only see, beyond
a sawtooth edge
of many-coloured glass,
a pylon in the light,
listing to port
like a Blackwall frigate,
spilling a glissando
of pebbles from its hand,
then hopping over the next hedge
to make good its get

away like a bad dad.
What remains? Low, strange childrens
of lichen
shifting in the drift,
vacant tourists
drifting across shingle
in the special light,
the estate manager, Owen, fed
up—he states simply: sods—
and a single
grief, like a ship’s whistle
in watercolour, mist-

JOSEPH MINDEN is a poet and secondary school teacher. His book-length poem Backlogues was released by Broken Sleep Books in 2023. Paddock calls: The Nightbook (slub press) and Poppy (Carcanet) came out in 2022.