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Poems! Children! Dinosaurs! Extracts!
I’ve written something about publishing extracts from poems, as I’m interested in what we get from an extract versus the complete work, but have decided just to give you this extract from what I’ve written instead:
Poems! Children! Dinosaurs! Extracts!
PS It may be best to view these poems on a larger-than-phone-sized screen, or else a phone turned sideways.
A Myriad of Poets’ Children & Taboo
Old Lear Star
Cemetery ( a largest
in The West ) is full
of solid children all
( Cordelias & Ophelias )
in rude health all
of them kneeling & leaning a
gainst solid parades
of gravestones all
of them feeling
stone & lichen
and all of them taking
that is the rub &
of crayon & paper on
an extract from Yes and Hello: A Poem in the Blank Heroic
A collaboration with visual artist Darcie Essex-Hill aged four
“The Heroic Play … ought to be an imitation, in little of an Heroick Poem: and consequently Love and Valour ought to be the Subject of it.” – John Dryden
So Harry did a big poo and it was not
Like very big, but it was quite big and then
It was thirty centimetres long and
It had some wood in it and the poo had
A full grown T-Rex in it. And the T-Rex
Sometimes liked to drive to places like Watford.
And then it was also like a monkey wearing a hat.
But in fact it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
And it went to live on a roundabout on
Bushey Mill Lane I think. And it lived
In America and it lived in South America.
And it swam through the water
And—and—and now I need
To draw a map…
And no one swims through
The ocean because the ocean is dirty. Only
The last time we went to South America
It sank. But you could always go there in a plane.
So there is another T-Rex and it has
Some treasure. So the first thing we have to do is
Get to the treasure. To get there we need to go
Through completely custom rivers.
Outside their house
Are two T-Rexes, but also a million T-Rexes
Guarding the island. And… two brontosauruses
Brontosauri? But they are all over the place
And crashing rains lots of crashing rains.
But then there is a tsunami and yes, obviously
That is a tsunami of rain. But the rain
Isn’t water. It’s a tsunami of even
More T-Rexes. And they are all falling from
The sky. And if they all land the right way up,
Then they’ll eat everyone up.
Is us. In this house. The treasure is somewhere in this
House. But Harry you are guarding the door, because
T-Rexes struggle with things like doorknobs specifically.
And they could all get through the door. All
Of them. All of them.
ALL OF THEM.
And we will see you again
Michał Kamil Piotrowski
Complete the sentences with adjectives that belong to them.
1. I keep my rabbit wet and my hen __________ .
2. The leaves in my tower are fumbled and my head is __________ .
3. My brain is unkempt and my lower intestine is __________ .
4. The lower you go, the more __________ you are.
5. John’s kite is clumsy and crestfallen and his yo-yo is __________ .
6. The sea is rising, the earth is gazing. Susie feels __________ by all
7. Her nouns are tired and her verbs are __________ .
8. The empire has fallen, a new order is __________ .
an extract from Everything Nearly
hilltops under crows, half closing upon
criss cross close like kites held the air
the children’s hands desperate holding
in air the string like rosaries, how earth
will be rosary brown again. I hate these
terms by the afternoon. Near translucent
nylon catching that earth to sun ration
catching colour sometime sheep together
all constellated through hour to hour first
misty morning far worst days of the season
(for them a pheasant is unperturbed by
its mortality, for them this is a threat
to our state of minds) yes I was nostalgic
for the mist even while it was there, yes
an extract from Comet in Ripperland
Pick at a scab. Skylab. Pick at the scab of the sky.
There’s a spell moving through the pulpy flesh of your finger
like the tiny black heart of a see-through Tetra,
straining to leave its random fish form.
Why fish? Why not?
Why not dogfish? Why dog?
Why human? Why not flea?
Why not John Donne’s flea?
Why John Donne?
No flea is an island. No island is free of fleas entire.
Lie down with island fleas and get up with island dogs.
Down boy. Stay!
Sithika throws stones at a neighbourhood dog –
old soul, came back bad, with a limp –
leaves higgledy-piggledy tracks in the dirt.
The ground is sour!
What is this stringy dance
of Sri Lankan hoppers
through the firmament?
The Milky Way.
Skimmed or whole?
Almond or macadamia milk?
What nutty breast guides the shining carapace
of a drunk beetle on a stag night?
Did proper nouns arrive with The Big Bang?
The big bang.
A big Bang.
The big bang didn’t bang and it wasn’t Big,
but it was clever.
A tiny fish trying to shit in the glassy glare of a well-lit aquarium
floats like a child’s balloon from its tethering faeces.
What is it with tropical fish in the Seventies?
All dead now, sweet fish, sweet flickering amusements.
The great fish moved silently through the night water …
We had one, a prize-fighting sucking loach that leapt
to its death in the grateful jaws of an ever-ready Scottie.
