Tag Archives: HappenStance

Kirsten Irving’s What To Do

  
 
 
Kirsten Irving is one half of the team behind hand-made magazine Fuselit and collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books. Her first full collection, Never Never Never Come Back, is due to be released by Salt in 2012.
 
 
 
 

   
 
 
This pamphlet is full of characters in trouble. The energy that drives the poems won’t settle for resolution, only the sense that however bizarre the action or injury, it has you by the throat and isn’t letting go. This is, as they say, something else.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Nancy Archer steps out
 
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
          Aristotle
 
 
Dreading my period. It’ll be more of a plague
than ever. But more than this
I dread putting my bubblecar eye
to the window of the club where I know you sit
 
in love, or joined by something stickier than the floor.
Honey and honey, I want my shot
but if I take my thumb and dash your heads
into the Bacharach-piping jukebox
or stake you with a huge incisor
and write liars in your combined juices,
it will be a half-cough of revenge, the kind
that doesn’t quite clear the throat.
 
That’s not to say I won’t.
The moon’s a thumbnail. Guess
I’ll sit on the bar stool of the cooling tower
until I work out
what to do with myself.
 
 
 
 
Note
 
‘Nancy Archer steps out’: Nancy Archer, for sci-fi film abstainers, is the cuckolded eponymous heroine of Attack of the 50 ft Woman. She uses her new size and power to seek revenge against her philandering husband and his mistress, Honey Parker.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Meanwhile, down in the town, the good people
drink on

 
The gypsy on the hill is jabbering jelly again,
turfing slugs of words from his mouth, none of them
real words. You’d think that, working here, he’d try to learn.
 
Their ale is moreish, edged with honey and cardamom.
Never mind that me and my stone and my greying sling
are up here losing to a storey-high golem,
 
to Monday’s metal dinosaur, his chrome tongue
a poison whip, his tail a razor rattle,
to the mid-week spectre of my dead darling
 
who sucks at my neck, lisping for the blowhole
of my life force, whose own force
is close to crushing this little foreign skull.
 
The townsmen swig, while tengu swarm the rough grass,
while hags, their faces thick with poisoned hair
come snapping, scuttling like gigantic roaches
 
towards the beard of sheep, sheep unaware
that an army that could help them helps itself,
while their skinny page flings pebbles at the air.
 
Folk toss tales round the inn, each mouth a gulf
that takes in booze and mocks the foreign kook,
and me, I only know their word for wolf
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Laura
 
Tell her, as you scramble from the lorry,
as she tries to slam the door, that you may be a liar
but you need her—her—to rule
your body, that you didn’t just roll
from a musty pit and oral
straight here. You’re short on allure,
so stomp around the garden like Lear.
Clown for her, rail
against the idiot you were, the lore
of your mistakes, the Erroll
double you left in his lair,
feral, tight, chest like a rough-strung lyre.
With your last reserves, tell her this: Your areolae
soft, hairless, your wet moss. I really think, Laura,
that you can save me. This, all this: it’s not real.
 
 
 
 
from What To Do (HappenStance, 2011).
 
Order What To Do.
 
Visit Sidekick Books.
 
Visit Fuselit.

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Three


 
Liz Gallagher
 
The Missing by Siân Hughes (Salt Modern Poets)
Tolstoy in Love by Ray Givans (Dedalus Press)
In the Voice of a Minor Saint by Sarah J. Sloat (Tilt Press)
 
 
Pamela Mordecai
 
Naming the Mannequins by Nic Labriola (Insomniac Press)
Fierce Departures: The Poetry of Dionne Brand, with
an introduction by L. C.  Sanders (Wilfred Laurie University Press)
Hope’s Hospice and Other Poems by Kwame Dawes
(Peepal Tree Press)
 
 
Andrea Porter
 
The Burning of the Books by George Szirtes (Bloodaxe Books)
The Ambulance Box by Andrew Philip (Salt Modern Poets)
Faber New Poets: Fiona Benson (Faber & Faber)
 
 
Carrie Etter
 
Elsa Cross: Selected Poems, edited by Tony Frazer
(Shearsman Books)
Assorted Poems by Susan Wheeler (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The Clockwork Gift by Claire Crowther (Shearsman Books)
  
