Tag Archives: Nine Arches Press poetry pamphlets

Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…

Deborah Tyler-Bennett by Francis O'Donnell Smith

   
  
Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s current collection is Pavilion (Smokestack, 2010), set in Brighton, her first was Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England, 2003), selected poems are in Take Five (Shoestring, 2003), and a new collection, Revudeville, has been published by King’s England. First poems from Anglo-Punk (sonnet sequences on Regency dandy Beau Brummell) have been published. Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…, a chapbook collection of three portraits in poems is published by Nine Arches Press. Many of Deborah’s poems are influenced by vintage fashion which she collects and wears.
 
 
 

  
  
“Deborah Tyler-Bennett draws together three memorable and inimitable portraits of notable (if not always noted) lives in Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…. The resulting poems, bristling with Tyler-Bennett’s subtle and laconic style, go beyond renderings of lives past, anecdotes told, and look instead to explore the gaps in the biographies, the real people behind the characters.”
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
“With an eye out for the singular, the wayward, the eccentric and, at times, the downright mad, Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s poetry portraits channel three very different lives and histories, whilst seeking out the faint echoes of these lives in the present. From the bear-riding Mango ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton’s attempts to cure hiccups by means of self-immolation, to balladeer Jimmy Dyer’s lonely wanderings with his fiddle, to poignant glimpses of her great grandfather Billy Gibson’s old age, these are poems that get to the essential solitude of human existence as they trace the lines of their subjects’ strange passions.”
 
– Will Buckingham
 
  
  
*
  
 
 
Death of the Popular English Print
 
 
No more ‘Mytton Rides a Bear’,
‘To Hounds’, ‘On Fire’
(mad cure for hiccups),
frames fit only for the byre.
 
Annals listing bad behaviour
(and extreme) deny entry
to vanquished squirearchy.
Chilled, standing sentry
 
those who dreaded invites,
Parson wibbling on –
something about sins cleansed,
carved heaven won.
 
Print-maker’s lament,
subject dust-bound,
shunned visitors received,
now cold in ground.
 
No more ‘Mytton Set Alight’,
‘With Hounds’ … New gloom
consigns rich racing prints fit
only for a Bawd’s scant room.
 
 
 
*
  
  
  
Telling the Bees for Jimmy Dyer
 
 
Carlisle Market hosts midnight concert.
Jimmy Dyer’s ghost, ballad singer fiddling below blea stars.
 
Only drunken stragglers to hear …
Cabbies waiting on night’s last fare
 
think strings daggy hill-blown winds.
Passing strays rub through his legs.
 
Were rushes laid?
Hive receiving funeral crumbs?
 
Song travelling corpse roads, fingers cupped
round the bowl, brawny as bee-bread.
 
Where does he go come daylight, as shoppers bree
through Tesco? Where does he play in sunlight?
 
Maybe hills replenish his pack, strings
plucking local names for flora:
 
Oxeye, Ellers, Dead Tongue, Horse Knap … Vagabond’s Friend
his favourite. Crumbled notes
 
perfecting, telling the bees
how it was, how it always is.
  
 
 
Blea, Bree: Old Cumbrian words for blue, and bustle, or hurry.
  
  
 
*
  
 
 
At the Mortal Man Inn
 
 
In the snug, slotted tight as bee bole,
          face deepening the fire house.
          Fiddle-bow slings hail
          on honeyed floors.
 
Replacing fiddle, terrors begin.
          Sings of the Bargest, raging hairy way
          off fells, eyes sputtering coals,
          no path left but to it.
 
Ballads soft, always a catch,
          faery women on cross-roads,
          coaxing travellers to open-
          mouthed mounds.
 
Unaccompanied voice – glance behind, or
          October’s cold snap, boulders
          mistook for elf-
          shot warriors.
 
Superstitions roar hearth and chimney,
          stain, flaking soot:
          Cover mirrors when a wake begins;
          keep the Skep informed and happy;
 
don’t forget to greet the Magpie,
          ask after his wife, don’t bring hawthorn in;
          or annoy the Hobthrush;
          and don’t, and don’t, and don’t …
 
Sups between verses,
          conversation hive bound,
          fiddle sleeping, hands
          raging mad for music.
 
