A poem from John’s 2018 book Vallum has been selected for The 3am Project.

The 3am Project is part of Lost Letters, a Heritage Lottery-funded arts and heritage project making contemporary creative connections to the past through an archive of old letters at the Surrey History Centre.

Inspired by a single letter in the archives from a gentleman called Frank Baker and written at 3am to a certain Isabel, the project invited poets and artists to respond to the particular darkness of this hour.


Kitchen Landscape is a poem about insomnia, and is reproduced here for your night-time pleasure..


Sleep long fled the bedroom
on a path now vague, the stairwell blocked 
by the jumbled mountain range of chairs.

So I must look out across the kitchen table
past a Corian lake of glacial green,
where dishes tumble as some vast moraine.

And a strip-light sends its silent lightning
into the echoing valley of the hall.

Alone in the wilderness. Night.
The distant jet lends a civilising air,
an abrupt click - and the fridge’s hum
brings it quickly down to ground. (No one hurt).

Meanwhile I have to sit
by the glowing embers of the kettle,
while Artex clouds hang heavy above my head.

The silence too is not so silent,
for pops and creaks emerge fox-like
from the caves in the floor
and ghosts in the freezer do their moonlit work.

At least the morning glimmers through the sodium
lights and the tap drips with a promise of rain.

Yet I must with weary tread, go back to bed and 
climb the wooden hills, again. 

From Vallum © John Elcock 2018. Reproduced by permission of The Artel Press.