top of page

Alan Baker

Alan Baker was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and now lives in Nottingham where he runs the poetry publisher Leafe Press and is editor of its webzine 'Litter'. He is currently working on a visual/ text collaboration with the Milan-based artist Rebecca Forster. Recent collections are "Letters from the Underworld" (Red Ceilings, 2018), "Riverrun" (KFS, 2019) and "A Journal of Enlightened Panic" (Shoestring, UK 2020). He has translated the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy and Abdellatif Laâbi.


From “Angel Poems #1 - #24

The traveller might encounter them

on the stony path by the canal

where the birds turn from sparrow and pigeon

to finch and warbler, where photons convey

energy proportional to their radiation

and blue wavelengths dominate

as the solar elevation angle

decreases. They swarm above the water

or among the long summer grasses,

their functions so many

that they cannot be enumerated.

They dwell in the heavens and minister

in blue-shifted twilight which offers

a constant polarization pattern

in non-cloudy skies that provide

orientation cues and UV patterns.

Their compound vision guides them

to pollen and dung, to mating and food,

they hover in choirs by the canal side,

with no thought of intercession

or redemption, just colour opponency,

suggesting convergent solutions

of neural computation to common problems.


They spend their days hunting and foraging,

short nights, dawns of singing, speaking

the language of small children, becoming a symbol

of precarious living, grief and song,

visible and invisible, some say messengers,

nursery-rhymed remembrances, escape

from cats and hawks, a lily among thorns,

voice-in-the-whirlwind style, sounding like

bells borne by the breeze, or echoes

woody and resinous, shaking leaves,

tips of trees. As earth tilts towards the Sun

they congregate in crepuscular light

with inherently diverse irradiance spectra.

Their choirs soar at morning and at evening

and underpin the development of diverse flora

and extant predator populations.


Their absence is palpable

on summer nights

when a window left open

or a door swinging in a breeze

would once have admitted

visitors too small to see,

some large enough

to batter the lightshade

or frighten the children.

It's a shadow of itself,

a once-this-was-all-fields moment,

turning stones, raking leaf-litter.

Was that a buzz? Do they bite?

Hovering over a wild rose,

swarming on excrement,

gliding on glistening wings

over the pond at dusk,

uninvited guests

after the light has gone out,

spooky, their disappearances.


Their sense apparatus adapted

to an all-encompassing quiet,

to them our psalms or hymns

of praise are soundless as

their own wings, strung out

on tuneless vibrations, immune

to music and heedless of appeals

or peeling bells or riffs laid down

by bluesmen for laments or elegies

or born-again gladness, and yet,

cilium function and aspects

of auditory transduction leave room

for hope that they share our world

of sounds and we their nights

of trills and chirps that take us

out of a silent room to experience

intraspecific proprioception

and a last gasp of sunset.



bottom of page