Deep within The Mortal Man,
          heart’s buzzing fire house,
          takes the fiddle up again.
          Paddling yards, rain’s solitary Bargest.
  
  
  
Bee bole: space for bees in a dry-stone-wall / Skeps: straw spaces in bee boles to shelter bees from the North wind / Bargest: wolf-like Cumbrian spirit foretelling death / Hobthrush: hob spirit / Fire House: main room
 
  
 
*
  
 
 
Floyd on Exiting
 
I.M.: Keith Floyd, 1943 – 2009 / William Gibson, 1884 – 1955
 
 
When Keith Floyd died,
tabloid story: CHEF’S FINAL FEAST
(partridge, cocktails, full-blown wine)
reminded Mum of Billy Gibson’s partied going
(bitter, dessert cake, marinated song)
at Sutton Lib Club’s Pensioners’ Christmas Night.
 
Billy poling up come dawn’s glazed light, trilby tight-
balanced at crown’s back, wrong
scarf … Piquantly ‘worse for wear’,
boasting booze too much, food too much,
‘fantastic times’ tasted. Such
swanning served later by friends, their
glacé eyes. He’d sung: ‘Let him go, let him tarry,
let him sink, let him swim’.
‘Suffer tomorrow’, Daughter grinned
at forced defiance. ‘Your head’ll be
that old chestnut: THE DRUNKARD’S CURSE’.
 
Mates re-heated Billy’s refused
seat downstairs, he’d felt abused,
well-meaning, asked: ‘Able-bodied?’ Boozing
upstairs, dying-up to ‘Showman’ nick-name,
ballad’s flambéd flame.
Gone in bed, no bruising
hang-over, cure un-needed.
 
Now, Floyd’s obituary note,
mean-spirited rival gloats
of days mis-lived. Still, something to be said
for tables left post- savoured food and drink,
hung-over insecurities dwindled (think
reducing stock). Obits gut and joint the dead,
no cognac after-glow …
 
Fabled feasts feed hungry ghosts, allow
my unrepentant Angel’s chorus: ‘Let him tarry, let him go.’
  
  
  
 
from Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…
(Nine Arches Press, 2011).
 
Order Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson….
 
Read more of Deborah’s work at poetry p f.
 
Order Pavilion (Smokestack Books, 2010).
 
Order Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England Press, 2003).
 
Order Revudeville (King’s England Press, 2011).
 
 
 
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Angela France’s Lessons in Mallemaroking

  
 
 
Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals in the United Kingdom and abroad and has been anthologised a number of times. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Her second collection, Occupation is available from Ragged Raven Press and her new pamphlet Lessons in Mallemaroking is now out from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry cafe, ‘Buzzwords’.
 
 
 
 

  
 
 
“Between the lines of Angela France’s poems an ardent force is at work. Lessons in Mallemaroking rewards our curiosity, capturing the reality and truth at large of a nonchalant world that has been perfectly observed just when it thinks no-one else is looking. France urges us to Look inside. Learn to wait, to feel the weight of loss, of hidden lives, of the darkness and hope gathering at the future’s edge.”
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
“Angela France conjures a world of absences and menace with precise and elegant language. Things have begun to fall apart; the creatures are already wise to it. Dogs whimper at night and the horses are watchful of changing weather, they creak light from their joints/as they stamp, swish tails. Buddleia is sprouting through the concrete of driveways and petrol stations. We watch the river, the barrier,/the water rising. These excellent poems come as a warning.”
 
– Martin Figura
 
 
 
“Here are poems that inhabit fully the physical world and explore the ever-shifting boundary between the physical and the metaphysical. Angela France has the craft to sustain her compelling and varied subject matter, and she uses language with controlled intensity, lyric energy, and an unerring sense of how to balance a poem. She is a poet not content with anecdote, but one who engages with the tough uneasy realities of experience.”
 
