Here is part F of issue 4 - I hope you enjoy these poems! There will be only two parts of issue 4 left after today’s batch. I must start formulating a plan for what happens next…
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.)
are you experienced? said the man I said yes of course I am experienced and though it took a bit to get on once up I was off like a dog from a trap across the wideness of sea that lay ahead of me and the man’s lad had to power alongside in his little speedboat and knock me from the windsurf board and drag me back and I said did you see that? I totally smashed it
32, 014 objects are still. The building has its humidity controlled, very very carefully. The dehumidifier is serviced every day by a 42-year-old technician nicknamed Husk. 2 curators are/were/will be unaccounted for on a Wednesday July 11th 2003. Cassandra’s mouth is a moth, it flutters off her face. There is dust in Mervin’s trousers, that is all there is. She will not open his flies, she would cough. Cassandra’s mouthless face is a crisp moth’s scale under a microscope. Ahhhh, to cough against blockage, to cough against tight dry skin, she must not cough. Turns. Out. Cassandra’s lost mouth has crept into Mervin’s throat. At first he thought she’d blown him a kiss — but instantly the scritchy legs of her fluttering mouth touched his lips he tried to scream. His throat shattered to sand as Cassandra’s moth pushed past his teeth … and down. That was 5 seconds ago. There is a black drawer between Cassandra’s legs … 2 hours, 8 minutes & 6 seconds ago Mervin pulled that drawer out. At the moment the drawer was fully extended he needed to vomit. But approximately 12g of brown powder is all he produced. Mervin blames the drawer’s contents. Blame is a 5-legged spider drying to death under searing Sun. He has his hands to his throat … his eyes are bulging … the left eye is already grown over with grey-green lichen. Soon the other eye will be as sightless as a pebble in a drystone wall. Cassandra has her mouthless face pressed flat against glass — a black-eyed white mask.
three poems from Notes on a calendar (hung on a demolished wall)
it would be dreary to be called from it
Lowood || Highwood
Harsh blast of birdsong, amplified warbling from artificial trees
outside a shopping mall on Canton Road.
Next morning, under the trees, claws up, beaks gaping,
lungs scorched with last night’s dioxin – dead starlings.
Jack Houston is poet-in-residence at Hackney Libraries. His poetry has appeared in Blackbox Manifold, Magma, The Rialto, Poetry London and Stand. His short story ‘Come Down Heavy’ was recently read by Anne-Marie Duff on Radio 4.
Note on ‘boom’:
“The poem is about my own sense of entitlement, and the assumption that I will be good at anything I try my hand at, often not, and sometimes never, realising it is only through the help of others that I have made it, usually in need of a good towelling down, to any kind of safe shore in the first place.”
Mark Goodwin has been making poetry for over three decades, and has published six full-length books and eight chapbooks with various poetry houses, including Longbarrow Press & Shearsman Books. His next chapbook – Erodes On Air – is forthcoming with American publisher Middle Creek.
Note on ‘Dry’:
“‘Dry’ was written some decades ago, whilst my partner was finishing her PhD on how museums represent, misrepresent or simply don’t represent sub-cultures. I was also delivering behind-the-scenes poetry workshops for Leicestershire’s Museum Services. So my mind was roiling with various ways museums construct cultures and histories – how they validate and invalidate, how they are arbiters of the acceptable, how they decide and define what is designated as perverse.”
Martyn Crucefix’s recent publications are Cargo of Limbs (Hercules Editions, 2019), These Numbered Days, translations of the poems of Peter Huchel (Shearsman, 2019) and The Lovely Disciplines (Seren, 2017). Currently a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Westminster University, he blogs on poetry, translation and teaching at https://martyncrucefix.com/
Note on ‘three poems from Notes on a calendar (hung on a demolished wall)’:
“These poems form the opening to a calendar of 12 pieces, arranged as an abecedary. Carolyn Forche's ‘On Earth’ got me interested in this form. She associates its inclusiveness with the pleroma, the fullness of God’s creation, the One. The fullness I aimed at was the last years of my parents’ lives, the disjointed totality reflecting their confusions. But I hope the whole exudes what it was written with, love.”
Ruth lives in London, but is happiest outdoors. Recent work has appeared in Poetry Review, POETRY, and The Stinging Fly. Her pamphlet Myrtle is published by the Emma Press, and her collection a handful of string is published by Paekakariki.
Note on ‘it would be dreary to be called from it’:
“When he was five, my dad caught TB and spent two years in isolation at Highwood Sanatorium. He has a terrible memory so, hoping to write about this, I instead constructed a found poem out of phrases written by a patient who’d also been at Highwood as a child in the 1950s (thanks Pamela). I then spliced these with extracts from the chapter in Jane Eyre when Lowood gets used as an infirmary.”
London based Konstandinos (Dino) Mahoney won publication of his collection TUTTI FRUTTI in the Sentinel Publication Poetry Book Competition, is winner of the Poetry Society’s 2017 Stanza Competition, teaches Creative Writing at Hong Kong University, and performs his poems as songs with Dino & the Diamonds.
Note on ‘Uprising’:
“I was in Hong Kong November 2019 during widespread street protests against a proposed extradition bill. Teargas, containing poisonous dioxin, was widely used against protestors – mornings after a protest, gassed birds could be seen on the pavements. I matched the dead birds with hyperreal birdsong I heard coming from artificial trees near a shopping mall to create a poem that evokes the unsettling atmosphere of the city at that time.”