I read about him that was given wings.
His father fixed those wings to carry him away.

They carried him halfway home, and then he fell.
And he fell not because he flew

but because he loved it so.
You see it’s neither pride, nor gravity but love

that pulls us back down to the world.
Love furnishes the wings, and that same love

will watch over us as we drown.
The soul makes a thousand crossings, the heart, just one.

John Glenday, “Landscape with Flying Man,” Grain: Poems (Pan Macmillan, 2009)

Sally Mann- From A Thousand Crossings Exhibition 

You see
It’s neither pride, nor gravity but love
That pulls us back down to the world.
The soul makes a thousand crossings, the heart, just one.
– John Glenday, 2009


A Panoramic View of San Francisco

after the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge

Sepia suits clapboard well.
It varnishes the houses with a period air,
their dusty stoops and cedar
shingles gleaming wearily. We can almost smell

the pitch and resin. Street after vacant street
banks down towards the water. Scoured paths
and pavements of compacted mud craze
in the morning heat.

A panoramic view of San Francisco.
He laid out the surrounding precincts
frame by frame, like freshly chloroformed insects.
But his plates were slow.

Even at the widest aperture
exposure times were what –
seconds at least? Enough to let
things that were quick enough rub through

into transparency. Hundreds of passers-by
were turned to a threadbare gauze
when they crossed between his camera and the haze
of distant light. Perhaps the currency

of immortality is staisis
rather than enduring power,
genius or evil. Once, someone wrote, means never.
Most of us falter simply through living once.

Notice that packhorse, tethered by
the neck to history, its head fudged
into anonymity where it ducked
to dislodge a fly.

That half-presence shows how bodies sometimes turn
to dust because they move.
Scratch love, shadows, ignorance or the grave,
it’s what we see which makes us blind.

John Glenday


I was thinking of what you said
and it isn’t true. Who can say what will come
and what will come to nothing?

You seemed so far away.
The moon had long set, but something distant and cold
shone through the half-open window

and the form that lay beside me in the bed
seemed less than an absence smoothed into the dark.
That night, I held you not for warmth or pardon, but for light.

Remember that blind man
who once passed us in the street?
How he touched his stick gently

against the world – just confirming the world
still travelled with him – then strode on as if something
that was not darkness lay ahead?

John Glenday