Out of Bounds, Ross Kightly
There’s a type of poetry that stares at the world head on and reports on it, loud and clear. Then there’s the the sort that is more interested in the edges, the fuzzier corners, the sort that plays with everyday half-ignored jokes and looks quizzically at the variousness of living. That’s where Kightly’s poems fit, leading the reader to look into corners that are neither dark nor sinister, just neglected and left to themselves. Out of Bounds is a perfect pamphlet for readers who identify with the loosely-linked stanzas of ‘Locale’, such as—
Opposite the cake counter
is both a good & a bad choice,
depending on what you want
to be meditating on.
Thinking and and its unnameable patterns—the way the mind loops and re-invents what it encounters—underlies many poems. ‘Splash’ opens with a combination, both a reminder from childhood and the contemporary/adult voice:
Whatever you were doing
that made the happy sound
you need to stop it
will be watching
The unspecified ‘someone’ holds the power base in the centre ground, while ‘you’ are making a happy mess of things somewhere out of sight—though not quite out of hearing. I like to think it’s something we don’t grow out of, like curiosity, and Kightly has retained all his enthusiasm and curiosity for oddities. Even when starting with a specific place—as in, for example, ’Whin Sill (Embleton Beach, Northumberland)’—Kightly avoids an obviously large and expansive view, instead choosing to look downwards, under his feet, ’choosing just one among all / from a beach littered with pebbles’. It’s the way of pebbles to go dull when picked up, to lose the gleam of association. Even so, this is the chosen one—
a simple paperweight I thought
but it’s brought with it the whole 300
million years. My desk can hardly bear it.
One pebble: individual, on a desk we can easily and effortlessly forget. How many of us have done this? How few have thought to write about it? Anyone can find a corner to fit into in Out of Bounds.