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By Simon Armitage

    It begins as a house, an end terrace

in this case

    but it will not stop there. Soon it is

an avenue

    which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics’ Institute,

turns left

    at the main road without even looking

and quickly it is

    a town with all four major clearing banks,

a daily paper

    and a football team pushing for promotion.


    On it goes, oblivious of the Planning Acts,

the green belts,

    and before we know it it is out of our hands:

city, nation,

    hemisphere, universe, hammering out in all directions

until suddenly,

    mercifully, it is drawn aside through the eye

of a black hole

    and bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy, emerging

smaller and smoother

    than a billiard ball but weighing more than Saturn.


    People stop me in the street, badger me

in the check-out queue

    and ask “What is this, this that is so small

and so very smooth

    but whose mass is greater than the ringed planet?”

It’s just words

    I assure them. But they will not have it.


Simon Armitage, "Zoom!" from Zoom!. Copyright © 1987 by Simon Armitage.  Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Source: Zoom! (Bloodaxe Books, 1987)

  • Arts & Sciences

Poet Bio

Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire, England, where he still lives. He received a BA from Portsmouth University in geography, and an MS in social work from Manchester University, where he studied the impact of televised violence on young offenders. He worked as a probation officer for six years before focusing on poetry. His formally assured, often darkly comic poetry is influenced by the work of Ted Hughes, W.H. Auden, and Philip Larkin and by music, a connection he pursues in his nonfiction book Gig (2008). Armitage has also performed as a member of the band The Scaremongers. See More By This Poet

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