I was asked by a friend what I meant by the footnote I have been putting at the bottom of my recent poems. Generally I make it a rule not to explain my poetry, firstly because I think it insults my readers’ intelligence (that’s you!), and secondly because I’m a poet, not an expert in poetics. However, maybe a brief word will help you deal with the direction my poetry has taken.
I can’t sit still, I have to play. Right now I’m doing something that isn’t new – other poets must have done this before, but it’s new to me – inasmuch as I am eliminating “I” from my poems. I am no longer making a deliberate expression from myself, but rather presenting you with language and giving you the opportunity to experience it. I am acknowledging your reading as a vital part of the creative process, perhaps more vital than my initial creation, because your part is ongoing. Read, re-read, and either go with the ideas the words and the poem as a whole gives to you, or supply ideas and bend the language to them. More than that I really can’t add.
No new poem today, However, if you would like to read something different, here is a recent short story of mine – a tale of horror from more than a thousand years ago, when Vikings raid Western Scotland. Please visit, and enjoy.
The most honest devil is despair, singing
tunelessly about his lost home, strung out,
pants-seat patched from wet pavements,
back against rough bricks scratched
through his nightshift, a peach by his right
hand, he won’t reach for it, a fiddle by his
left he won’t play, a switch by his shoulder
he won’t lean on for light; but at least his
long lost home’s his mantra, he’ll never see
it, he’ll never sell a bootlace and the fare’s
steep, the stair’s steep, that old moving stair
where you can sit and watch a shower of
Newton’s apples and, if you have no despair,
no devil in you, you can reach out and catch
one with amazing (he doesn’t reach out) grace.
Despair, he remembers tunes, a whole pibroch
of glory, pitch, waver, that fade as mouth opens,
that patch of wet looks like Australia, the apples
bounce by, each one bruising bounce-by-bounce,
after bounce, the peach sits dumb, the fiddle
noticeably over time succumbs to tension and
bows, neck the leg of a nursing chair, rattle of
pebbles in the bodywork, surface grey fishskin,
strings making cartruts, fit for hangmanstraps,
bodylights, hoversaws, rickclamps, coreplasters,
stingman magistrates, coldkin jarheads, jamfree
judases, killbottles, the narrative of the honest
The wetpatch is Antarctica, sundry and cold,
the scars from the bricks open and won’t close,
the saturation climbs his nightsark, his mouth
is a round O, a calamity; he fell with all the
other angels, his transformation from bird to
bat, his flight only downwards, the only regretful
angel, hence his half-honesty, lie-wallow, the
neon near him journeys red, yellow, blue,
rossgiallo, gialloblu, blurosso, he wrings
his hands, rings his fingers, indexes a new
confession on the flagstones but forgets to
express vowels, thus: ’m srry ddn’t mn t.
His smartphone clingles but he doesn’t answer,
because it would be no one, it would be “No 1,”
his wallpaper is a shade greyer than black.
His mouth is a round O his tongue makes Q,
lads and lasses shoe by, hop by, pass him by,
or try because he’s a giant disguised as a little
man, they have to use dance steps, he is
seductive, swings his idle arm out and asks
why the hell, what’s the use, dance steps,
what. They say fast, forgetting spaces
Ohonestdevildespairtelluswhattodo and he
replies d nthng bcs thr s nthng y cn d.
He is truly seductive, being the killer of vowels,
his whole clothing a superGaia now, the wet
only missing he pantcuffs yet, part of he socks,
the armpit of he undershift, his crying but like
tears you can’t pity, won’t, crying like coldsores,
like allsores, give him leave, but like a grim
preacher, like the tidiest, straighttoothed,
sobersuit telebob, his followers legion-up
in rows, because despair’s a big, big deal.
Honest devil, a touchstone, jack, up, ruby,
gehenna, garage, gall, gang, griddle, gaul,
go, the blind bury the blind, he smartphone
fills up with #s and @s while his not looking,
bland, opinion, guard, a-go-go, go, figure,
repeated ad infinitum, without charge, no.
He trail just go cold.