Tag Archives: Salmon Poetry

Patrick Chapman’s The Darwin Vampires

Patrick Chapman was born in 1968. The Darwin Vampires (Salmon Poetry, 2010) is his fifth collection, following Jazztown (Raven Arts Press, Dublin, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon Poetry, Co. Clare, 1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (Salmon Poetry, 2007) and A Shopping Mall on Mars (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2008). His book of short stories is The Wow Signal (Bluechrome, UK, 2007).
Also a scriptwriter, he adapted his own published story for Burning the Bed (2003). Directed by Denis McArdle, this award-winning film stars Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen. Chapman has written several episodes of the Cbeebies and RTÉ series Garth & Bev (Kavaleer, 2009/10). His audio play, Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks (Big Finish, UK, 2007), was directed by Mark J. Thompson. It stars Wendy Padbury as Zoe and Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks.
With Philip Casey, he founded the Irish Literary Revival website in 2006. This brings out-of-print books of Irish interest back into circulation online, with the consent and participation of the authors.
Chapman has been a finalist twice in the Sunday Tribune Hennessy Literary Awards. His story ‘A Ghost’ won first prize in the Cinescape Genre Literary Competition in L.A. The title poem of The Darwin Vampires was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

The Darwin Vampires, Patrick Chapman’s fifth collection, draws on life as much as on imagination, candidly exploring themes of memory, death, fractured love, and the strangeness of the world. From the Pushcart Prize nominated title poem, through wistful elegies for lost childhood innocence, to the final, affecting sequence on mortality, The Darwin Vampires is an addictive and immersive experience.
“Chapman’s writing credits range from poetry and fiction to radio and television scripts. He co-founded the Irish Literary Revival Website in 2006, which makes available out-of-print books by Irish authors. Perhaps he may be seen principally as a poet as this is his fifth collection. The first was in 1991 and the fourth in 2008. The title poem and others like ‘Saint Dracula’, ‘Oubliette’ and ‘Funeral Song’ give this collection a Gothic feel and some of the poems have a melancholy theme like the loss of childhood, death and unhappy love. Indeed the overall tone is one of sadness and anger. In many of the poems Chapman explores personal relationships but in others, like ‘Oubliette’, he addresses issues in the wider world. These poems lack the whimsy self-indulgence that is the hallmark of much modern poetry but they have a genuine emotional grip that can be disturbing.”
Books Ireland (February 2011)
The Darwin Vampires
for Catherine
Being loth to sink in at your neck, they prefer to drink
Between your toes. They revel in the feet; they especially
Enjoy those places in between, where microbial kingdoms,
Overthrown with a pessary, render needle-toothed
Injuries invisible; where any trace of ingress, lost in the fold,
Is conspicuous – as they themselves in daylight are –
By its absence. You will hardly notice that small
Sting; might not miss a drop until the moment
That the very last is drained. And when you’re six
Beneath the topsoil, you will never rise to join them.
Rather, you will be a hint; a fluctuating butterfly;
A taste-regret on someone’s tongue; a sudden tinted
Droplet in the iris of a fading smile; a blush upon
A woman’s rose; a broken vein in someone’s eyelid –
Always one degree below what’s needed to be warm.
Gloria Mundi
In that recurring future memory,
I push out from the capsule’s
Open hatch – my Mercury
Recalling Alan Shepard’s.
Snug within a pressure suit,
I’m paid out on the tether line
That tautens until, breaking
Tensile limits, it whips free,
Unleashing an infinity
In which I feel no terror.
Rather, lost in wonder at the sky,
I find a liberation in accepting
That I’ll die out here.
There’s nowhere I would rather die.
Moreover, beatifically
Mislaid between the moon
And Cape Canaveral,
I revel in being utterly alone,
Elated in my weightlessness –
The last breath in my lungs expelled
To hush a fragile wisp
From that frail atmosphere
Of bygone Earth above where
Nature ever dared to blow.
The flower of an astral ghost,
My final exhalation, leaves
A shrinking mist upon the glass.
Embalmed by space and gliding
Out of orbit, now descending
To cremation-by-re-entry –
I desire within my reverie
To settle on the solar wind,
And float serenely far beyond Centauri.
I had known that when I got to thirty-two,
     In the year of the millennium,
          We would all have flying cars.
          In a corner of the bedroom
          He pulled back the linoleum,
          Discovered the controls of a rocket
          And became again that five-year-old
          Working with crayons.
We’d float in sky hotels the shape of wheels;
     Or live in giant city-domes
          Protected by a shield from meteorites.
