Because there is a word we must not say,
of course we hear it everywhere.
The dog left in a cold yard sings it.
Unanswered phones in locked houses
are desperate to utter it, newsreaders
with currency updates breathe it
between yen and dollar. Like many so
afflicted I pace the bare boards
of my room and listen to the voice
inside my skull intone it as a litany.
A bit of me is tempted to come out with it,
since none would hear and it would be
a weight off my tongue, but when I open
my window the world rushes in:
moon-lust, elm-smoke, sirens, everything.
Michael Symmons Roberts recently won the Forward Prize for Poetry for his collection “Drysalter” (Jonathan Cape, £12), from which this poem is taken