Simon Barraclough was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, but has lived in London since 1996. He won the poetry section of the London Writers’ Prize in 2000 and his debut, Los Alamos Mon Amour (Salt Publishing) was a finalist for the Best First Collection in the Forward Poetry Prizes 2008. In 2010 he published a boxed ‘mini-book’ of commissioned poems, Bonjour Tetris (Penned in the Margins). His work appears in the anthologies Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, 2010) and Poems for Love (Penguin, 2009). In 2010 he devised Psycho Poetica, a collaborative celebration of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which was performed at the BFI, The Whitechapel Gallery, Latitude Festival and the Royal Festival Hall.
“Simon Barraclough dazzles with his luscious iconography, his intriguing observations, obsessions and predilections. These poems are complex, acrobatic, inventive, intelligent, exuberant, funny, tender and … bloody marvellous.”
– Annie Freud
“I read it as though I’m reading a phrase book from a new country called Barraclough, a country we should all discover. An excellent book.”
– Ian McMillan
We’ll Always Have CGI Paris
Open on the galaxy, dolly zoom
through Doppler shifting stars, leave the local planets
in our wake, brush off the moon
and rummage through the clouds to find
the crouching continent where Paris piggybacks.
Pinpoint the pyramid, dogleg along the Seine
until the camera starts to weave between the struts
of youknowwhat and youknowwhere
to finish on us kissing in the festive, fireworky air.
But we were never there. My sitcom kept me
in LA, your slasher movie debut
saw you junketing in hotel rooms out east.
We shot green screen on different days: my face
a balloon taped to a broom, your waist a tailor’s dummy;
our foggy breath was lifted from Titanic;
the cutaways to clasping hands were cut in
from a jewellery ad as all of Paris waited
to be pixellated, cut and pasted.
But we’ll always have Paris,
although our eye lines never matched
and everything we tried to hold onto
our phantom fingers passed clean through.
Solar system’s undisputed supermodel,
moon-mad, sixty satellites and counting,
Saturnine werewolves howling for a night off.
Snapped from every angle
by NASA’s paparazzi,
it’s well you have no flaws for the gawpers.
We gorge on your gorgeousnes
but there’s icy music buried
in your spiralling grooves.
They sent a crew in a Bakelite spaceship,
the Anglo-Russian Dansette Conquest,
to lower a stylus onto your discs
and ever since they’ve been gliding
towards your spindle, listening
to ‘Cruel Sun’, ‘Box of Stars’, ‘Chaos of the Galaxy’.
i.m. Mark Linkous
Squat ellipsoid of dough.
Yeasty, pummelled, elastic.
You knuckle into it,
it takes the dimpled kneading
of your need,
you twirl it thin and wide, ridiculous dervish.
Into the fire with it.
Et ellu é bellu e radiante cun grande splendore
— St. Francis of Assisi, Cantico delle Creature
I heard of one who thought himself too much i’the Sun.
I had to laugh. And blast a billion lethal particles
across your path. You say you want your place in the Sun,
so be it, but know that I am Heaven and Hell in one,
your saintly haloes and your branding tongs,
an inquisition which no atom can resist,
a thirteen million Kelvin kiss. I must admit
I’m one that loved not wisely but too well.
Consider my poor off sprung offspring;
there’s one that’s just been taken into care;
two cold and gassy monsters so remote they never think
of picking up the phone or sending me a probe;
a starlet sucking up my limelight, barring me from all her shows;
a bully bending comets on his knee and tossing them my way;
a red-faced tin pot despot sulking in his rot;
a hellish vixen boiling off each residue of love;
an iron bullet—kryptonite to any star—poised above my heart.
But here she comes: my one success, the fertile fluke,
dreaming in her just-right, just-so, bed,
her arm thrown back across her brow.
I mustn’t get too close. I mustn’t be so ardent.
I’ll learn to keep my distance, for now.
from Neptune Blue (Salt Publishing, 2011).
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