          Constructing a spacecraft
          To carry him up there,
          Far above the clouds,
          The boy had drawn buttons,
          A viewscreen, a joystick,
          Shaded in orange and purple and black.
          Everything worked.
We’d all pop pills instead of dinner –
     But there would always be ice cream;
          They’d be selling Klondikes on the moon.
          Eventually forgotten,
          That homemade control room:
          As years counted down, it became
          A fossil record of the future,
          Its cargo of notions adrift,
          The rocketship lost under lino,
          Wrecked on the coral of spacetime.
You Murder the Sun
You murder Tchaikovsky. You used to love
His Violin Concerto in D, the Kennedy version.
Something in Pyotr’s martyrdom appealed to you.
His final symphony you loved as well, felt his use
Of Pathétique was anything but modesty.
You murder Rhapsody in Blue.
You murder Manhattan.
You murder Woody Allen.
You murder the epsilon at work
Who sniped that he had never met anyone
Quite as incontinent as you.
He had meant to say ‘incompetent’.
You murder every grain of sand.
You murder every particle of water in the sea.
You murder every tree in the park.
You murder all the clouds
That ever passed above your head,
Telling you of elephants and Russia.
You murder dark matter.
You murder the moon.
You murder Australia.
You murder the night you made love
In a lightstorm with Y.,
Daring the bolts to incinerate you both.
When you lived, you promised that next time
You would do without the lightning.
That would show it.
You murder the sunshine that made G.’s wedding day
Angelic as A Convent Garden, Brittany.
You murder William Leech.
You murder the sun.
You murder all weddings.
You murder all funerals.
You murder the ones who went before
And showed you how it’s done.
You murder the old tourist who,
Over mojitos in Bar St Germain,
Let slip that one fall afternoon as a girl,
She trained the neighbours’ Labrador
To lap her up
Into a perfect, frothing O.
You murder the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
You murder the teleportation of quantum states.
You murder the Sombrero galaxy.
You murder the Neopolitan assault of pleasure
When you put anchovies, capers and green olives
In the same mouth at the same time.
You murder A Death in the Family.
You murder Nineteen Eighty-Four.
You murder I Am Legend.
You murder your surprise at the Olympia when S.,
Returning from the ladies’ room post-interval,
Found herself caught up in the stageward procession
Of the Polyphonic Spree.
You murder the Golden Gate Bridge in 1995.
You murder the Piazza del Campo in 1996.
You murder Port El Kantaoui in 1998.
You murder the receptors in your memory flesh,
Each existing now
Only for the loss it represents –
Time and place
Translated into chemicals.
                                                      At random:
Someone you had loved,
Split off into another life,
A universe
You know nothing about.
All you have is the recording.
You murder even that.
Time for the two of you
It stopped everything happening
At once.
You murder time.
It is all you can do
To kill it before it kills you.
Manila Hemp
If I had been you –
I’d have checked the trapdoor and release
For proper operation. I’d have
Soaked and stretched the rope
To rule out spring or coiling. I’d have
Oiled the hangman’s knot
For smoother sliding.
Tied around a grommet and a bracket,
The rope prepared to take the sudden
Weight and force of someone’s fall;
Measurements, examinations, aiding
In avoiding strangulation or
Beheading –
That is how I would have done it.
But you were never me
And when you did it, you had no
Technique; you’d no finesse.
Your drop continued, feet-first, into
Other people’s lives and through them,
Leaving exit wounds.
Solitude, like water, was something he decided
He needed more of but when he went in search of it,
He discovered that, like potable water, there seemed to be
Less of it about, as though there’d been a convention
Of thirsty hermits in the vicinity of his home and
They’d bottled all the silence. So he drove to the beach
At midnight, found the remains of jellyfish, alien ghosts,
An apocalypse of invertebrates, whose stings lay in wait
For him to make contact. He saw no people in this place
Where one time, naked hundreds had posed for photographs,
Some drunk and freezing pink in the Irish summer dawn.
He considered walking in the water in the dark, diluting
Himself like a poison on its current, out past the buoys.
By the time he got to Portishead, full of brine and tangled
Up in random junk from some rich waster’s luxury island,
He would himself be jetsam. But the sea was crowded too.
And looking out into the galaxy, he found no reassurance:
Every place was full. Even all the dark between the stars
Was matter now, not vacuum; trillions unlike anything
He could begin to contemplate lived there. It was no good.
He look off both his shoes – and stepped into a jellyfish.
from The Darwin Vampires (Salmon Poetry, 2010).
Order The Darwin Vampires.
Visit Patrick’s website.

