Robert Peake’s second collection of poems tackles the weathering of personal, political and psychological storms in our present-day climate of chaos. He conjures with life choices, personal loss, grief and its long, painful aftermath, and a world in turmoil, wild with unreliable news and terrible forecasts, where nothing is certain. Here’s a brief glimpse.


Technological advancements

Drones reach impossible places
so now the killing eye is always
with us, above us, whirring.

Thanks to hacks and leaks, we know
secrets that turn the stomach
from gold into lead.

The end of starvation is within reach
of a universal point-one-percent tax
on complaining to bus drivers.

Clear plastic safety covers
shield red buttons from toddlers
and presidents.

No home is complete without
gun safe, bomb shelter, fridge-freezer
all in one.

We give laser surgery to the hungry,
diamonds to pigeons, facelifts to cats.
We give because it hurts.


Free will

“Breastmilk or bottle?” you don’t get to decide
between the hard work of intimacy and plastic ease,
but weaning comes to us all and all too soon.

“Biscuit or cake?” the hallmark of childhood,
since sweetening the deal of your minor role makes it
easier to bounce between bullies and bicycle accidents.

“Tea or coffee?” the first question of adulthood,
since Lord knows you’re going to need something
to get you through it all before retirement.

“Backgammon or bridge?” you must fill the time left
to you by your offspring, smile rememberingly
when they enter, and wave when they depart.

“Oak or Cedar?” you can decide if you like,
or if the whole business makes you squeamish, defer
to the next in line, and await further questioning.


Robert_PeakeRobert Peake is an American-born poet living near London. He created the Transatlantic Poetry series, bringing poets together for live online readings and conversations. His film-poem collaborations have been widely screened in the US and Europe. He is a poetry surgery tutor for the Poetry Society in Hertfordshire, and writes for the Huffington Post. His debut The Knowledge (2015) and his new collection Cyclone are published by Nine Arches Press.
Read more

Author portrait © Valerie Kampmeier