As if he could fold

fish from the air:

silver quick magnets,

broad sluggards of slate.


As if he could

set them swimming on the wind

barely spinning their waters


churning motes in a moiré.


I had wanted to be

that liquid magician;

jokes fretting at his fingertips;

skulking in his cuffs: white,



But his hat slewed over my eyes:

tobacco reek in its brim;

split lining spilling

blood and a stuff like feathers.


As if, netting a stickleback

in the brook below my school

it dreamed itself into a book

or unfolded into

the drape of cut swans

that had been waiting in my scissors




4 Responses to “Conjuror’s hat”

  1. Sue Featherstone Says:

    The description of the magician’s hat is very evocative.

  2. lou wilford Says:

    I think the opening is lovely – attention-grabbing and beatiful. Don’t know what ‘moire’ is. I like the combination of ‘prettiness’ and a blacker undercurrent.

  3. noelwilliams Says:

    Glad you both liked this. I’m still not certain about it – one of those poems I change every time I look at it. However, I do like the opening, too.

    “Moiré” (only just figured out how to get the acute accent there) is a pattern of interference you get when two identical grids are laid over each other, so the idea here is ripples passing across each other to make a more complex pattern

  4. Tom Rice-Oxley Says:

    As always with your poetry, language you could eat with a spoon. Stunning. In terms of meaning, the last verse is a bit opaque for me at the moment; I suspect it holds the key to the whole poem and would be keen for a hint…..

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