Stacked in the dirtiest splintered

crates, fat capsicum bells, red and

improbably bright yellow with

precise stubby stalklets and a

cleanness verging on gloss, toy-like.

Plump, doleful Jennifer, checkout

girl with one temple leant to touch

coolly a rounded grey corner

of till; once, drunk, someone had said

her cheeks looked like red capsicums,

and now she peppers her thoughts with

the sight of great wild animals

roaming her greengrocers – leopards,

elephants – and venturing out,

colouring winter with tropic,

taming urban with usualness with

shades from between rainbow-threadings,

unheard notes between semi-tones.

A quite early poem this one, maybe from 1990/91. Haven’t a clue where the idea came from, perhaps just literally from a red pepper I brought home which looked particularly bright?? Exciting, yes? I knew absolutely nothing about how to write poetry, about form or anything else, was just winging it and hoping for the best. This was one of the only things I wrote which had any rules about it, sticking to 8 syllables per line, just as a test to see if I could do it. An editor once sent another poem back, saying that “the line endings seem a bit random”. I thought, ah, he’s found me out.