Skip to content

Three poems by Anthony Costello

The Linguistics of ‘LOSS’

‘the observer is choked with observations’
– Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

How it ends (unfailingly) on a double ‘SS’
two impervious swans
floating by the ‘O’ habitually – the ‘O’
a void, or bottomless pond, and no matter
how long the gaze into hand-rippled water
nothing is gleaned except ‘the sound of silence’
which is always there in grief,
and that Alpha-Lima ‘L’ – an emphatic letter
in Love & pLedge & fait a compLi,
followed by ‘OSS’, a back-of-the-throat —“choked —
guarantee of grief calling, as the ‘drum’ in ‘beat’
or the onomatopoeic ‘broken’ is to ‘defeat’.


for J.G. Ballard

A jellyfish of trapped lights, or glow worms
flattening under the dial of night;
(clutch) brake. & speed mimic the world outside
moving like a boxer on medication;
Centers, Parks, Glassy Rides, The Car
A grief-bucket, shield, a bubble of coral cries,
The Soul, unquestioning as Smooth Radio,
unfit for transformation in The Noughties:
mass Shopping? In the style of 1950s Sci fi,
love? A Jap-file of Hentai at Home,
work? Security. Android Communications:
Surveyors of crash-littered roads.


for Anne & Mary


xxxxxxxx Tricks of ‘The Trade’ are essential,
singling-out silver hallmarks & cigarette cards,
distinguishing art nouveau
from fin de siècle fakes & curios,
weighing-up the splendour of gilded brass
or gauging the flux in class between
cabinets of Glost earthenware
and fine bone china,
recognizing a Stradivarius or 1st
of Ulysses when I see one


And certain of the gluttenous man
staring back from an oval mirror
in a clefted recess of Victoriana.
xxx Thirty years older
than I remembered: hair, speckled
grey, pouches for eyes, & candlestick jowls
forked at the neck tie & collar,
a cunning, wrinkled, entre nous encounter
not unlike the wizened picture show
in the attic of a priceless imagination*


Assembling a line of knives & spoons**
in the Tea Room concession
later, the visage appeared
(again) and (again) and (again),
warped antique reflections
segueing to a portrait of bone fide wives
tied-up in a portmanteau at home,
a vision of French drapes and velvet cushions,
a menagerie of Game & Collectables
xxxxxxxx in the mothballed studio.

*the antique hunter is thinking about The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
**the antique hunter is thinking of the famous line in T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock’…’I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’



Anthony Costello read Literature and Philosophy at Middlesex University and was awarded an MA from (what was) the University of North London. He taught English in Felpham, West Sussex, and has worked as a bookseller and gardener. His poetry has appeared in Poetry Review (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review, Magma, Orbis, Dream Catcher, Acumen and Anon.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x