Mademoiselle Mal Chance
A secret of eyelashes;
a daisy dipped in pitch;
a delicate brooch
pinned to the side of the tub ―
until I approach
with my plundering streams,
my inveigling finger:
Where is your fine lifeline, spider?
Where are your eight water wings?
You sprawl, a legless gamine.
I share a hot bath with your corpse.
It clings to my skin like a mole.
My mascara runs in the steam.
The Angel of Anarchy
after the bust by Eileen Agar
The night you wrapped my head
in a Wake knot of silk scarves,
clipped chains around my thighs,
pressed your cheek against the feather
inked into my breast —
that night I almost felt your breath
warmly puzzling my flesh.
You could have been a robber,
an artist, or a god. But from your smell
of pepper, mixed with baby mouse,
I sensed that who I was
beneath the mask, and why I stayed
a pinioned herald on your bed,
you were too afraid to ask.
Miss Dickinson Regrets
Blandishments and tourniquets
won’t stem the Surgeon’s gash —
I left my Ribcage on the Beach,
my brain Pan in the wash.
My Heart I folded in a cloth,
and placed it in a Basin,
with my Skin I stitched a cloak —
no Sleeves to slip your Ace in.
I left my Flesh so far behind
your Love to forage for…
Now, with ancient Teeth I munch
Starry porridge raw.
My face remains in Lockets
you lost inside a drawer.
Be careful turning back your Clocks —
inside their slow, infernal Works
I spat one sharpened Claw.
Your Summer Arm
Was it an odd sort of cricket
climbing my oak dresser? No ―
an emerald shield bug, you said,
watching as I tried to slide
a piece of A4 paper
beneath its crooked legs.
When a foot caught, and tore,
I thought we both might cry.
Where is grass to comfort that green?
Those sweet, young shoots
I slipped from their sheaths
and chewed with wobbly teeth?
Now, as we curl into bed,
outside in the whistling damp
the husk I dismembered today
begins to decay in the leaves.
This whirring of thoughts,
rustle of pages,
mean nothing to you
Your breathing is so quiet,
I’d hardly know you were there
if it wasn’t for the glowing limb
buried in my hair.
from The Night Pavilion (Waterloo Press, 2008),
a Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Carol Rumens blogs about ‘Your Summer Arm’.
“Truly original new work in verse and prose, as well as some adventurous, idiomatic translations, unsettle complacency and challenge expectations. Ostentatious, flirtatious, sometimes witty, technically ambitious and expansively sensuous, these poems push boundaries of form, genre and manner. At the same time they are highly approachable. Discerning readers will be delighted to discover a poet whose work is innovative but far from obscure, entertaining but never escapist.”
– Carol Rumens
“Naomi Foyle’s The Night Pavilion, her superb and startling first collection, glories in “needles, nettles, splinters” but it is the hard forms of those unlovely things, as much as their power to sting, which she celebrates. For all their mastery of form, these are poems that prowl, poems with whiskers, alert to “the tender tips of words.” She has an eye, and a nose, for unseemly contrasts—not only “cock” and “cunt” but the sexiest “crop circles” on record—and yet, out of these rude collisions a difficult beauty takes shape … Even so, just when you begin to think that Foyle is a lineal descendant of the Three Weird Sisters, all packed into one “pink hovel” of a mouth, you detect the sadness beneath the fierce aplomb.”
– Eric Ormsby
“No stranger to the intricacies of pain or the mystery of pleasure, in which both men and women are ‘blindfolded’ and bound – whether in ballads or prose poems – Naomi Foyle writes with elegance and wit, while never pulling any punches.”
– Maria Jastrzębska
Read more about Naomi Foyle and The Night Pavilion.
Order The Night Pavilion.