J.P. Dancing Bear: Five Poems

J.P. Dancing Bear

J. P. Dancing Bear is the author nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (Salmon Poetry, 2010). His poems have been published in DIAGRAM, No Tell Motel, Third Coast, New Orleans Review, Verse Daily and many other publications. He is editor of the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press and hosts Out of Our Minds on public station KKUP. His tenth collection, Family of Marsupial Centaurs (and other birthday poems), will be released by Iris Publications in late 2010.

“Throughout Inner Cities of Gulls, whether penetrating the natural world or the historical one, whether in love poems or in poems that explore other ‘inner weather’ of the human heart, J. P. Dancing Bear reveals a certain kind of earned wisdom. Sometimes summoning the voices of mythical persons, sometimes raising his own powerful voice, this poet lends insight to our sometimes faulty assumptions about the way life should be lived. ‘I could change light/ and substance into any gift’, claims the speaker of ‘The Dark Current’. The poems in this compelling collection are themselves such a gift.”
– Andrea Hollander Budy
“J.P. Dancing Bear writes new myths for our times through a cornucopia of characters, from Prospero as a TV weatherman to Jesuses of the street. Inner Cities of Gulls contains powerfully moving poems that are restlessly inventive and always life affirming. They celebrate both the natural world and the trance of traffic, displaying his trademark range.”
– Pascale Petit
from Inner Cities of Gulls (Salmon Poetry, 2010):
Belief About a Barn and Silo
As if the river of sun-colored grass
laps against the barn and its silo
to listen to the field mice sing a hymn
to the darkness of a wooden sky—
Oh gracious God, our thanks for the gift
of hawkless air
. But maybe the field
has come to reclaim its small brown bodies
taking them back to the belly of soil.
The mice are not without their skeptics,
those who question God
for providing a roof but bringing the devil
in the green eyes of feral cats.
The debate rages through generations
amongst the quiet farm equipment
which in another time would have kept
the field calmed into canals of tilled soil,
would have forced the mice to a moonlit
exodus into the woods of waiting owls.
All of this memory and lore forces the
congregation to believe everything
has a purpose: the field floods forward
with a reason; the tractor sleeps by God’s
design; the silo’s silent air must be
sacred; and a cat’s belly is surely hell.
What Language
I will give her a heron feather
pressed in the folds of a blank book
intended for the longest love poem.
A promise.
In what language do I write
the words that fit her?
I am an uneducated man
feeling out the letters
of a new vocabulary.
I have come to learn
the lexicon of our open field
and speak the petals
of a shared wish,
the circling red tail of desire,
the stones of forgiveness.
I will learn a language
to ask for the wings
of her eyes to fly with me
to the tall grass of our new home.
from Family of Marsupial Centaurs (and other birthday poems)
(Iris Press, 2010):
Family of Marsupial Centaurs
for Patricia Helen Boldeo