– Penelope Shuttle
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Dry Dock
 
 
Reynold’s warehouse
frowns rows of windows down
on ‘The Tall Ships’ where crisp
packets and fag-ends cluster
at the base of the menu blackboard.
 
She stands, folded into herself,
hugs the faux-fur closed; arched feet
fidget in red straps as wind
lashes her scarlet-tipped toes with grit.
 
Cosy-painted longboats rock
and nudge each other, seagulls wheel
over the oil-shimmered water to yawp
above the roar of an excavator
shuddering a bite of stone.
 
He shifts his shoulders, lifts his shades,
grumbles about the risk
of dirt on his lens. He adjusts his dials
C’mon darlin’, let’s get on with it.
 
Angling her head to let the wind lift her hair,
she spreads open her coat. Her clenched
calf muscles drive her feet down
onto stilettos; a quiver races
over the skin of her improbable breasts.
The camera clicks, whirrs, clicks:
her pink and white smile shivers
like the ripple that chases
across the grease of the dock basin.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
A Letter Home
 
 
The well is full of dead rabbits, Mother.
Night after night I watch them: some hop,
some run, they all leap in a determined arc
over the rim. The cockroaches multiply
every day but your advice about pots
of paraffin keeps my bed clear. I heard
of a woman whose baby was bitten by rats
in its crib: who’d have a baby now,
even if they could? The radio is down
to an hour a day. They give us
the daily warnings then fake an upbeat
story, usually one with children, or heroic
dogs. The sunset was spectacular last night.
The paper said that the sunsets
show how bad things are; the radio said
that the paper is subversive propaganda.
There have been some new families
in our water queue this week.
They have teenagers and I have watched
a boy and girl look, and look away;
flirt and grow close. I don’t know now
whether rabbits are wiser
in choosing a shorter arc.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Sarah Talks to the Social Worker
 
 
If I’d known what he was thinking
I’d never have let him go.
Some Father-Son time, he said.
A bit of quality time, me and my son
and the mountain.
 
No, I didn’t throw him out
straight away; I didn’t know
what happened. Isaac was quiet,
started bed-wetting.
I thought it was bullying at school,
maybe, or worry about tests.
 
When the nightmares started,
I couldn’t understand what he meant.
I wondered if thugs had moved
into the area, worried about knives
and gangs.
 
Once I understood,
his father’s bags were packed
and on the doorstep before
he got home from work.
 
He’s got a nerve to complain
about supervised visits.
He isn’t the one left holding
a screaming child
whose nights are sharp
with the raised knife, the gleam
in his father’s eye, the blood
of that poor lamb.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard
   
‘Sunday Sport’ Headline
 
 
As a boy, he hated the foolish feeling
of being found; the too-narrow tree
he stood behind, the cupboard door that wouldn’t close
from inside though his fingertips gripped
to whiteness on a slim batten, the shudder
in his chest when he suppressed noisy breath.
 
He worked at being lost, taught his joints to fold
and squeeze in small spaces, schooled his breath
to ease, his heart to slow. It tooks years
to train his blood-flow to thin or pool under his skin,
to shade and pattern the surface.
 
He hides as a party trick, challenges strangers
in bars to find him; vanishes at work, disappears
on dates. He’s filmed for a documentary,
shut in an empty room, slowly fading into wallpaper.
He hides from taxes and utility bills, paternity suits
and parking tickets.
 
His house is riddled with small spaces
under floorboards, hollows in cavity walls,
false walls in alcoves. He perfects the art
of cupboard backs; trompe l’oeil on high shelves
with dusty suitcases, sports equipment
and a carefully woven cobweb of nylon fibre.
 
The fit is perfect, handles on the back
to pull it tight, a can of silicon sealant
stops even his scent from betraying him.
He makes his muscles relax, his limbs
settle into their contortions. He waits
for someone who’ll seek.
 
 
 
 
 
‘Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard’ was previously published in the Arvon Competition Anthology 2010.
 
from Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011).
 
Order Lessons in Mallemaroking.
 
Order Occupation (Ragged Raven Press, 2009).
 
