Discover more from Perverse
I hope you had a good weekend. Here are some more poems for you! A quirkly little gang this week, I think, with all sorts of fauna and flora involved...
There’s a query in the final poem about lemons, which has somewhat obsessed me today. It makes me want to put the word “lemon” in front of everything in the poem’s subsequent line: lemon otter, lemon froyo, lemon chaise longue…
Then I find that “lemon otter” feels a lot like a reverse “ottoman”, which is another type of seat, like a “chaise longue”. Which makes me wonder how we can get a seat out of “froyo”…
And then the image of a solid swirl of frozen yoghurt overwhelmingly makes me think of Heather Phillipson’s tremendous fourth plinth sculpture, which you can still find in London’s Trafalgar Square until Spring 2022. What a delicious sculpture… If you want me today, I’ll be trying to eat some art.
OH! Now that makes me think of a wonderful story I once read on an artist’s or poet’s website (I can no longer remember or find the source, apologies). It involved a child writing to an artist (possibly Charles M Schulz?), and being sent some sketches in return. But then the child’s mother had to write back to the artist saying “I’m so sorry, but could you please send some more? My son was so excited that he ate them.”
Imagine being so overwhelmed by art that you have to eat it?
Enjoy this week’s poems!
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, in this archive of previous issues.)
There is no Evidence of Contagious Yawning in Red-Footed Tortoises
Following extensive study
something you didn’t know you didn’t know
Girl to be buried with a finch in her mouth
The Trinity is a Triad and we are All and Never Gods
With a funnel in my ear, I water the little ones.
They love to drink—more shoots, stems
to soothe self-talk,
lost arguments, the missed chance, what-ifs.
For light, my eyes stay open.
The book says check your ratio.
High in phosphorous, for rooting strength,
to keep more plants vining up disturbed, inner walls.
Until I am worthy of flowers, easy on potassium.
Ringing in my ears keeps me awake, my heartbeat
loud as a bell.
The plants talk among themselves.
Nitrogen, they whisper.
Not Only is Reincarnation Real but it Might Improve Your Credit Score
Graham Clifford’s poetry has been described as having ‘coolly brutal frankness.’ His fifth collection, In Charge of the Gun, is published by the Black Light Engine Room. Graham is also published by Against the Grain and Seren.
Note on ‘There is no Evidence of Contagious Yawning in Red-Footed Tortoises’:
“The title of this poem was a BBC News website headline. I had no idea they were checking animals for contagious yawning but am heartened someone is attending to these things. Esoteric academic study is so vital yet at times seemingly absurd. It’s a great metaphor for the human condition. Just because there is no evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
Heidi Williamson is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and teaches for the Poetry School, Poetry Society and others. She has three collections with Bloodaxe. Her latest, Return by Minor Road, came out in 2020.
Note on ‘Girl to be buried with a finch in her mouth’:
“Archaeologists uncovered a girl’s skeleton with ‘at least one finch’ in her mouth. Was it symbolic of song, voice, breath, ascent, peace…? What about the bird(s) – they surely wouldn’t be put, dead, in a live girl’s mouth? Perhaps they were killed to ‘accompany’ her. Or, chillingly, placed alive in her corpse. It made me think of complex relationships – how we give voice to them or bury the words inside us.”
Nicks Walker is a queer trans ex-Catholic and lapsed Scot. You can find his objects in SPAM 003, Rejection Letters, Punk Noir Magazine and elsewhere on The Internet. His allies include yellow, and his enemies include the sun.
Note on ‘The Trinity is a Triad and we are All and Never Gods’:
“A psycho-geography of Us, a thing that was both relief and rotting. In a dissociated time, everything was very physical. Decay is a kind of movement. I try and think about how Me related to Her, and I just taste a lightbulb, damp rat smell, fizzy hummus and condensation. Like an unholy trinity, we were not each other, but we were all Us (still, on the fingertip of my tongue).”
Nils Nelson’s poetry has appeared in Seneca Review, Ironwood, Crazyhorse, Partisan Review, Quarterly West and other usual suspects, more recently Salt Hill and Drunk Monkeys. He’s a winner of last December’s Bermuda Triangle Prize at thepoetsbillow. Nils is finishing a full-length poetry manuscript while he burns through sunscreen in Tucson, Arizona.
Note on ‘Houseplants’:
“Something hit me, perhaps extraterrestrial, and the first line of ‘Houseplants’ landed on the page. Seeing as it’s dark in my head, I had to feel my way through the poem, trusting green plants to soothe the demons. I’ve been drawn lately to open-ended conclusions, mindful of what William Matthews said about poems that lean on precious perfection and come to a close ‘like a Tiffany egg clicking shut.’”
Joshua Blackman is a poet and writer who lives in Chichester, UK. His poems have appeared in Ambit, The White Review, The Moth and various other publications. He is currently working on his first collection.
Note on ‘Not Only is Reincarnation Real but it Might Improve Your Credit Score’:
“During lockdown I became unwholesomely obsessed with my own mortality and the prospect of an afterlife. I was reading too much Eastern philosophy, too many hot takes and treating Google like my own personal priest / oracle. This poem is basically me working through my anxieties about death and learning to abide the mad cathedral of the present.”