Tag Archives: Comma Press

Looking forward

Here are a few anthologies and collections that I’m looking forward to reading in 2011.
What should I add to my list?
Being Human, edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
Catulla et al, Tiffany Atkinson (Bloodaxe)
Neptune Blue, Simon Barraclough (Salt)
The Tempest Prognosticator, Isobel Dixon (Salt)
Egg Printing Explained, Katy Evans-Bush (Salt)
Occasional China, Gaia Holmes (Comma Press)
Rubber Orchestras, Anthony Joseph (Salt)
The Book of Men, Dorianne Laux (W W Norton)
The Best British Poetry 2011, edited by Roddy Lumsden (Salt)
The Frost Fairs, John McCullough (Salt)
The Exile’s House, Ian Parks (Waterloo Press)
Emporium, Ian Pindar (Carcanet)
Changeling, Clare Pollard (Bloodaxe)
Breaking Silence, Jacob Sam-La Rose (Bloodaxe)
The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions, Jacqueline Saphra
(Flipped Eye)
The Itchy Sea, Mark Waldron (Salt)
Confer, Ahren Warner (Bloodaxe)
Electric Shadow, Heidi Williamson (Bloodaxe)
House of Tongues, Susan Wicks (Bloodaxe)
The City with Horns, Tamar Yoseloff (Salt)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Desires’

Gaia Holmes

We keep our desires
in small cast-iron boxes
with impenetrable locks,
carry them with us
wherever we go
and they weigh us down,
make our hearts feel
like toothache.
Sometimes sounds creep
through the metal:
bird song, slow ferns uncurling,
rain on greenhouse glass.
when we’re not concentrating
scents slip out
of the miniscule cracks:
crushed orange peel,
fevers and hot summer skin.
Sometimes our desires
are beyond our control,
they make whirlwinds
in their prisons,
rock their boxes,
scream for honey
and fingertips.
We try to ignore them,
blush and fidget,
smother them with our coats
and talk about maths.
Sometimes we’re cruel,
we fill the bath
and hold them under water
until they stop babbling,
deprive them of our dreams.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Night’

Gaia Holmes
The bedroom window is open.
The coldness of the coming storm
masks the thick scent
of last night’s love.
The moon is low
and I am thin as tracing paper,
nothing left but my outline.
My head is full of voodoo,
my frail breath
like brittle oranges,
and you lie on the bed
in your crucifixion pose.
My task is to keep you alive
with the voltage
of my yew-tipped fingers,
to make you cry like a new born.
The dome of the mosque
glints at me across the rooftops
like a fat and mystic eye.
Outside, children crazy on the electric
dance in a trance,
heels thumping, hair streaming,
plastic sandals flapping on warm tarmac.
Tonight the world is full of sprites.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Desert Island Discs
Gaia Holmes
Downing coffee like whisky at a funeral wake,
me, the dog and Desert Island Discs.
I’m marooned at this sixteen-acre table
eating toast that fills my mouth
with the whole of the Sahara,
remembering the legend of breakfast in bed.
Passion is a bright parrot you occasionally pull out,
me – I’m a slave to the cause,
a constellation thief,
throat ripped to fuck from swallowing stars,
dying to shine like Venus, like Pluto, like Mars,
like the big bright planet that I’m not.
I want a light show every morning,
a gala in the yard,
fat cherubs blessing each corner of our bed,
a rain of petals blushing on the skylight.
I want your commitments sculpted out of cumulus
and written in the sky.
I want a sonnet of your devotions
tattooed onto my spine in gold leaf.
Maybe I’m asking too much.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Carne’

Gaia Holmes

The wheels screech a death rattle
on the Spanish road.
There are gaudy billboards
wedged into the mountains:
matadors hold red flags
like open wounds,
the corporeal sunset
drips over the crusty horizon
and poppies are scabs
on the dry hard shoulder.
Remember this without blood.
Forget the ice packed vows,
the nun-lipped silence,
the long prison sentence
of the tongue,
the captivity of lips
and fingertips,
the deep-frozen laughter.
In the back seat my head hums
with the drone of petrol.
A bag full of meat
reeks and squelches at my feet
and I slip into a rhythmic nightmare
where the sharp eyed waitress
points to her ribs
and says, “Carne, carne!!”
where the swarthy men
eye my thighs for a stew,
where you find bones
in my suitcase.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Gaia Holmes’s ‘Postcard’

Gaia Holmes

I will tell you
of the long, pale nights
and the lullaby of Curlews,
the sweet and salty winds
of Hoy and Papa Stronsay.
I will tell you
of the lime and peacock light
of the Aurora Borealis,
the early whispers of tide
tickling the gravel.
I will tell you
of the soft floss of Sea-thrift
blushing in the shingle
and the Rosa Rugosa
that frames the road.
I will not tell you
of the rotting seals that reek
in the first breeze of dawn,
the sour gales that pucker
the skin of the Isle.
I will not tell you
of the grey deadpan days
when the Redshanks
shriek their warning
and black magic
licks the shoreline.
I will not tell you
of my fear of stirring the tea
the wrong way,
my fear as I lay awake
feeling the rank mill dam
creep closer and closer.
I will not tell you
that I miss you.
I want to come home
and this North Sea brine
is rusting my heart.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

Read more about Gaia and her collection, Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bedhere.