Sweets for Breakfast

Sweets for Breakfast


Sweets for breakfast, all the crap of the day

complete in one convenient sitting

like a read-through of some ‘creative writing’

exercise, or speeded-up Dies Irae

at one hundred and fifty beats per minute.

One day, my beaten heart gives up on it,


packs in: the veins and arteries hardening

against me, outraged by saturated fats

as blood-purifying Caliphates

by booze, fast foods – the Government gives WARNING.

Something in the blood – white corpuscles

more terrorist sleeper than blood cells.


The air collapses also: late autumn;

unsentimental windshowers wring and pluck

the trees half-bare (Dutch elm disease, ash dieback),

the blasted habitats of Brock Bottom

shrinking back like gums; tooth-cogs; skeletons

revealed, assumed, bodily, into the heavens,


the fossils of the north: dead mothers; the kid

who should have been at school, or safe at home.

The poet’s less intelligent than their poem:

mathematics to a teenage Euclid

sketching the circle. It’s a guessing-

game in which foreknowing is foreclosing,


though an atmosphere gathers, like November fog

on frost-furrowed farmland repossessed by Lloyd’s

of London. I stumbled through those clouds

as through hiss-buzzing swarms of analogue

static, cosmic background radiation

flooding the heads of a white-noisy nation,


cycled through, without a careful thought,

wobbling through imagination’s unbalance.

Tractors were always Massey-Fergusons –

great red elephants, bumbling, lost, throughout

the blunt country between the lakes and towns.

I trod in cowpats, went the wrong way. Once


you’ve made that first footprint, you can’t go back

(I take as my example, here, Ted Hughes –

subject of that liberal J’Accuse!

of displaced accusation – shaman or quack;

hunter, butcher, murderer, hawk-fancier;

dark horse of the London intelligentsia;


his Sylvia not his Sylvia

but theirs, rising from the ash to eat

the heart out of the English laureate;

star-droplet of essential moonsilver

poised to drip from the furred camellia leaf

delicate, subjective, the pearl of grief).


The footprint in the mud is filled with rain.

The footprint on the moon sealed into dust

is perfect always. Galileo ‘confessed’.

The Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son

moved him, in their sacred depositions,

inspired his hand through those retrograde motions


regular as clockwork… But I digress.

Again. Teste David cum Sibylla.

Tom the farmer melts into his Celia

underground. They had a sheepdog called Jess.

Yes, it rhymes… But it happens to be true.

Caravans hunched beneath the wishing-tree


in the campers’ field, flickered by pipistrelles

at nightfall, popping in and out of existence

like crackling eye-motes in Albert Einstein’s

worst nightmares; tiny black holes

puncturing the Gore-Tex of the universe.

Physicists are ravenous for pathos.


Your passionate theories make me sick for apathy.

Turn the TV off. The screen goes black

as if the universe had had a heart attack,

cosmic cardiomyopathy;

infinite, starlit, hospital corridor;

reality’s congenital disorder.


Alex Wylie


Alex Wylie is a poet and critic who lives in Leeds. His debut collection, Secular Games, and a book on the later work of Geoffrey Hill, Radiance of Apprehension, are both forthcoming in 2018.