Patrick Chapman’s The Darwin Vampires

  
 
Patrick Chapman was born in 1968. The Darwin Vampires (Salmon Poetry, 2010) is his fifth collection, following Jazztown (Raven Arts Press, Dublin, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon Poetry, Co. Clare, 1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (Salmon Poetry, 2007) and A Shopping Mall on Mars (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2008). His book of short stories is The Wow Signal (Bluechrome, UK, 2007).
 
Also a scriptwriter, he adapted his own published story for Burning the Bed (2003). Directed by Denis McArdle, this award-winning film stars Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen. Chapman has written several episodes of the Cbeebies and RTÉ series Garth & Bev (Kavaleer, 2009/10). His audio play, Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks (Big Finish, UK, 2007), was directed by Mark J. Thompson. It stars Wendy Padbury as Zoe and Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks.
 
With Philip Casey, he founded the Irish Literary Revival website in 2006. This brings out-of-print books of Irish interest back into circulation online, with the consent and participation of the authors.
 
Chapman has been a finalist twice in the Sunday Tribune Hennessy Literary Awards. His story ‘A Ghost’ won first prize in the Cinescape Genre Literary Competition in L.A. The title poem of The Darwin Vampires was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 
 
 
 

  
 
The Darwin Vampires, Patrick Chapman’s fifth collection, draws on life as much as on imagination, candidly exploring themes of memory, death, fractured love, and the strangeness of the world. From the Pushcart Prize nominated title poem, through wistful elegies for lost childhood innocence, to the final, affecting sequence on mortality, The Darwin Vampires is an addictive and immersive experience.
 
 
 
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“Chapman’s writing credits range from poetry and fiction to radio and television scripts. He co-founded the Irish Literary Revival Website in 2006, which makes available out-of-print books by Irish authors. Perhaps he may be seen principally as a poet as this is his fifth collection. The first was in 1991 and the fourth in 2008. The title poem and others like ‘Saint Dracula’, ‘Oubliette’ and ‘Funeral Song’ give this collection a Gothic feel and some of the poems have a melancholy theme like the loss of childhood, death and unhappy love. Indeed the overall tone is one of sadness and anger. In many of the poems Chapman explores personal relationships but in others, like ‘Oubliette’, he addresses issues in the wider world. These poems lack the whimsy self-indulgence that is the hallmark of much modern poetry but they have a genuine emotional grip that can be disturbing.”
 
Books Ireland (February 2011)
 
 
 
*
 
 
The Darwin Vampires
 
for Catherine
 
 
Being loth to sink in at your neck, they prefer to drink
Between your toes. They revel in the feet; they especially
Enjoy those places in between, where microbial kingdoms,
Overthrown with a pessary, render needle-toothed
Injuries invisible; where any trace of ingress, lost in the fold,
 
Is conspicuous – as they themselves in daylight are –
By its absence. You will hardly notice that small
Sting; might not miss a drop until the moment
That the very last is drained. And when you’re six
Beneath the topsoil, you will never rise to join them.
 
Rather, you will be a hint; a fluctuating butterfly;
A taste-regret on someone’s tongue; a sudden tinted
Droplet in the iris of a fading smile; a blush upon
A woman’s rose; a broken vein in someone’s eyelid –
Always one degree below what’s needed to be warm.
 
 
 
*
 
 
  
Gloria Mundi
 
In that recurring future memory,
I push out from the capsule’s
Open hatch – my Mercury
Recalling Alan Shepard’s.
Snug within a pressure suit,
I’m paid out on the tether line
That tautens until, breaking
Tensile limits, it whips free,
Unleashing an infinity
In which I feel no terror.
Rather, lost in wonder at the sky,
I find a liberation in accepting
That I’ll die out here.
There’s nowhere I would rather die.
Moreover, beatifically
Mislaid between the moon
And Cape Canaveral,
I revel in being utterly alone,
Elated in my weightlessness –
The last breath in my lungs expelled
To hush a fragile wisp
From that frail atmosphere
Of bygone Earth above where
Nature ever dared to blow.
The flower of an astral ghost,
My final exhalation, leaves
A shrinking mist upon the glass.
Embalmed by space and gliding
Out of orbit, now descending
To cremation-by-re-entry –
I desire within my reverie
To settle on the solar wind,
And float serenely far beyond Centauri.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Junky
 
I had known that when I got to thirty-two,
     In the year of the millennium,
          We would all have flying cars.
 
          In a corner of the bedroom
          He pulled back the linoleum,
          Discovered the controls of a rocket
          And became again that five-year-old
          Working with crayons.
  
We’d float in sky hotels the shape of wheels;
     Or live in giant city-domes
          Protected by a shield from meteorites.
 
          Constructing a spacecraft
          To carry him up there,
          Far above the clouds,
          The boy had drawn buttons,
          A viewscreen, a joystick,
          Shaded in orange and purple and black.
          Everything worked.
 
