The man from Porlock


when a man meets a woman
he wants the impossible

as in fairy tales – the ones
he’s read or his mother told him –
& for a while it seems

he can manage it – the impossible –
a stately pleasure dome decree?
which is the way

Coleridge put it
knowing well enough, he couldn’t
decree anything but

the fabulous Kubl
could, as in fact he did, girdling
round  – twice five miles

of fertile ground
with walls & towers, planting
gardens bright with sinuous rill,

groves, vines
& ‘incense-bearing trees’, etc.
Then, there’s the man from Porlock

who always (it seems as if it’s
always) gets in the way. But women
know this, which is why

so many of them practise
the dulcimer & sing of Mt Abora –
& the man from Porlock

well, that’s another story …

from Summer in the Cote D’Azur (HeadworX, 2003), © Alistair Paterson 2003, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004

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