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Smoke magazine - issue 45  Just a Click away
Committal... Matt Simpson | Piano S. McDermott | Bite Jennifer Copley | Strictly Tempo Pauline Plummer | Markings Andrew Hawthorne | Waiting Zoe Skoulding | The Uncertainty of Angels Paul Donnelly | Watching Denny Derbyshire | Arrival Linda K. | Cormorants Brian Mackey | Towers Rebecca Goss | Knowledge John Hilton | Nine Months and Five Days Alison Eir Jenks | Lipstick Janice Fixter | Second hand Souvenir steve sneyd
Smoke magazine - issue 44  below
No ideas but in things C Watts | Meeting in Mogadishu David HW Grubb | Amen Glyn Wright | Cathars Marian Barnes | Developing Patrick Williamson | Semi-Industrial Landscape Howard Wright | we are come to this great stage sean burn | from Composition XIV Ernie Hilbert | Growing Afraid of the Dark Frank Dullaghan | Coming to terms Joan Poulson |Paper escapes Mike Jenkins | At cwm Pennant Kevin Crossley-Holland | Sand-pit at Smuggler's Pightle Joanna Watson
No ideas but in things
man say knife cut
friend say knife cut
see knife cut
cut with knife
be cut with knife
see man with knife
run for it
Morning in Mogadishu
At five in the morning the women of Mogadishu
weep moon. They have lived into another day
and something has survived. They wait to eat.
This food will give them light, rain, ruins and
the pain that nestles like a small child they once loved.
They occupy other peoples' houses or garages or survive
in umbrella domed huts constructed of brush and trash.
Nothing is wasted. Nothing is stolen. Each day
is taken for its small possibility. They wait
for the General to break out and proclaim.
They wait for the Americans to pack up and desert.
They wait for their God to replace the media and the
foriegners with machines. They wait for the nums
to fly in with neat little gardens and pictures
to put on the walls of schools and playrooms.
They wait for the wild animals to return. Meanwhile
they get up out of cold dreams and eat flags
and smell the ocean and remember the sound
of animals and wonder where they are hiding.
David HW Grubb
Green Park is the gang's place now. Spraynames brag and snarl.
The bandstand is a pair of stumps, and the statues have walked.
And Michael thinks that washing up is done by fairies.
And Sarah smokes and lies about it through her cough.
And Beccy? ... Yes, Beccy is still that ever-ticking tantrum.
And they're all money fiends. As if I have my own machine.
I've been sheltering in the Festival Chorus five years.
Very strict: Don't be late twice, and learn your lines.
I have chains and spyhole. And I go the long way round.
Your breath becomes a Psalm. Rejoice and you can believe.
You do shouts of anguish in the Chorus, but also joy.
You put on black and take your place in the long row,
and your voice rises high up there where angels live;
where the skies are never made of ashen clouds,
and the wheeze of autumn doesn't strip the trees to bones.
Gran would take me to the Rose Garden. There was a scent
like mint. You get this lovely flow, all the voices soaring.
Bushy Way is another lurking place. But this is a home
not a jail. You open your throat and sing like a fury.
The rehearsal, though, was rolling on when I rushed in.
I'd been playing house detective over missing coins.
And the buses: you wait half a lifetime, and then they arrive
in a wagon train. But he pointed me back through the door
saying: Sorry, that's it, you're out, there has to be rules.
I said: No, no, you can't do that. You don't understand.
As if the feather of your voice brushes against
the scented heads of divine flowers
whose perfumed breath, like thyme or lavender,
carries you still higher until you walk across
the night sky using the stars as stepping stones.
And when you arrive
you let go
Single and several are the ways of pain.
This one strikes upward from the rock,
Lean and cadaverous is its narrow way.
Only the compassionate man sees any light
As he falls and breaks upon the mortared steps.
How their voices call softly on the night wind.
Taken in blood, the unrighteous and the just
Together make common company.
At the third stroke, the hand curls shut
Upon an iron hook. And all are one.
A bell tolls the dolorous stroke.
On a hilltop, three doves rise to spear the sun.
the murdered zinc
I take refuge: clock
ticking, pipe smoking.