Read more of Angela’s work at poetry p f.
 
Listen to Angela reading some of her poems at PoetCasting.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 

Ruth Larbey’s Funglish

Ruth Larbey

  
 
Ruth Larbey was born in Cyprus, and grew up in Nottingham, Hong Kong and rural Cumbria. She has spent her last two years working at an international development charity in London, after completing her MA at Warwick University in 2008. She has been published in various magazines, and organises music and art performance events in her spare time. Funglish (Nine Arches Press, 2010) is her debut pamphlet of poems.
 
 
 

  
 
Ruth Larbey’s debut collection, Funglish, is a maiden voyage alive with the simple thrill of exploration. Arriving in the big city for the first time, and encountering love armed only with the crackle of language, she re-imagines liminal spaces into new territories vibrant with possibility. With Funglish, Ruth Larbey has began to write the first chapter in the history of the new romantics.
 
 
 
Praise for Funglish:
 
 
“There’s a drastic incandescence to Ruth Larbey’s syntax which pulls you into her poetry. Writing with an edgy control reminiscent of Emily Dickinson, her poems create exacting ‘electric constellations’ of vision and nerve in which no word is wasted, no darkness left unexplored. As Dickinson wrote, ‘A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.’ Ruth Larbey’s language is alive and gravid.”
 
– David Morley
 
 
 
 
Funglish
 
in beaks, in coats, on the air,
the spores of funglish
broadcast a persistent contagion,
a black-market pestilence –
the beginnings of our sentences          die in the middle
 
we hatched out those poisons
that stunk in the mud,
scratched our dreams into songs,
blind in the dust –
 
unseeming, unstitching –
 
whilst a post-mortem shock registers:
we knew none of the secrets
coming out of our mouths
and still don’t
 
we stole those words
that congealed with meaning,
 
(bubbled heavily)
went bad on the inside –
 
sick; rank and wicked,
our mouths mildewed and wanting,
 
with the spores of a funglish that’s
 
hard to
define
 
 
 
 
The Secret World of Orchids is
 
demanding like viscous saliva on a jutted lip
and a specific fungal entourage,
seasonally employed
 
theophrastos uprooted the clever lump
potatoesque; testicular
 
eggs of a bird, a bog-adder’s mouth, coconut pie
 
Ophrys Bombylifera:
 
a bee sotted on a curious idol,
the image of his maker –
 
(a flower feigning lust
with peculiar silks
and
immoderate smells)
 
– is disappointed
 
snake-mouth, tangleroot, flower of the dead
 
this heavy, rumbling sky may fall on our heads but
the rhizome remains
all tongues and no mouths
all mouths and no eyes
 
keeping sacred fires alight
in notable greenhouses,
acolytes tamper with ties and rods
 
the mysterious irrigation mist:
droplets, gifted from god
 
 
 
from Funglish (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
 
Order Funglish.

Claire Crowther’s Mollicle

Claire Crowther by Tony Frazer

  
 
Claire Crowther’s two collections, Stretch of Closures (Shearsman, 2007) and The Clockwork Gift (Shearsman, 2009), have been received with wide acclaim. Stretch of Closures was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize in 2007. Her work is published widely in such journals as the London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, New Welsh Review, PN Review, Warwick Review, and online in Horizon, Qualm and many others. Her pamphlet, Mollicle, is published by Nine Arches Press. She has an MPhil (Glamorgan) and a PhD (Kingston) both in Creative Writing. She was born and grew up in Hobs Moat near Solihull.
  
  
What some reviewers have said:
 
 
“While her poems can be crystal-clear, more often they are riddling, veering, mysterious; deadly serious or quietly funny.”
 
– Richard Price, Times Literary Supplement, 16 October 2009
 
 
The Clockwork Gift comes just two years after Stretch of Closures, Crowther’s distinctive debut, and between them they add up not just to a promising first collection and a speedy follow-up, but a real and achieved body of work by a striking talent. The Clockwork Gift is a pleasure to read.”
 
