Here’s the fifth part of PERVERSE issue 4! I hope you enjoy these poems - they’ve got everything from Star Wars to Aliens to the seven Crufts categories of dog. Enjoy!
Several of the poems are shown below as images in order to preserve their spacing. However, as they are both slightly longer poems, they’ve had to be broken into two images for legibility. That means you’ll see an unusually long gap between the two halves of each poem, which is not ideal. You can always read them in the PDF for a smoother read. Apologies to the poets for the newsletter’s manhandling of their beautiful work.
With warmest wishes,
(FYI if you are reading this on a mobile phone, it may be best to turn the phone sideways. Some of the poems are displayed as images, so make sure you’ve clicked “show images” at the top of this mail. If you'd rather read these poems in a PDF you can do so here, along with previous instalments of this issue.)
There are songs that have you in them like a pit.
Stubborn and rock-salt, sick with romantic delusions.
I’d like to tell you some recent discoveries –
that Fanny Blankers Cohen won four gold medals
aged thirty with two children; that there are wild monkeys in Gibraltar.
They called her the flying housewife. It’s indeed not enough
to watch each morning come and think tomorrow
because it is too hard to see you die. Gundog, hound, utility,
terrier, working, pastoral, toy. Fray Bentos is a port city in Uruguay.
At the sanctuary of Artemis in Brauron, young girls dressed as bears –
devout, baskets of figs in their hands, dancing the heavy steps of bears.
Leia on Hoth
The fur is mostly on the inside of the parka
though a black-tipped ruff of it
runs around the hood’s perimeter.
Snow-air trapped in the layers of the pelt
tempers then warms; and the scent
of the animal hunted for its skin, rises.
She thinks of a burrow, bitten out of the drift –
its chambers and tunnels rubbed smooth
by the tumble of raw young.
A parka is uniform. A parka
is official issue. Outside, the sun has dropped
and the blizzard has started to howl.
SHUT UP IN A CAVE
Extract from Pine Island
Wednesday, 6 June
The swan lifts out of the water on heaving wings and rushes along the river. People turn back to watch as they walk. Such agony to pull yourself into the sky. Behind me the train is crossing the bridge over the river like a catastrophe. I want to see both. Girls skim past on a boat as the man cycles alongside saying ‘faster, faster’. I remember the other swan that couldn’t lift itself out of the lake last week. I’d like to make it a metaphor, of course, for that idea of losing hope. Perhaps you would tell me even now that you could have guessed the ending, as if this was a kind of clue. Of course, I would have to agree. There is the boat returning and I’m guessing by now that the swan has landed. The ducks are making an ugly sound and the boat slows down as it approaches. It might be because of the ducklings or the children on the riverside feeding the swan. I’d like to tell you that I love you, even send a gift that embodies that feeling. Instead it seems I must carry it into this walking, into this letter and keep my head. It would never do to alarm you. You might say the world is a fragile place and who am I to argue? It wasn’t always like this. Or perhaps only for me who carried on oblivious in my ignorance. It is something akin to when you realise what all the insomniacs can hear, a kind of strange humming, as they lay awake on their pillows resisting the dark and waiting for the light to return as if it ever would.
Alex Bell lives and works in London. Her poems have appeared in The White Review, The Rialto, Magma and other magazines and anthologies. She is a TOAST poetry mentee.
Note on ‘Arkteia’:
“‘Arkteia’ was written for a friend who was a pub quizmaster and incredible source of trivia. Most of the poem is constructed from answers to quiz questions from the (many) virtual quizzes I took part in over lockdown. Did you know the seven Crufts categories of dog? You do now.”
Julia Bird grew up in Gloucestershire and now lives in London where she works as a poetry promoter. Her two poetry collections published by Salt are Hannah and the Monk (2008) and Twenty-four Seven Blossom (2013), and she recently published Paper Trail, a poetry artist's book with Mike Sims and Roy Willingham (Blown Rose, 2019). Now You Can Look, her Emma Press poetry pamphlet, was published in 2017.
Note on ‘Leia on Hoth’:
“This is the second Harrison-Ford-in-his-pomp poem that I've written. The first was about that high-seas Indiana Jones moment when Marion makes him ask for a kiss, written for the spoken word night celebrating Raiders of the Lost Ark’s 30th anniversary I organised with some fellow 80s children poets. ‘Leia on Hoth’ is in his co-star’s voice. Han is not the only scoundrel in the snow.’”
Amy Acre is the editor of Bad Betty Press and author of two pamphlets, And They Are Covered in Gold Light (Bad Betty) and Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads (flipped eye), each chosen as a PBS Pamphlet Choice.
Note on ‘MU/TH/UR 6000’:
“I’m currently writing lots and lots of poems about mothers and motherhood, and was drawn to this atypical example: ‘MU/TH/UR 6000’ (also known simply as ‘Mother’), the commanding and morally indifferent ship computer aboard the Nostromo in the film Alien. The poem includes found text from the screenplay, the arstechnica.com article ‘The throwaway line in Aliens that spawned decades of confusion’ and the Talk to Transformer neural network.”
Charlotte Knight is a British-Ukrainian poet. She is studying an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has been commended in the National Poetry Competition 2019, and shortlisted for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry 2020. Her work has previously been featured in Magma, and centres around fertility, goats and the moon.
Note on ‘SHUT UP IN A CAVE’:
“The poem is an exploration of the sacrifices of motherhood and non-motherhood. It examines the history and the personal, and blends their boundaries. The loose usage of form, and the repetition throughout, mimic the fluidity of the two by creating a tumbling effect. One of the biggest questions the poem poses is where does history actually end and the personal begin?”
Lucy Sheerman is currently working on a fan fiction project inspired by Jane Eyre. Previously, she co-created Even You Song, a new Evensong inspired by the idea of taking an extended journey to the moon with just one other person.
Note on ‘Extract from Pine Island’:
“Pine Island was composed during a year-long correspondence project. It was inspired by one of Bernadette Mayer’s writing experiments: ‘every day, write a letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist’. The resulting collection of letters, addressed to an unnamed ‘dearest’, are sent not knowing who will receive them and without the expectation of reply.”