At twilight

Beneath a chicken that scratches
the landscape slides
towards our intimacy.
The potted plant in the balcony
not exceeding its season in flowers.
The helpless way my head
is balanced at the window,
like in Modigliani’s necklines.
Your hips—a single shape
bivalve, dehiscent.
And the quietness of the breeze in the area of these lines
that, so it appears,
draws the bed-linen to your feet.

by Sebastão Alba

From: Charrua and Beyond: Poems from Mozambique

Sebastão Alba (1940-2001) was a member of the post-independence generation of Mozambican poets. A contemporary of Mia Couto, Eduardo White and Luís Carlos Patraquim, he did not achieve their international success and died a beggar on the streets of Maputo.

THE LUSOPHONE PROJECT: Maria Luísa Coelho, Ana Raquel Fernandes, Tula Teixeira, Jonathan Morley & Ana Teresa Brízio Marques Dos Santos began translating poetry from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa in 2005. They have published two collections from Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. A second Mozambican anthology, featuring the older generation of writers who emerged before independence, is planned.

The Heaventree Press is an independent poetry press based in Coventry. For more information on Heaventree, and to buy Charrua and Beyond: Poems from Mozambique, please visit the Heaventree Press website. 

Gerald Variations

Maybe you have an empty room to charter to his likeness; but you do not know this Gerald by whom I am enthralled – because he renovates my mind with his very presence like a hardback anthology of insights I dip into whenever I am bedridden by a head-cold. And unfortunately asking him about it is out of the question.

Maybe you have a missing button that fell into the bouillabaisse; but you do not know this Gerald whom I cannot stand – for the esoteric arrogance of his every utterance is like a vital ritual in an obscure and terrifying religion. And unfortunately he is not here to defend himself.

Maybe you have exaggerated the dubious moral relativism of your township’s museum; but you do not know this Gerald to whom I am indifferent – for his trespasses have come to disappoint me, like the overstated hallucinogenic properties of a harmless dried root. And unfortunately I have spent all the money intended for utility bills.

Maybe you have recorded an album with a caged seagull and two agnostic percussionists; but you do not know this Gerald whom I love – for I have known the fiscal security of his patronage like a doctor’s hand against my heart. And unfortunately he will not extend the same courtesy to you.

Maybe you have manufactured and sold a range of oblivion-flavoured sweets; but you do not know this Gerald whom I loathe – for I have felt the humiliation of his scorn like fat spitting from a frying pan or fireworks in a celebration against me. And unfortunately I was too taken aback to retaliate.

Maybe you have had sex on a bicycle without sustaining or bestowing a single injury; but you do not know this Gerald with whom I am currently eating a hot dog – because we are both hungry. And unfortunately I have dripped mustard onto his copy of The Cloud of Unknowing.

Maybe you have sought his face in cross-sections of courgette; but you do not know this Gerald to whom I am currently dealing little deaths – because I trod in dog excrement on my way back from the post office. And unfortunately I am wearing shoes with an especially deep tread.

Maybe you have skipped across the rocks and broken your leg on an abandoned rowing boat; but you do not know this Gerald to whom I feel superior – as, for all his intelligence, he has forsaken his humility and humours my ideas like a cat toying with a shrew. And unfortunately the irony of the situation is lost on me.

by Luke Kennard

From The Harbour Beyond the Movie
Shortlisted for Best Collection in the Forward Poetry Prizes 2007

Luke Kennard is an award-winning poet, critic, dramatist and research student at the University of Exeter. His first collection of prose poems The Solex Brothers was published by Stride Books. He has worked as regional editor for Succour, a bi-annual journal of poetry and short fiction and as an associated reader for The Kenyon Review. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2005.