– David Wheatley, New Welsh Review, Autumn 2009
 
 
” … such inventiveness and confidence that the reader cannot help but be uplifted, carried away with the energy of the work. Claire Crowther is a poet in love with sound and movement, in short, with the cadence of life itself.”
 
– Helen Mort, Poetry London, Summer 2009

  
 

  
 
Mollicle by Claire Crowther is zesty, mysterious and mischievous. Curiosity and surprise come from a chorus of diverging and merging voices; mothers, daughters, ‘Alices’ and others, the ordinary world turned kaleidoscopic and rearranged in Crowther’s distinct and elegant fashion. These poems are not without their glinting sharp edges either, which emerge without warning and ask of us whether we wish to leap or look down first.
 
 
Praise for Mollicle:
 
“Claire Crowther’s work is wittily compelling, a complex music. Poems by Crowther are events. With equal power, Mollicle reflects the outer world and the mind’s life, intensely illuminated.
 
          day and night, repay your loan:
          shine with sun’s compulsive light.”
 
– Alison Brackenbury
 
  
“Claire Crowther’s poems employ what seems to be a singular form of logic – each one is like a mirror she has handed you in which you see something familiar, yet in a way you hadn’t managed to see before.”
 
– Roddy Lumsden
  
 
   
Woman in the Canon
 
Heads are floating at every level of the staircase,
marble, bronze, sometimes with a shaven shoulder.
 
Carry on up your long bud-sprout stalk
of a kale runt torch: a cabbage head lit
 
by a candle on top, its thick packed leaves
hard-veined as winter. Your arms are out
 
at the elbows in this stairwell crowded with murals
of mythic action – what does it matter who
 
landed the boat or fought off the invaders?
Hold up your cabbage head uncooked, uneaten,
 
a simple candelabra to the canon.
This multi-storey atom of the arts
 
hosts men on every floor but, inbetween
and going down, I give off light.
 
 
 
This poem first appeared in Shearsman.
 
 

Order Mollicle (Nine Arches Press, 2010).
 
Order Stretch of Closures (Shearsman, 2007).
 
Order The Clockwork Gift (Shearsman, 2009).
 
Visit Claire’s website.
 
Listen to Claire reading her poems on Poetcasting.
 
Read more of Claire’s poems at poetry p f.

David Hart’s The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks

    
David Hart, born in Aberystwyth, lives in Birmingham, has been (many years ago) a university chaplain, theatre critic and arts administrator, and now lives as a poet, with recent part time teaching posts at Warwick and Birmingham Universities; residencies include psychiatric and general hospitals, Worcester Cathedral and the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival; Birmingham Poet Laureate 1997-98; winner National Poetry Competition 1994, 2nd in 2003. Elected Member of the Welsh Academy. His poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and his books and pamphlets include Setting the poem to words, Crag Inspector (a poem of Bardsey Island), and Running Out (all Five Seasons Press), and The Titanic Café closes its door and hits the rocks (Nine Arches Press, 2009).
    

© David Hart

  
The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
  
or: Knife, fork and bulldozer ultra modern
retail outlet complex development scenario
with flowers
      
Nominated for the Michael Marks Poetry Award
   
Originally probably an office and observation point for the canal company, on the Bristol Road in Selly Oak, Birmingham, the freestanding building that takes centre stage in this sequence was in recent memory the Knife and Fork café (Titanic café, unsinkable), a small business next door, and above them a huge advertising hoarding. After storm damage, the place became derelict and in 2007 was demolished.
  
The poem and notes are a mix of local history, surreal and playful language, and not a little anger at the proposed ‘development’ of the canalside area as a huge retail complex on what is poisoned ground sprouting something of a revelation – a wonderful crop of wild flowers.
 
Published by Nine Arches Press as part of their mini-pamphlet series, The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks includes a selection of colour photographs taken by David Hart on location to accompany the poem. This vivid and dynamic sequence is a fitting swansong to a city’s lost landmarks, the vanishing and shape-shifting human geographies of the heartlands.
  
