3 Poems available to read in Rivista, Issue 3: Dendrology.

Available to buy here: https://rivista.bigcartel.com/product/issue-3-dendrology

Also featuring work by Lawrence Illsley, Sonya Hundal, Francesca Giannelli, Alexandra Keramidas, Tony Vero, Palma Ambrosini, Marco Vitale, Marika D’Aprile in English and Italian.

DOWSING STICK

Turning out plastic tokens from my pockets
And running an upturned hand along the underside
Of witch-tree branches (overgrown: needing amputated).
I could retire from the biomes of The City –
Here I’ve no gut to complain, no neck to put out,
Or claws for burrowing, a spine to prop me up straight,
No scales or hide or carapace for a mobile home.
So, I want to look down and see Steinbeck
Beneath the ground, held in the taller grass —
His boots welcomed into the sweeting ground. 
I could impregnate the selfless greenery,
With my automatic tools, my metal extensions,
Terraforming the low fields and ascending forests.
Or, end myself simply against a felled sleeper,
Not by money, not eviction, (or any invisible string).
Beaten yet again, but honestly this time, and final —
Unceremonious. Trading in a heavy head for another,
A sinner’s mind for a mute bone in the ground.
Following only the Y-shaped divining rods,
Severed on the ground. All my tangled aspirations,
Now crosshatched and clotted, wetly unwinding into a new bed.

Pop Astrology


Sitting street-side at the Zodiac Café, I shuffle my hand,
Scratching at my cheap scorpion tattoo. I turn out my coffee
Onto the real thing (a Red Claw) laying low in the gutter.
This displeases him, and he tells me so by rattling his sickle,
Percussing with his mouth-beaters and snapping his shears.
Here, the satyr/shop-owner turns out his sagged awning
With a splintered mop-handle and splits it by mistake.
The downpour is a biblical thing, sublime and scatological,
Gushing downhill and consuming everything not nailed-down,
Tearing up street signs and carrying off strollers.
A horse screeches, nearly de-saddling his hapless rider,
(Who nocks and fires helpless pleas in all directions),
Motivating a drove of cattle, who bolt off into the distance.
Just as all seems lost, an extrovert with leonine hair
And a first-rate tan hacks swathes into the shapeless creature
And is, in turn, trebuchet-ed into a loud clock-tower.
So, all remains lost. The water begins to spoil the land,
Mixing with the coffee and the compost.
The black ravine is now coursing, 12 feet high,
Enough, I’d think, to break the ribcage and crush the lungs
Of your average merman. Fate runs on ahead of me,
As he tends to do, urging me and everyone I know to follow.
He then trips and torpedoes into a storm drain, to drown,
Kicking and wailing, under a rancid, rising mud-sea.
Crabs nip at his exposed handles. Fish watch on, dumbly.
Letting out the last of his garbled death-sounds,
His legs jerk for the final time and droop, akimbo.
A waterlogged boot slips off to reveal a blue, bloated foot.
I watch on with my twin (both of us naked, orbiting
One another listlessly). At least, for now, it’s clean and dry
On the rooftops, we agree. Drunk on the drama,
We top up our cups at the new bankside and crack them together.
Here’s mud your eye, he says. Here’s mud in your eye, I reply.  

Days of Mercy

I strangled my broken memory of a horse
Into a clod of potter’s clay, painted it poorly:
Victory red when wet, now spiced mud.
The others eat potatoes without salt.
One fries onions in the bottom of the kettle.
I, their idiot father, inhale the fat in the air,
And rub my heavy bread-and-beer gut.
Today I was a sun dog, waiting restlessly to rise
At noon, alongside my mother, and puncture the sky.
Though my cue never came. Hurt,
Like the paunched rabbit hung up
Before me, I watched my blue entrails
Thud onto the wood-effect vinyl flooring.
My surrogate Turk aunt warned me,
Of the dangers of painkillers in times like these.
I explained, it’s only for my skull-splitting
Aches and the bulging pain behind my eye
That brewed last night, while I overslept,
(Dreaming of impostors in the NBA
And the end of days). So I chew the pill,
Readying up for my 4 o’clock early
With the rottweiler who beams back at me
From the wet, black mouth of my boiler room.

The Cosa Nostra and the Pornographer

 

The Cosa Nostra took my dog by the nape, shot her in the head, then vanished off-screen. I vowed to slaughter an animal in front of them in response. Here, my friend turned pallid, more so than I had ever seen him. He knew of these men, academically and firsthand. Though he said nothing, his terror was plain. I had dug up the sex tapes of each of my peers and made a playlist online. We all sat together now, in a hateful silence, (them seething, me a pariah in spirit) in a darkened film theatre with red velvet seats. And we sat inside the film itself (a ceaseless blockbuster). We were poorly cast stars playing out each role, odd choices. As we watched ourselves being watched by ourselves, my Second Self chased a mythic strand of proof, one that would clear my name of all crimes, overturn my charges (voyeur, pervert, pornographer) and render my promise to commit honour-suicide null and void. I surprised myself, even, when I found this dancing hair of evidence, though I’d have to wait until the end of the film to present it to the jury.

END

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The clotting of ore makes ingot, simply.

Electrical storms skip and lurch through

The dark dust clouds that circle around clapped hands,

Just as blood passes, unrelenting, through singing pipes.

For now, nothing is equal: all is equal to itself

And industry understands only three emotions:

 

I: Anger.

A jewel bug found on an upturned stone,

Put under the jackhammers, the sand rammers,

Washed upriver in a molten current, along

With the crude and the brine, body ruined

And memory banished, to fold into the great grey pull,

Seaward, to tumble up on churning concrete tides.

 

II: Indifference.

Excavators leave their bite marks in clay

Ashen soot itches on the back of a knee,

And reveals itself inside a lung long after.

Water and earth were not meant to marry,

(Only coexist), and so they make mud in protest.

Boots are scraped off at the end of the working day.

 

III: Negative Pleasure.

Fail under black gravity and drown in reverse.

The palette of the sky wanes, as The Firmament shudders

She may never heal, her loving grace is not unlike oil

Or gemstones. Over the lowly, all-stirring chiefdoms

Of industry, their might and their misery, Her rejection

Of the hammer hangs like the jawbone on the inside of a cheek.

The Ancestor

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April
hereditary weakness
thrush
loss of money
a false statement
morbid dependency
staggering sickness
champerty
megrims
paranoia
an overdose
imprisonment
instable furniture

– Madame Weyrd.

 

The Ancestor

Wore boar hide, admired himself in polished tin

And in the waxed ivory cheeks of his daughters,

Sunk barbed hooks into their hamstrung calves,

Bemoaning their thin, pink blood

(Gifts, all that he himself had given them).

And ignored their pains upon horseback riding.

He would wake up the estate with hunter’s horns

In the dead of night, when there was no hunt

And drank by the barrel until he was flammable.

He would storm the gardens, wood axe raised,

To defend his title from Franks and Romans,

Or the Goths, or the Picts, or the Entitled Poor.

Although most bets made were on his scarlet fever,

Or his pagan love of crushed flowers and tonics,

In the end it was an exotic flatfish that lodged itself

Inside his hot pipe. And so, his house watched on:

His third and fifth wives quarrelling over legacies,

Waving his drunken paper promises overhead,

His sons wrestled for trinkets and land-plots,

The niece who painted forgot to look up from her easel

Until it collapsed, revealing her subject on his back,

The birdcages around his supine throne set alight with noise

A round of cawing applause rattled the room,

Legs akimbo, his face was cross-eyed and hurt

As his house descended around his blue-ing ears.