Don’t leave the lid off your tank,
keep the fake bulb of freedom burning,
keep the breath of life bubbling
from the sunken galleon,
the diver’s helmet,
the magical archway
accessorised by mermaids.
The tiny spell moves, like an earthworm through Adam’s clay,
before Adam receives CPR from God.
The spell moves, Skylab moves. The spell hurts, Skylab hurts.
The universe hurts, but you knew that.
I’m quoting myself. That’s a bad sign.
The brain misciting itself,
the larva of senility starting to feast.
The Hungry Hungry GATTACApillar is famished.
Some insects plot their paths by the blah blah stars.
Skylab was plotted by insects. Tiny plot points, plot holes.
A musical scroll in the key of fuck-all minor,
each absence a dead ear, a tuning fork for the tiny hammer and sickle and stirrup.
We know it’s coming down. We know its time to come down is up.
I hope it’s coming down on my hometown.
The spell stings.
When I was 11 I saved for a green transistor radio.
At 56 I sleep with Bluetooth on my pillow,
digital radio droning me, or nature sounds pelting me, to sleep.
My love language is Rain On Tent, if I’m honest.
To be honest, as this world goes,
is to be one man picked out of seven billion.
Imaginary tent imagine. Imaginary rain imagine. Imaginary on.
Fall of imaginary rain from imaginary cloud
from imaginary sea, through the pivot table of unreal prepositions.
Prepositions don’t exist in the real, in the wild, on the plain.
They cannot be ‘in’ or ‘on’ or ‘near’ or ‘behind’ or ‘underneath’ anything.
On my pillow, the green pill of the world pulsing
from 9-volt battery in a frail plastic shell, like an Air-Fix model.
I loved Air-Fix models. The parts, the charts, the glues, the paints, the sables,
the dream of perfect replica, analogue twin, ego ideal,
of not spunking glue over see-through cockpit windows,
the intricate landing gear, the swivelling gun turrets.
I fucked it all up. A pit full of cockups.
Never finished a model. Never painted a wing. Never tweezered a decal.
Never finished anything. Christ, what a hobby!
Radio Luxembourg. Radio Free Europe. Blue Monday.
Going for the One. Yes I said, Yes I said, Yes, The Gates of Delirium.
The long-prophesied, long-delayed, long-longed for arrest of the Yorkshire Ripper.
I heard all this from the small green box, the vector of dissent,
the portal to dimensions of disobedience and debate. Invisible airwaves.
Exhausted each day at school. Double maths an unsolved equation,
double games a frozen rugby pitch of split knees, more scabs,
double history strangled by the Treaty of Versailles
like the rotting pilot in The Lord of the Flies in double English.
I was fine with Double English. Triple, Quadruple, Septuple English.
When the Head of English fancied me for Oxbridge he piled books on me for the summer.
A teetering canon of trapped-insect volumes. Lives pressed under paper,
bound between boards, vinegar and brown paper to fix your crown,
keep your head together.
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of fire
and he pounded her skull in with a jack hammer.
Salt and vinegar, a wound in chip paper, swaddling cloths,
yesterday’s news, Wearside Jack cutting letters
out of oily headlines, dripping-stained, oil crises.
‘Just a fish and chip murder.’ Here today, gone tomorra.
Sod ’em. Sodom and Gomorrah. A good-time girl,
no better than she oughta be or not to be,
that is the question, the inquest, the investigation interminable,
nibble nibble nibble.
A decade of drippings. Spillings. Quatermass media.
The Seventies have left the building, the solar system,
Voyager’s barrels dragging the decade to the stars.
I don’t know what they’ll do with it. Might eat it, I suppose.
Those probes are portable showers, monkey cages.
Jaws around the block all summer, around the ABC.
Our family waited months to see it. I’d heard so many rumours,
already knew some of the shocks and yet immersion was complete.
Cinemmersive, cinematter, cinemater, cinesanguine maw of sea-green awe,
never to recover, never to breach the surface again,
sustained by bubbles of storytelling, masticated to jelly
by Les Dents de la Mer, Lo Squalo, mermaids, ma mere, nightmare.
Il grande squalo scivolava silenzioso nelle acque notturne …
Sigmund Freud writes ‘A Child is Being Eaten.’
Late at night I chose the wrong hand and took a hot swig of lit candle,
scorching wax cooling and sealing tooth and lip.
‘Out, out’ and a guttering through the attic and the morning news
that grandma was dead in the early hours.
So we had to see Dad. One of the last times.
He cried all day long, in his favourite chair. I cried along,
horrified by his slumpen shape, the red-raw cheeks,
a Western on the telly, a canteen tipped into sand,
a body full of arrows, a felled bison, eyes replaced by bullets.
Giggling in the front pew at the priest’s Carry On voice.
