Four poems from Rishi Dastidar

Recently I posted a poem from Rishi taken from the Faber Academy anthology and I’m delighted to be able to publish a further four today. One is a version of a poem by Durs Grünbein whose work I first came across in translations by Michael Hofmann – a collection I can’t recommend highly enough. One to watch, this fella…


When I am as rich as Carnegie,
but lacking his pious exhortations,
I shall give you a bridge
made of snow and diamonds and onions,
all designed to echo the golden glow
as the sun sets on two cities, and us.

And what of it that I stole this dream
from an advert I saw?
Where else am I to find gifts for you?
A catalogue?


In every map is a kind of trance,
as a whisper that says geography
is destiny, no matter what you say.
Remember the bridges of Konigsberg,
it continues. That was an unsolvable
problem, and so is your desire to keep
moving, to lose yourself in whatever
new topography you can conjure
with the spin of a compass – as if
it’s a roulette wheel, rather than a
divining rod that keeps saying
he who changes the sky above
him without changing his soul
changes nothing.

Shipwreck champagne

Once the bloodless caravan has floated off,
buried shanties have uncoiled their last
memories, and your dreams are sunk, again,
by the looming metaphor that is the cold, cold her,
seven-eighths of which you couldn’t fathom
and on the bit you tried to cling to
you ran out of crampons and carabinas and gumption
and time – and the fact she refused to
be like the contented failing whale.
Console yourself as you drift down past
the seahorse paddocks into secret seas.
The shipwreck champagne is sweeter here
and won’t give you the bends.

The last hunt

(a version, after Durs Grünbein)

A man in Belgium has been shot, shot on his way
to a hunt, shot by his faithful dog. It’s a funny old world
said the newspaper; not the dog.

He, the man from Belgium, was sat in his people-carrier,
at the wheel, and sat on the back seat was his faithful dog
and his faithful gun, both unaware of each other.

Like they always did, they looked the same way
at the forest; he silently, the dog panting, because
it was already summer hot –

the last summer, as it turned out, for him, the man,
because the road was bumpy, the dog was jumpy and bang,
a fatal discharge, from the faithful gun caused by the faithful dog.

Sad to think one of these two Belgians
could still be around, if a pothole hadn’t punctured
their faithful friendship. Oh well.

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