Cranes like grazing
let them descend
on razed living space.
Another piece of sky disappears.
tips up the bottle,
combs his hair.
Semi-industrial landscape with a car in the canal
You hadn't noticed the landfill site, the flytipping,
the sculptural effect of the car nose-down in the mud.
Of course, how they all got there is another question entirely.
A punctured football is also stuck and will stay there
for as long as there's cider in bottles and a stretch
in the evenings for us to enjoy it with our feet in the roar
from the lock-gates, and our friend the giant hogweed
is a burnt-out case - a `triffid' as your green-fingered mother
called any anthropomorphic plant life with malevolent properties.
Its dead and dying gang blackens the other side of the canal,
poisoning the swans and threatening the kennels and auto-shops,
the barbecues and pigeon-lofts which so perfectly maketh
the housing estates of Manderley, Clanbrassil and Kensington
on this periphery; the edge of town. Chainlink junkyards
and wired-off bridges. Ears pricked, a feline church
squats on its haunches above what has become a sodium arena.
By now the tow-path approaching these low-level suburbs
is a childhood of rose-hips, seet briar and wooden fences.
It swings us under a flyover past the concrete supports
where a neo-punk with a broad brush is eliminating graffiti
libelling his parentage. Further on, a few Pringle golfers
practice woods and long irons from a good lie on the touchline
of the grammar school's playing fields to between the distant
chipped uprights precisely aligned with the alluvial shallows
and the face-down jalopy. But judging by their aim
you would love to take the brush and paint a target on the car's
dinged roof as a statement about their inability, their loss.
we are come to this great stage of fools (from Leery)
posed fae famly pickchur
oxters heave and sweat
foriyn heat beats on balding head
nylon shirt wet wi cum slips off
daddy leer topless fist
clenched roon pint o home made bulldog
bleached beached leviathan
oot backie o hoose brought frae cooncil
he claws at two fingered salute
cheap cig tween stained fingers
parts narrow lips
the accusing aperture starts:
its bin sae lang
since aa settled their disputes
they askt advice askt ma permission
an brocht stuff too eightpacks fags
a gross o lighters wan time
chuckt the pinkuns o course
drums o petrol diesel oil
bits oota engines
back issues o fiesta playboy
they paid me ommage they knew respeck
lost ma kingdom whin we moved
kept movin ended in th caul north sea
cam back agin
knowin there was royal blood wi in
none o this common red muck
mine waz thick
lak the thames flowin past parleyment
herrytage strang as englan hersel
from Composition XIV
I am overjoyed by ovulations & everything else--
casual miracles & breakfast cereals--
witness to the blank eternity of the fading calendar--
walking alone in Autumn rains,
graves soaking the infinate wet waste of Aeons in their veins--
axcid-eaten linen on the coffin of the XX Century--
soldier-saint, armourer, peasant of heaven,
saviour of old car radios,
invoked to travel in sorrow
through syphilitic sceneries,
blighted legends burned down in cycles of centuries,
spiralling celebration of beheaded confessors,
generous jesters--ride the leer-jet swan of St. Hugh
over awesome airways of pigeon glory--
suffer on the searing fire w/ St. Eustace,
travelled from eastern anniversaries to consecrate
& spare the crucifix-scarred stag in ancient opal forests--
ignite an international incident w/ Ignatius--devour flowers
w/ Longinus as he pierces the rib,
strikes the sun, sees again, tooth wrenched out
& tongue harvested for salvation,
breaking the idols that dislocate neon demons
to demolish his den,
grab the governor, possess the prioress,
healed like us all only in death--understand the ecstatic toothache
and apologia of St. Appollonia--
mend miracles w/ Michael the Weaver, brother poet-saint of Philadelphia--
seduce the strange sister of Sienna,
and leave a lily to lie by her softest bed
in God's most radiant morning ......
Growing afraid of the dark
Outside the wind is a skirmish.
The ghost of my lamp hangs in darkness.
I am afraid to do more than glance out;
of meeting my own eyes.
Knowing full well that all shapes are borrowed,
I fear the shock of my own.
