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24 December 2016updated 09 Sep 2021 2:52pm

The NS Poem: Gravity

A new poem by Simon Armitage.

By Simon Armitage

October on Earth
      and distinctly autumnal,
the goldfish bowl
           of the sixth-form common room,
an hour’s lull
           in the space-time continuum

between double physics
           and English literature,
a radio oozing
with American soft-rock
           and easy listening,

a blurred ruckus
           of alpha males
working line-out drills
           and rolling mauls
with a Hallowe’en pumpkin,
           meeker souls

in tight constellations,
           some brown-nosing
through Isaac Newton
           or Robert Browning,
some Rubik’s-cubing
           or grooming and braiding,

some lost in the coma
           of late revision.
As Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara”
           looped the horizon
(the six-minute-plus
           album version)

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the school trickster
           and first-choice scrum-half
plunged the volume slider
           from seven to nought
on the cusp of the line:
           “You’re the poet in my heart”.

And the airspace that followed
           was instantly baubled
with orbs and globes
           from the mouths of angels
and an outed choirboy’s
           helium bubbles,
till the heavens ballooned
           with unworldly apples.

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Simon Armitage is Professor of Poetry at Oxford. His latest book, a translation of Pearl, is published by Faber & Faber.

This article appears in the 13 Dec 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2016