you are recounting the Fable of Seahorse: everything is pouch light and sonograms: all day the sea and the land go back and forth: hoofprints in the sand: you’re not sure there’s enough sunblock to go around: the horseshoe crabs are singing for their lunch this afternoon: a child whispers a rumor of monsoons into the wings of butterflies: you’ve brought a pitcher of tempest ice-tea: someone has a romantic notion and brands it on your cheek: possible performance art piece—possible restraining order: there are forks in the road: even way out here: oh the terrible Fable of Mendel comes true: not all the children are born to hooves
Shall We . . .
for C.J. Sage
because there are only reds and yellows and all the tones they blend into: because you don’t need a dress: because I don’t need to know all the great smooth moves: to feel your dance: because small fires break out into other dancers: because I burned the moon—who needs the moon when I have your eyes to look into: because you spark off stars with every curvy move: because you hang on tight: because you trust me to dip you down low: because I never let go: because even in the deepest sleep I wake up with your hand resting over my heart
for Frank Depoole
you confess your sense of time is off: the clocktower lighthouse swings its anchor to 4 o’clock: your hand: your disembodied hand: like a swinging wrecking-ball pendulum: fumbles the final walls in a house of cards: sound of flip-clatter demolition: someone pronounces dramatically god loves a good flywheel!: then a spring shoots out of his chest: you’ve got the small birds of your scarf: catching the wind: like sails in the harbor: the rigging, the rigging: tangled up: in filigree: hot air balloons war against pendulums for the right way up: a pedigreed Anubis sits patiently: waiting for the aqueduct to come through: you time the rolling water: small boat in the canal: passing the markers: while you log their time: set free the chitter-chatting philosopher birds: who bobbed like caged metronomes: you have one checkered thing to say: in a world of moving parts the spider builds no web: the compass swivels and dots coordinates: you have your star maps: your charts: the diaries of old sea captains: who counted the minutes: in their fevered sleep: of far-off ports of call
Order Inner Cities of Gulls.
Visit Iris Press.
Visit J.P. Dancing Bear’s website.
Visit the American Poetry Journal.

Kevin Higgins’s Frightening New Furniture

Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events. He facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre; teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute and on the Brothers of Charity Away With Words programme. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. One of the poems from Time Gentlemen, Please, ‘My Militant Tendency’, features in the Forward Book of Poetry 2009. One of the poems in this collection, ‘Ourselves Again’, appeared in Best of Irish Poetry 2009 (Southword Editions). His work also features in the The Watchful Heart – A New Generation of Irish Poets (edited by Joan McBreen, Salmon Poetry) and in Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (edited by Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010).

In poems laced with the blackest humour Kevin Higgins spares no-one, least of all himself. In this his third collection of poetry, he takes the reader through the hubris of boom time Ireland and out the other side into a strange country where everything is suddenly broken again. Just when Ireland imagined itself to have finally escaped history, the statues of virgins and freedom fighters are on the move again. Higgins goes all the way into the dark to investigate what’s left when youthful political idealism – his ‘old political furniture’ – gives way under the sheer weight of what actually happens. As ever, the City of Galway is one of his pet subjects, and he takes time out to bring to hilarious life its bookshop romancers and women who decide to be fascinating.
Read an interview with Kevin and his wife, fellow poet Susan Millar DuMars, in the Galway Advertiser.
“important emerging voice”
The Irish Times