  
Ann Drysdale
 
Darwin’s Microscope by Kelley Swain (Flambard Press)
No Panic Here by Mark Halliday (HappenStance)
Missing the Eclipse by Joan Hewitt (Cinnamon Press)
 
 
Sascha Aurora Aktar
 
Bird Head Son by Anthony Joseph (Salt Modern Poets)
Poetry State Forest by Bernadette Mayer (New Directions)
Orphaned Latitudes by Gérard Rudolf (Red Squirrel Press)
 
 
Giles Goodland
 
Darwin by Tony Lopez (Acts of Language)
The Summer of Agios Dimitrios by Peter Hughes
(Shearsman Books)
Undraining Sea by Vahni Capildeo (Egg Box Publishing)
 
 
Catherine Daly
 
luce a cavallo by Therese Bachand (Green Integer Press)
The Last 4 Things by Kate Greenstreet (Ahsahta Press)
Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988 – 2008 by Norma Cole
(City Lights Books)
 
 
Tim Wells
 
Caligula on Ice and Other Poems by Tim Turnbull (Donut Press)
Poemland by Chelsey Minnis (Wave Books)
City State: New London Poetry, edited by Tom Chivers
(Penned in the Margins)
 
 
Jacqueline Saphra
 
West End Final by Hugo Williams (Faber & Faber)
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Farewell My Lovely by Polly Clark (Bloodaxe Books)
 
 
Sophie Mayer
 
Undraining Sea by Vahni Capildeo (Egg Box Publishing)
The Son by Carrie Etter (Oystercatcher)
The ms of m y kin by Janet Holmes (Shearsman Books)
Cold Spring in Winter by Valérie Rouzeau, translated
by Susan Wicks (Arc Publications)
The Joshua Tales by Andra Simons (Treehouse Press)
 
 
Katy Lederer
 
Free Cell by Anselm Berrigan (City Lights Books)
Delivered by Sarah Gambito (Persea Books)
The King by Rebecca Wolff (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Alison Brackenbury’s ‘Bookkeeping’

Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury

   
Alison Brackenbury was born in Lincolnshire in 1953. She now lives in Gloucestershire, where she has worked for almost twenty years in the family metal finishing business. Her work has appeared in over fifty anthologies and has won an Eric Gregory Award and a Cholmondeley Award. She has recently scripted three programmes for BBC Radio 3, including Singing in the Dark, a celebration of the stubborn survival of traditional song: ‘Evocative, amusing, and utterly compelling’, Radio Times Choice. Her latest collection is Singing in the Dark (Carcanet, 2008). ‘A quiet lyricism and delight’, The Guardian ‘Mellifluous art’, Poetry Review, ‘Grace and authenticity’, Poetry London. New poems can be read at her site. Visit Alison’s Carcanet author page.
  
  
Bookkeeping
Alison Brackenbury

 
These are not (you understand) the figures
which send cold judgement into the backbone
which leave us, workless, shrunk at home
staring in a sky grown black with leaves.
 
These are like the ticking of a clock,
the daily sums, a van’s new brakes,
three drums of trichloroethylene on the back
of a thrumming lorry; yet they take
a day to make: thin bars of figures. While
I try to balance them, light scurries round
like a glad squirrel. Radio music stales –
until shut off.
  
What’s left when it is done,
the green book closed? There is no sea to swim
no mouth to kiss. Even the light is gone.
Bookkeepers drink over-sugared tea
lie in dark rooms; are always hunched and tired.
  
Where I stretch up the low bulb burns and whirls.
And in it, I see him. The dusky gold wing folds
across his face. The feathers’ sharp tips smudge
his margins.
  
Sunk, in his own shadows, deep
in scattered ledgers of our petty sins:
he, the tireless angel:
Unaccountably, he sleeps.
  
  
Published in Alison Brackenbury’s Selected Poems (Carcanet, 1991).
  
Read an interview with Alison published in Iota.
  
Order Alison’s latest collection, Singing in the Dark (Carcanet, 2008).
  
Order Alison’s latest pamphlet, Shadow (HappenStance, 2009).