Alistair Noon


Before I started, I saw
my friends flounder down
onto that rock and fall
into the chill, clear out

of their bright hulls. Alert,
I sped down our route,
around that rock I swerved
and coasted into the pool.

A second try. A try?
I knew what had to be done.
Down I sped along the defile,
swerved and my hull flipped up,

half over. Grabbed
at water. The hull was clenched
between rock and gravel,
my torso plunging breathless.

The stroke that I performed
in air and water, air,
water was the one-armed crawl
within that sudden snare

that left no space to pull
the spraydeck. I waited,
my lungs a piston until
my friends had waded

out to my capsule, there
on the steppe, and hauled
my seated frame into the air
and out of its immobile hull.

From Across the Water (Longbarrow, 2012)

Alistair Noon’s poems and translations from German and Russian have appeared in nine chapbooks from Oystercatcher, Penumbra, Longbarrow, Gratton Street Irregulars, Calder Wood and Barque. His first full-length collection, Earth Records, will appear in 2012 from Nine Arches Press. He lives in Berlin. More info at


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