Oz Hardwick is a York-based writer, photographer and musician, who has been published extensively worldwide, and has read everywhere from Glastonbury Festival to New York, via countless back rooms of pubs. His most recent poetry collection is Learning to have Lost (IPSI, 2018). A keen collaborator with other artists, Oz has had work performed by classical musicians in UK concert halls, by flamenco musicians in Italian villas, and with experimental sound and film artists in an Australian cinema. By day he is Professor of English and Programme Leader for Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University. In his spare time, Oz is a respected music journalist. ‘The poetry is as good as it gets’ – HQ
I’ve forgotten the rules to the card games we played, but remember how we’d sit, serious as movies, studying our awkward hands. We smoked the roots of those flowers from the river, then soothed our throats with chilled cider. It did the trick, and we shared a sleeping-bag in the damp back bedroom, listening to the sea. I sometimes think that there weren’t any rules, though there must have been, or I couldn’t have lost.
When I lifted the floorboards, I found myself
face to face with my father, younger than I am now.
His sleeves were rucked up, and he bit his tongue
in concentration as he dusted himself down
with a souvenir clothes brush from Toronto,
bought when it was a small town, when my grandfather
named his village and his children. He lay,
oil under his cracked nails, ten No. 6
and a brass lighter packed in his shirt pocket,
stretched on a crucifix of chimneysweep’s brushes.
He nodded to the shadows, where my girlfriend lay
dead, wound in a sari steeped in mothballs.
Don’t let me catch you down here, he smiled,
but we both knew I had no choice.