We’d all pop pills instead of dinner –
     But there would always be ice cream;
          They’d be selling Klondikes on the moon.
 
          Eventually forgotten,
          That homemade control room:
          As years counted down, it became
          A fossil record of the future,
          Its cargo of notions adrift,
          The rocketship lost under lino,
          Wrecked on the coral of spacetime.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
You Murder the Sun
 
You murder Tchaikovsky. You used to love
His Violin Concerto in D, the Kennedy version.
Something in Pyotr’s martyrdom appealed to you.
His final symphony you loved as well, felt his use
Of Pathétique was anything but modesty.
  
You murder Rhapsody in Blue.
You murder Manhattan.
You murder Woody Allen.
 
You murder the epsilon at work
Who sniped that he had never met anyone
Quite as incontinent as you.
He had meant to say ‘incompetent’.
 
You murder every grain of sand.
You murder every particle of water in the sea.
You murder every tree in the park.
 
You murder all the clouds
That ever passed above your head,
Telling you of elephants and Russia.
 
You murder dark matter.
You murder the moon.
You murder Australia.
 
You murder the night you made love
In a lightstorm with Y.,
Daring the bolts to incinerate you both.
When you lived, you promised that next time
You would do without the lightning.
That would show it.
 
You murder the sunshine that made G.’s wedding day
Angelic as A Convent Garden, Brittany.
 
You murder William Leech.
You murder the sun.
You murder all weddings.
 
You murder all funerals.
You murder the ones who went before
And showed you how it’s done.
 
You murder the old tourist who,
Over mojitos in Bar St Germain,
Let slip that one fall afternoon as a girl,
She trained the neighbours’ Labrador
To lap her up
Into a perfect, frothing O.
 
You murder the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
You murder the teleportation of quantum states.
You murder the Sombrero galaxy.
 
You murder the Neopolitan assault of pleasure
When you put anchovies, capers and green olives
In the same mouth at the same time.
 
You murder A Death in the Family.
You murder Nineteen Eighty-Four.
You murder I Am Legend.
 
You murder your surprise at the Olympia when S.,
Returning from the ladies’ room post-interval,
Found herself caught up in the stageward procession
Of the Polyphonic Spree.
 
You murder the Golden Gate Bridge in 1995.
You murder the Piazza del Campo in 1996.
You murder Port El Kantaoui in 1998.
 
You murder the receptors in your memory flesh,
Each existing now
Only for the loss it represents –
Time and place
Translated into chemicals.
 
                                                      At random:
 
Someone you had loved,
Split off into another life,
 
A universe
You know nothing about.
 
All you have is the recording.
You murder even that.
 
Time for the two of you
Stopped.
 
It stopped everything happening
At once.
 
Time.
You murder time.
 
It is all you can do
To kill it before it kills you.
 
 
 
*
  
  
   
Manila Hemp
 
If I had been you –
 
I’d have checked the trapdoor and release
For proper operation. I’d have
Soaked and stretched the rope
To rule out spring or coiling. I’d have
Oiled the hangman’s knot
For smoother sliding.
 
Tied around a grommet and a bracket,
The rope prepared to take the sudden
Weight and force of someone’s fall;
Measurements, examinations, aiding
In avoiding strangulation or
Beheading –
 
That is how I would have done it.
 
But you were never me
And when you did it, you had no
Technique; you’d no finesse.
 
Your drop continued, feet-first, into
Other people’s lives and through them,
Leaving exit wounds.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Anaphylaxis
 
Solitude, like water, was something he decided
He needed more of but when he went in search of it,
He discovered that, like potable water, there seemed to be
Less of it about, as though there’d been a convention
Of thirsty hermits in the vicinity of his home and
They’d bottled all the silence. So he drove to the beach
At midnight, found the remains of jellyfish, alien ghosts,
An apocalypse of invertebrates, whose stings lay in wait
For him to make contact. He saw no people in this place
Where one time, naked hundreds had posed for photographs,
Some drunk and freezing pink in the Irish summer dawn.
He considered walking in the water in the dark, diluting
Himself like a poison on its current, out past the buoys.
By the time he got to Portishead, full of brine and tangled
Up in random junk from some rich waster’s luxury island,
He would himself be jetsam. But the sea was crowded too.
And looking out into the galaxy, he found no reassurance:
Every place was full. Even all the dark between the stars
Was matter now, not vacuum; trillions unlike anything
He could begin to contemplate lived there. It was no good.
He look off both his shoes – and stepped into a jellyfish.
 
 
 
from The Darwin Vampires (Salmon Poetry, 2010).
 
Order The Darwin Vampires.
 
Visit Patrick’s website.
 
 

One thought on “Patrick Chapman’s The Darwin Vampires

  1. Sue Guiney

    I love Patrick’s work. I’ve been a fan since the old Bluechrome days when we discussed collaborating someday. Maybe it will still happen. But it’s great to read his stuff again and see he has a new collection out. thanks!

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