Titanic Café is one of the most lightly achieved, unpretentious, mordantly ironic, and relevant contemporary poems I have ever read. It possesses gravitas in spadefuls, yet never fails to laugh at its own futility as a gesture against change – this is the poet as King Canute, both pointing ironically and weeping as the waves sweep in around him, or the bulldozers in this case.”
   
– Jane Holland
   
Read the full review here
 

© David Hart

 
an extract from
   
The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
(Nine Arches Press, 2009)
      
     
The traffic that blooms in the Spring, tra la,
head to tail in the glorious Spring, tra la,
the same every day in the Spring, tra la,
there’ll be no more spring in the Spring, tra la,
                  boopy, boopy.
  
                  Place borns us
           and suffers and joys us
                   and dies us.
   
  
  
The theatre of THE BEST TEA IN THE UK
              is falling down,
the canal isn’t deep enough for the TITANIC CAFÉ
to sink without trace, there’d be a fine mess.
                  All but ready to collapse
                  of its own volition. Listen,
a child on a longboat along from Bournville asks,
     What’s that?! ‘It’s a
planks and struts and frames by numbers temple
                   to the God of Advertising
where you could buy God’s Own Tea
till the God of Storm
                            took it away almost.’
Birds Food Trefoil – Eggs & Bacon , Ham
& Eggs, Hen & Chickens, Tom Thumb, Lady’s Slipper,
Granny’s Toenails, Fingers & Thumbs, Cuckoo’s Stockings,
Dutchman’s Clogs – a place exquisitely lit
by eyes that know it.
                            Ah to escape all shit,
by day and night
and be disembodied thought.
   
      Stop at the lights,
      move at the lights.
    
Everything can go into little bags,
Sainsbury’s old and new can go into a little bag,
what remains of the Battery Co. can go into one,
the new hospital can go into one with the university,
the Worcester & Birmingham canal can be drained
                   into a purse
and the concrete can be folded into a handkerchief,
the Knife & Fork Café as was can go into a black bag,
the whole wild flower waste ground can go into one,
Selly Oak library can go into a little glo-bag,
a little polythene bag will be plenty for the Bristol Road,
another for COMET, B&Q, HOMEBASE and the rest,
another bag for the Dingle,
all of them in a trail of little bags,
a little bag now for the railway station and a Cross City
and a Virgin Pendolino that happens to be crossing,
a little bag for all the people in Selly Oak at 3 a.m.
                   this Easter Sunday,
all the dogs in a little bag, all the cats in another,
all the cars, vans, lorries, motorbikes and buses
                       in a crisp packet,
                         for Christmas.
    
  
*  

Purchase The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
(Nine Arches Press, 2009) here.
 
Read more about the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets.
   

David Hart

David Morley’s The Night of the Day

David Morley

     
A former natural scientist, David Morley has published 18 books, including nine volumes of poetry, won 13 literary awards and gained two awards for his teaching, including a National Teaching Fellowship. He is Director of the Warwick Writing Programme at the University of Warwick, and also Director of The Warwick Prize for Writing. Recent publications include The Invisible Kings (Carcanet, 2007) and The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. His forthcoming collection of poems from Carcanet will be titled Enchantment.
    
   
  
   
The Night of the Day (Nine Arches Press, 2009) is remarkable for the skill and grace with which it travels through the difficult territories that map a journey from darkness towards light. In this movement from out of the shadows, it engages with tricks of the light, vanishings, illusions, magic and bitter realities, whilst using the terrain of language that each necessitates.
  
From the brutally austere language that depicts a child’s experience of violence that opens this short collection, the poems move thematically into the natural world and the darting, shifting vocabularies of memory, friendship and loss. The Night of the Day keeps a solid and determined pace, which ultimately brings us under the canvas of the big top and into the lives of the travelling circus people, in their own words, their own voices, an undertow of threat and prejudice forever shadowing their footsteps on the road.
  
