Category Archives: My Poems

Istanbul – Above the Ring

(Listen to the poem here)

Eminönü  jumps up
the staircase
of its vowels
in a hurry

out from the Golden Horn.
It’s not a place to dawdle
waving one’s hands
over the slender minarets
trying to uncork the sky:
here all is cars and boats
and bustle. Read more…

On airports

O(Listen to the poem here)

Some airports get a person’s name

and then drift miles away
and come to dis-resemble them.
Unless Da Vinci was a good
extortionist, De Gaulle dressed
black in grimmest leather
and had a hobby which
he practised in a dungeon
and JFK used sticky tape
to keep his trousers up.
Time for renaming:
Rome Al Capone,
Paris Franz Kafka and
New York Homer Simpson Airport.

Phillip Hill 2007


(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

The Pharmacy on Reforma (Puebla, Mexico)

(Listen to the poem here)

“This,” says the pharmacist reading
the label, “is good for eyesight,
indigestion, back ache,
the liver, children and old age.
Or,” she adds, reading my face, “else
we have
three tubes of toothpaste
for the price of one.”


(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

A Party of One

(Listen to the poem here)

(best seen if you stand back and squint a little and imagine it as a set of slightly cubist paintings with runny paint and everything a little crooked)

Tonight I dine alone but,
better said,
I am a party of one.
I have brought all my music
with me
in my head
and I have
poems read to me
by poets I have never met.
They flit between the waiters
and bend their verses round the oil,
the pepper and the vinegar.
Read more…

The Compleat Shoe-shiner

(Listen to the poem here)

My craft is not just shining shoes.
Look all around you. See the queues
of people lining up to see
the sky this morning. It was me
gave it a blueshine after dawn—
my signature’s there on the lawn.
I shined the tower, I shined the clock.
I shined the church, I shined the flock.
Now they’ve got haloes round their hair
which pick up broadcasts in the air
and wait behind them when they bow.
The grocer’s wares are finer now
I’ve luminised his fruit and veg.
And see that blackbird on the hedge?
—I gave its beak that brassy tone
and now it sings the saxophone.
Read more…

The Monster in Ness

image(Listen to the poem here)

Perfection, happiness, forever—
abstraction isn’t where we live:
if we had not devised a word for happiness
we might well be content
or even happy,
for many times we are.
Read more…

The Observation Car

Somewhere along the line

(Listen to the poem here)

The train for Kandy leaves Colombo Fort
just as the morning heat begins to swell.
Inside the observation car the rusty fans
begin to turn and tilt. We watch the platform
where we stood for one, two quarters
of an hour slide off our moving stage.
And now we’re ready for the world
to come by and perform for us.
Read more…

Recipe no. 2: Sumida River Empty Cake

(Listen to the poem here)

First buy a ring cake,

which you will not eat.

A chance to buy a flavour you don’t like.

Cut out the middle hole, be small

and try to take forever. Think that

a mouse is lapping up Sumida river.

Discard the cake, carry the hole,

use all your fifty fingers, carefully,

within the skein there can be dreams. Read more…

Three Dogs in Cholula

(Listen to the poem here)

There’s dozing in the market in Cholula

in the afternoon.

Apart from that, some dogs.

Dog one is trying hard

to be a crocodile:

in pancake pose

under the portico

it floats its snout

upon the tiles. Read more…


(Listen to the poem here)

They thought it was a good idea
to put the Nile Perch into Lake Victoria.
Such a convenient and clever thing
to have so many fish steaks
quickly growing at the bottom of the road.
The way it grew so quick, they found, was by
devouring everything in sight and in mouth’s way.
Two hundred species used to live
inside the lake, and now they’ve gone,
mostly by means of being nileperch lunches.
Read more…