Carry her off. Charles Hawtry in a dog collar.
Her dog was called Major, toothless and blind,
never young, born ancient from a peat bog on the moors,
slobbering benignly through lupins, pollinating with his muzzle,
not dog but lithograph, a pissing, panting warning from history.
Did he outlive her or go down in the box? Drool on the lid,
black mill sinking like The House of Usher, in the swamp of his pelt.
I can’t recall how many times I had tonsillitis, how many mornings
with a gauntlet of box grater reaching down my gullet,
pokey trips on single-decker buses to the doctor,
days off school, days daydreaming, unable to swallow,
each morsel a sculpture by Brâncuși. I hadn’t heard of Brâncuși.
Brâncuși had never heard of me, but I mouthed him.
There are Romanian sculptures in Victoria Park, pearl of the East End,
pandemic lifesaver, great green Borzoi head lapping up the Regent’s Canal,
the opposite of Tantalus — drowning in the stuff.
Strutting caged-straw ornithoids, straw-man arguments hooked on opioids,
they’re picked apart for nests by coots and moorhens, Egyptians and greylags,
philthy philistines fowling the water, turning culture into crucibles of shit.
Ah well, they incubate eggs of sanity, double yolkers of hope.
I also mouthed 11 aspirins at 11.
Mark Goodwin is a poet-sound-artist, fiction-maker & re-thinker who speaks and writes in differing ways. He has books & chapbooks with various poetry houses, including The Hedgehog Poetry Press, Intergraphia, Leafe Press, Longbarrow Press & Shearsman Books.
Note on ‘A Myriad of Poets’ Children & Taboo’:
“The Leicester/Lear connection was in the first draft... Later I deepened the Shakespearian connection with the ( Cordelias & Ophelias ). The poem is from ‘The Paper Apple Prophecy’, part of my unpublished book Hat Apple & Leaves. All of Hat Apple & Leaves’ poems have strong myth/legend links, and this poem talks with the others, but wags its tongue towards inscription – the written-down word-doors that lead beyond...”
Harry Man is a poet whose work has appeared in The Rialto, New Welsh Review and Poetry Digest among other places. He lives and writes in County Durham, where he spends much of his time guarding dinosaur-proof doorknobs while everyone else searches the house for a T-Rex holding a box of treasure. It’s all right though, Mum’s with them and they’ll be back next Friday. His first collection Popular Song is forthcoming from Nine Arches Press. You can find more of his work at www.manmadebooks.co.uk
Note on extract from ‘Yes and Hello’:
“Darcie Essex-Hill’s work engages with contradictory tensions of explicit (humour) and implicit (pathos) serialist dialogues, the antithetical conception of amorphous viable futilities with reference to engineering (both integrated traffic, rocket and genetic) as well as non-specific (aspecific) oceanography and scatology and how both pertain to interactions with positive magnitude door handle rotation design and anthropogenically-induced R50 food web collapse and depopulation, but I had to sort of figure this bit out while she was drawing giant red blobs of what was apparently my poo and giggling hysterically.”
Michał Kamil Piotrowski
Michał Kamil Piotrowski is a visual poet, text artist, and curator living and working in Folkestone, UK. He mostly writes experimental, visual, and technology-powered poetry. He enjoys making interactive poetry. The themes he explores are technology, politics, and mental illnesses.
Note on ‘Exercise 1’:
“I’m a foreign language teacher and a lot of vocabulary exercises look like my poem does – you are meant to find the right word and fill in the blanks. I wanted to poetically hijack this form of exercise and use it to create interactive poetry where the reader is allowed to modify the poem in any way they want.”
Andrew Wells is a writer and coeditor of HVTN Press. His work has appeared in SAND Journal, Poetry Wales, The London Magazine, The Rialto, and others.
Note on extract from ‘Everything Nearly’:
“‘Everything Nearly’ is a long poem framed by two epigraphs: “Love letters begin with ‘I’ but they aspire to ‘we’. But ‘we’ is seldom a storyteller” – Joanna Walsh; and “even if he says everything, he need only keep silent on one single thing for it to be concluded that he hasn’t spoken” – Jacques Derrida (Whom to Give To). I listened to lots of Laurie Anderson, too.”
Author of several collections of poetry, including Los Alamos Mon Amour, Bonjour Tetris, Neptune Blue, Sunspots and Iarnród Éireann. Divine Hours, from Broken Sleep Books, is out in 2024. Currently working on fiction.
Note on extract from ‘Comet in Ripperland’:
“This long poem-in-progress is a spiritual and formal sequel to my long poem, Iarnród Éireann (Broken Sleep Books 2021). Like the earlier poem, it takes elements of autobiography and historical truth and pushes them, along with the language, into playful and feverish realms where truth and fiction intensify. It might well be the middle pillar of a trilogy.”
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