I woke this morning with my fingers bunched,
almost fused, the knuckles bleeding,
mud from fingertip to elbow.
My legs were the same.
My heart was galloping
and my body swam in its sweat.
I have fragments of dreams - a fast road,
a weight hard on my back.
My wife's hair gleams like new copper,
her eyes could dance you out of your skin.
Never a word about the state of me,
the tirdness that kept me in bed,
but `Take your rest,'she said,
`we'd a grand time last night.'
And I saw fields flashing by,
felt my limbs hammering the earth
Coming to terms
The blackbird draws her
she's always said
they'll live in the country
together, some day
Yesterday she'd scarcely
yellow tissue paper man.
A pine bonsai, grown from
seed, flaunts full-sized needles
in the hills, she'd planned,
where they'd always ended up
on rides in her childhood
at the pine needles,
ripping away excessive energy.
It's possible to let go
a dream; this other too sudden,
she isn't ready, tries to negotiate
one more summer ...
A door slams
ends the blackbird's song;
he lifts, flies,
black on grey
the sky never quite clear
in the city.
attempts to gain time
into her hand.
In the yard there's a patch
of mossy grass; she scatters
the pine needles
broadcast in brief flight.
On her fingers
of the hills.
Little black books
like school bibles
easy to hand
shiny as guns
if it's not written down
it doesn't exist
if in doubt
fill in a form:
a plan for life
no yellow-sprayed hair
no graffiti's sprawl
no rings in noses
no Pucker Georges:
polished as a scream
the set-off fire-alarm's
when catching break
opening like hand-cuffs
and paper blows
(tons of it)
with November leaves
becoming itself and screeing
down the banks, through
the sun-sluicing fence,
away across the estate
like the end of the year.
During the years leading up to Stalin's death,
when every political commentator
was attempting to predict his successor,
not one of them mentioned Khruschev,
not even as a remote possibility
a stalking horse, an unknown, an outsider.
Even after the last breath
was strangled from Stalin's body,
news bureaux found no evidence
that he was a rival to anyone.
Yet he must have fought his corner well
to have survived, to have emerged
from the welter of blood and dust
which surrounded the exit of Beria,
of Molotov and Malenkov.
And with this as a template,
surely someone should have forseen
the way this table dominates the room,
how close we have to stand
to secure the shiny paper,
the way your finger bends to flatten the ribbon
and above the twist and turn
of a perfect reef knot,
this gentle, deliberate, drawing in of the bow,
tighter, then tighter still.
At Cwm Pennant (for Valerie)
How could I haul back the ruckled
branch, all warts and elbows,
rocking in the light wind,
singing with a cracked voice?
And how could I shoulder the massive
slab of state, smooth-skinned,
lichen-studded, where I stooped
beneath the lintel into memory?
At my heel horseflies jostled
over a lump of chestnut dung;
drifts of clouds dreamdustered
the disused quarry and the scree;
and at the head of the valley
I hunted for the source again
- that hidden place where rock
utters and the first words flow.
I could not bring you back
sopping sheep, or their thick scent,
or the light show, or the sense
of sleep and such keen waking;
but from downstream, where water
slaloms over mirror-rock, then
buckets into a miniature ravine,
here, these quick, clean syllables.
Sand-pit at Smuggler's Pightle
Under dappled shadows,
purple cherries pecked by starlings,
winged needles black and gold
invade the red sand-pit.
There she squats, so still,
blonde curls, pale freckles,
puzzles over earthy squiggles,
whirls of debris cold and sticky
in the morning sun.
She pats out speckled sand-cakes,
nutures crumbling edges,
granules moist with oyster tears;
in her warming stove.
She bakes a feast for angels:
rock cakes spiced with cockles,
walnut sponge with frothy icing,
chocolate logs with swirling waves
of cream, cherry pearls on buns.
Barmbrack beckons. She chews -
the centre of a doughnut ring.
Worms recycle buried treasure,
cast flecked pebbles, scalloped threads.
Tides of life ingest, expell ...
Who dares to count the cherry stones?
Copyright in these poems is © the individual poets 1997