Mark Waldron’s The Itchy Sea


Mark Waldron’s first book, The Brand New Dark was published by Salt Publishing in 2008. His work appears in Identity Parade, New British and Irish Poets published by Bloodaxe in 2010. He lives in east London with his wife and son.


The Itchy Sea (Salt Publishing, 2011) is an extraordinarily vivid collection of poems which are, above all, entertaining. The poems each have a kind of freshness and cut-through that will hold the reader’s attention in a world that’s full of dazzling distractions. They are a protest against the well-founded idea that poetry has to be dull. Their concerns are sex, death, the soul and a chocolate car. Beneath their shiny surfaces they are an intense but carefree therapy session for all our infantile ids.”
Were I to jump
or to fall, or were I pushed to my death
from a high window of an apartment block,
or from the edge of a cliff,
then, at the end of that fall, the ground will act
like a sieve, keeping my flesh and bones to itself,
as well as my clothing and any other belongings
which I may have about me,
such as my keys, coins and wristwatch,
while my soul (which I am riddled with)
will continue its downward journey for a little distance
(perhaps for a metre or so, depending on the height
of the preceding drop).
And then, relieved of its hot nest,
it will wear on its face the most abject expression,
not that of the exposed oyster as it’s sucked, sobbing
from its shell, but rather,
that which the fledgling wears underneath its feathers,
when it takes its flapping plunge into maturity.
Some Time Afterwards
Perhaps it was a sense he had
of missing something which made him realise
he’d handed her a weightless ball
of complicated moving light,
which looked, admittedly, very like
a special effect from that period.
It was of a size that would slip perfectly
into her palm (every slip is Freudian),
and when she looked down it lit her face
in a way that was reminiscent of a scene in a film.
The rest of the world’s light seemed then,
and still seems now, unaffected by what he did.
There is so much that is real,
such an abundance of it, that a tiny piece
of innocent spell like this is sanctioned
by the usually stern laws that govern things.
Everyone, even I, turned away
so he could give her his glowing, analogous stone.
Make Use of My Poem in Any Way You Like
Make an origami goose. Cut fine holes for the light
to glint through. Fabricate a paper chain of convivial men.
Make a dart, or a hat for a biggish bird or a cat.
Doodle freely in the margins if you will. Go ahead, jot
little notes on the more salient passages, cross-referencing
them with passages in other works of mine, picking up
on themes maybe, and noting how respectfully,
as well as snugly, it slips into a long-held-vacant slot
in the wider canon. (Notice, by-the-way how it somehow
seems to soften its important neighbours with an easy,
self-deprecating charm.). Make copies of it. Feel free.
Hand them out to special friends, maybe fold and slip them
into their shirt pockets saying something simple
and mysterious like, Check it out. Deconstruct it, help yourself.
Take it apart piece by polished piece, to see how it works,
to watch the keen little engine spin, lit with innocent heat.
The Porcelain Dog
The porcelain dog,
despite his unruffled exterior,
despite his apparent serenity,
suffocates for want inside
his tight and glossy bag of glaze,
and so it is with me,
beneath this painted sack
that is my cloak of visibility.
from The Itchy Sea (Salt Publishing, 2011).

Order The Itchy Sea.

Read more about The Itchy Sea here and here.

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