Poet, Novelist, and Critic
The Slasher and the Vampire as Role Models (to be published by Parthian Press)
Three excerpts from my new book of poems.
Night chill, and red heat far as the day stretches,
desert rocky and high, beyond all laws,
coyotes somewhere, thin air, apaches,
and the tall man easy on the brisk horse.
I used to think I drove the wild route
like this of a secret outsider.
Lofty in my big truck, a charming brute.
Alert while others slept, an easy rider.
Out on the edges of your sleep I steered
through badlands all my own, concealed frontiers
in England like a dream trail I pioneered -
until the weight of civilised English years
closed around me like dripping viney elms.
I lost a freedom I could never own,
the landscape stretching out of U.S. films.
The wary stranger in the wooden town
trots in from a place so open to question
maps can only guess, and so unfenced and raw
that any minute in the shifting Western
the lawman changes into the outlaw.
But rails and blocked roads are knotted tight
across these midlands rotting with wet heat.
I feel I must’ve tensed up for a gunfight
then fallen with a foot wound writhing in defeat.
Or I’m a fridge that’s off: inside me, mince
warms and turns - because the English air is thick
with used-up thoughts and dust from crowded skins.
But in the glove compartment my sidekick
chambers its bullets safely. It’s fated.
Scorching in this lane I doze in my cab
and clingy branches crowd me. I’ve mutated
like a virus released from a lab:
the bullets, bursting from that steel grip, will see,
beyond their blur of speed, the big change, and pierce
through to where they turn a fierce key
that opens England up with weird frontiers.
Thirty yards from the violent martyr
I survived, but fragments of the mall
invaded my face and scalp.
A fortnight later, driving to work,
I pictured tweezers at my skin
and thought the headland might feel
the tunnel as a foreign body,
cream cement and steady light and engines
driven through its side.
And I remembered a mosque
converted with statues and portraits,
sandstone breathing alien prayers.
So maybe it was that which grew
the nodule in my nape
my doctor opened up, extracting
a smithereen that she declared
a morsel of the bomber’s knee.
You’re cold and tired and grubby
and struggling to know how to be
when you check into the Heartbreak lobby
to pick up the Heartbreak key.
You’re looking for the Street
but no it’s Lonely Street,
that same narrow bed.
The walls and carpets flash their logo,
sheets, and boxes of matches:
deeply its square tattoo
brands you with its H’s.
Straight away you are healing
when that pillow marks your head,
so where there was that feeling
there’s a corporate sign instead.
You broach the Heartbreak minibar
to chase away your distress,
peering through a glass of beer
at the Heartbreak trouser-press.
You check out but discover
it’s a chain,
you thought you’d erased your lover,
but now you’re checking in again:
the vistas diverge and climb
but only glitter to deceive,
where you can check out any time,
but you can never leave.
To contact me:
|Devolved Voices - Interview|
|Devolved Voices - Readings|