“a social critique as lithe and imaginative as that of the con-merchants who run the show… A satire which eschews moderation and openly admits its own savagery can only succeed.”
Justin Quinn, The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry, 1800-2000
“He is the only one of my Irish contemporaries who makes me laugh out loud regularly, not just because the work is funny, but because it has that great sense of character behind it, where one pictures the speaker in all his curmudgeonly grumpy-old-man-ness glaring at the reader wondering what the hell they’re laughing at!”
Nigel McLoughlin, Iota
“The left should hurry to welcome this collection. Here is poetry that we can identify with, that tells of our hopes and fears and doubts and questions, that puts our lives on the map too. The fact that one of our own can tell such stories in a way that is so powerful and satisfying is something to be proud of.”
Joe Conroy, Red Banner magazine
“This is work which raises the question of what the political poem can be, for us now, in our several cultures.”
Siobhan Campbell, www.dissentmagazine.org
“wonderfully inventive imagery”
Laurie Smith, Magma
Ourselves Again
In the park our ice lollies
fall victim to the June bank holiday heat,
while in glass rooms numbers moving
through dark computers
declare the future
Tomorrow, we’ll have our double glazing
taken out; the crack put back
in the ceiling and a draught
installed under every door.
I’ll attach a For Sale sign
to the seat of my pants.
Gangs of the angry unemployed
will bear down on the G Hotel
chanting “Down with Daiquiris
and Slippery Nipples! Give us back
our glasses of Harp!”
In pubs nationwide, the carpets of yesteryear
will be reinstated, and there’ll be meetings
of Sinn Fein The Workers Party
going on permanently upstairs.
On our knees, we’ll ask
for the unforgiveness of sins
and life not lasting.
We’ll be ourselves again
and then some.
House Guest
after Elizabeth Bishop
For eighteen months
he’s been staying
until the end of next week –
harder to pin down on any calendar
than the precise date of his world
uprising of the workers,
which he writes down for you nightly
on that day’s anti-poll tax leaflet.
All the first week of January, fried slices
of the Christmas pudding his mother sent him
in the post are breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Work or the laundrette would get in the way
of his plans for the planet.
Your one bedroom flat is starting to smell.
When not away on a demo chanting
“Victory to Iraq!” his afternoons are spent
doing despicable things to worse women
in your bed. The pile of twenty pence pieces
on your bedside locker diminishes daily.
Yesterday, he was rushed to hospital
to have the y-fronts he’s worn
for the past six months
surgically removed.
Today, he’s what
emerges from your living room
sofa bed to tell you
where you’re going wrong.
A School Boy Goes Home Early
Twenty five years after me, you moved
through a chaos of blue uniforms
down those same break time corridors
towards the day you became
a list of things that’ll never now happen.
Parties you won’t be going to.
Cities you’ll never visit.
A wedding day at which
you’ll never arrive.
You couldn’t see
that even the worst weather
of your worst day
would have given way
to something else;
that you could have lived
through anything
but this.
Together In The Future Tense
On a day that, for now, sits
unopened under the tree,
you’ll push me uphill in a wheelchair;
say things like: Augustus John,
as you’ll know, was obsessed
with motorcars
and think
people know what you mean.
Every other Wednesday
we’ll take the wrong medication
(you, mine and I, yours)
and the results will be
magnificent. I’ll be forever answering
the question before last.
In our thoughts we’ll commit
grotesque typographical errors:
for Athens read Athenry, for Ralgex
read Canesten, for Disabled Toilet
read World Weightlifting Championships,
for Swan Lake read Loughrea.
The once absolute monarchy
of my brain will grant autonomy
to my bits. Our bladders will be busy
writing their declarations of independence.
We’ll be our very own festival of befuddlement;
as the light on the Aegean Sea
becomes a small boy
taking his ball home for the evening,
and the stray dogs wander off.
from Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010)
Order Frightening New Furniture.

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Five

Jody Allen Randolph
Painting Rain by Paula Meehan (Carcanet Press)
Fort Red Border by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande Books)
Apocalyptic Swing by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (Persea)
Dismantling the Hills by Michael McGriff
(University of Pittsburgh Press)
Patrick Chapman
mainstream love hotel by Todd Swift (tall-lighthouse)
In Sight of Home by Nessa O’Mahony (Salmon Poetry)
a compact of words by rob mclennan (Salmon Poetry)
Ivy Alvarez
One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds (Jonathan Cape)
Cross-Talk by Siobhán Campbell (Seren Books)
To Be Eaten by Mice by Robyn Mathison (Ginninderra Press)
Inua Ellams
Bird Head Son by Anthony Joseph (Salt Modern Poets)
City State: New London Poetry, edited by Tom Chivers
(Penned in the Margins)
Things to do before you leave Town by Ross Sutherland
(Penned in the Margins)
Colin Will
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Rays by Richard Price (Carcanet Press)
The Ambulance Box by Andrew Philip (Salt Modern Poets)
David Floyd
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Charismatic Megafauna by Tamsin Kendrick
(Penned in the Margins)
‘We needed coffee but …’ by Matthew Welton (Carcanet Press)
Hazel Frankel
What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone
(Bloodaxe Books)
The Missing by Sián Hughes (Salt Modern Poets)
A Scattering by Christopher Reid (Areté Books)
James Womack
‘We needed coffee but …’ by Matthew Welton (Carcanet Press)
A Scattering by Christopher Reid (Areté Books)
The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid (CB Editions)
Barbara Smith
The Sun-fish by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Press)
Occupation by Angela France (Ragged Raven Press)
The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher (Salt Modern Poets)
The Fire Step by Tom French (Gallery Press)
The Treekeeper’s Tale by Pascale Petit (Seren Books)
The Opposite of Cabbage by Rob A. Mackenzie (Salt Modern Poets)
Ruth Ellen Kocher
Arc & Hue by Tara Betts (Willow Books)
Mixology by Adrian Matejka (Penguin)
Kelly Cherry
Shadow Box by Fred Chappell (LSU Press)
News of the World by Philip Levine (Knopf)