  
 
Three
David Morley

 
I am trying to behave but my father
has a fist crammed with kitchen knives
like a brilliant new hand, and the rest
of us in the house are suddenly not alive.
One of us is guilty of the crime of two biscuits.
One of us has taken biscuits without permission
so all are condemned and have earned his lesson
which is to cower in the bedroom’s corner
without cover while he slices our arteries open
in the air between us. His house is his abattoir.
His home is lit with hooks and steel hands.
We are not alive as he bars the bedroom door.
 
The morning is ordinary because I am three.
My brother unwinds a lace from his shoe.
He works its little rope across the hearth
until it makes a dripping strip of light and flame
that he slips slowly on the back of my hand.
I am trying to behave as though this never happened,
keeping my scorched hand below the tablecloth
while my father, sick with guilt, serves us soup.
My brother knows I can soak up his secrets.
My left fingers misbehave and my father
forces the hand. Sered sores. A veal of veins.
My brother at this time is being flung into a wall
and all I am thinking is that I do not like oxtail.
 
I do not like the blood thirst of what I can hear
through the floor of my bedroom as my father
flies off his handle again, but this is a real handle
that he’s handling as a weapon, and the sitting room
is being smashed and smashed and smashed to death.
Better the mirrors, I think, than my mother.
But he’s upstairs by now, kicking his way up
and dread is draining through that black wall
but the wall doesn’t shelter, not when there’s a door
to be hurled off its hinges like it was never there,
him yanking me by my cock to his yelling height
before dropping me down a well in that dark room.
His face swells to fill the door as he finds his range.
 
 
 
Published in The Night of the Day (Nine Arches Press, 2009) and previously published in Cake.
 
Order The Night of the Day here.
 
Read two poems from The Night of the Day – ‘Mayflies’ and ‘Alaskan Salmon’ – in Horizon Review’s third issue.
 
Visit David’s blog and website.

Myra Connell’s From the Boat

      
Myra Connell’s latest collection of poems is the pamphlet From the Boat (Nine Arches Press, March 2010). Her first collection of poems, A Still Dark Kind of Work, was published by Heaventree Press in 2008. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, and her short stories in two collections from Tindal Street Press, Her Majesty and Are You She? She lives in Birmingham and has two grown-up sons.
   

Myra Connell

    
These poems ‘From the Boat’ come from a time of waiting, of mourning, and of finding small consolations. They are, many of them, small poems, the opposite of heroic. Bare, spare in mood, and exploring a sense of dislocation and disorientation, they look coldly at what is left when almost everything is pared away.
  
And yet they rejoice in moments of revelation – the golden flash of carp in a pool, a red jacket on a woman in a cafe; and the words, the language, the poems themselves, never feel doubtful or uncertain in their own power.
  
Myra Connell’s poetry is measured yet generous; experimental and adventurous; sharp, often angry, and yet tender.
   
   
 
And yes, the house
Myra Connell
  
And yes, the house, the houses.
The wood, the ground, the thick brown leaves –
not that we lay on them, not that,
but standing, felt our bodies skin to skin.
I loved a stranger in a sycamore wood –
and always, now, the house.
  
It was a white one, on a bank or hill.
Behind the hedge a lawn, but curving;
and steps up to a path. Such blank clean windows.
(What was it that he said? The hope was stupid.)
Such an ugly house, so cold,
so stiff, immaculate, so dark at dusk.
So dead.
  
  
 
From the valley
Myra Connell
 
From the valley, trees seemed frosted.
Up close, each twig a ghost, a shadow made of ice,
each twig, all along the ridge
and pushing in to sparse bare woods.
 
And did I say? About the pool?
He took my hand, said, Here.
This way, and led me round the back,
behind the crumbling wall –
  
an awkward turn, a stepping stone –
(the smell of frying eggs, stale smoke)
and there, a deep black pool.
Carp moved goldly,
  
muscled. Go today. See carp.
Go anywhere with walls, deep pools,
and gold (but don’t say gold)
leaves floating
  
cold.
  
 
  
Published in From the Boat (Nine Arches Press, 2010).
 
Order From the Boat.
  
Matt Merritt mentions Myra Connell and From the Boat in this
Polyolbion post.
  
Visit Nine Arches Press’s website.