Web page and podcast of the poem available at Salt Publishing

Review quotes

“When was the last time you laughed out loud at a poem? If you can’t remember (and chances are you can’t), treat yourself to The Harbour Beyond the Movie. Luke Kennard considers pressing contemporary issues – from comparative economics to journalistic accountability – via a wittily didactic brand of surrealism which renders the politics palatable … Kennard’s collection proves that humour is a neglected but effective tool in the poet’s arsenal.” – Sarah Crown, The Guardian

“To read him is to be startled into remembering exactly how exciting and energetic language can be, as it forces us to face the poignant absurdity of experience and to laugh out loud or cry in equal measure. Kennard is an undoubted original, driven by a mature intelligence and a giant wit, yet guided by the wisest, self-deprecating heart. A brilliant new writer you simply must not miss.” – Andy Brown

“Luke Kennard’s The Harbour Beyond the Movie is scintillating, funny and often moving.  Reading it reminded me of how I felt when I first read Muldoon, tuning into a new frequency, the frisson of hearing a voice for the first time: so eerie and odd and delightful – you realise that is why you were searching in the first place.” – David Morley

Horses

When we can’t look at each other, eye-to-eye,
I think of horses sidling up to each other,
shying away from each other,
how horses stand like strangers,
eyes on the side of their long heads. 

Look into the ball of the eye, slit
horizontal like a letter box,
so unlike our own round pupil;
inside you will find a blind
pulled over its blazing star.

Beside my bed stand four carved horses:
a Spanish horse of pink quartz,
as highly polished as the shoes of a tango dancer;
a yellow horse, heavy and translucent
as a solid sea, with a heart-line of turquoise;
an ancient horse of marble that doesn’t look
like a horse, inscribed with petroglyphs
from the south west;
light shines through my precious amber horse,
as if through fossilized honey.

There is a gentleness between them,
these horses of the herd. 
It’s not a question of beauty or resemblance:
to the Zuni a fetish is only of value if it works.
I feed them cornmeal.  I need their strength.

by Sharon Morris

from False Spring (2007)

The poems in Sharon Morris’s first collection are both meditations on mortality and nature, and sharp edged celebrations of life – in turn tender, incantatory, dramatic, quotidian and elegiac. The three sections describe three different places, metaphorically and geographically: in ‘False Spring’ the poet takes us out into the open spaces, the wildernesses at the edge of the city of San Francisco, touching on the myth of Persephone. This mythic thread is carried on through ‘Rome’, where the city’s overlaid histories parallel the tension between what is revealed and what is hidden, while the final section ‘Salt of Almonds’, through the image of the desert in Spain, speaks of what will persist and endure.

Sharon Morris was born in west Wales and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, where she is currently a senior lecturer. She has exhibited photography, film and video, and performed live artworks bringing together spoken text and projected images. Having completed a PhD in 2000 on the relation between words and images, referring to writer H.D. and artist Claude Cahun, she continues to write on semiotics, visual theory and poetics, for which she received a Leverhulme research fellowship in 2003. Her poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Tying the Song (Enitharmon, 2000), the first anthology from The Poetry School, and In the Company of Poets (Hearing Eye, 2003).

Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.

Joke Blood

The self-dyed tennis-shoes’ new burgundy
soaking my socks I made an expedition
to the office block where I knew you worked

past the castle mount   old marmalade factory
static canal   out of a toy-box

Part-time in polling seven pounds an hour
you surveyed on hoovers and microwaves

were you happy / very happy / not happy at all

Drunk since breakfast I had to sit down
cool air a bad knock ache a concussion

I wandered a clown big foot cartoon
squeezing and swelling in the mangle crowd
what could I pour out to you that was real

I started to run through the city like a slave

by Graeme Richardson

from Hang Time by Graeme Richardson (Landfill, 2006)
Copyright © Graeme Richardson

Hang Time is a sequence of free sonnets about youthful experiences. The unpunctuated verse of ‘Joke Blood’ gathers pace from the painful romantic comedy of its first eight lines (the octave) to the more urgent realisation of despair in the final six (the sestet). As in the classic English love sonnets of Sidney and Shakespeare, the poet goes from being love’s clown to love’s slave. Graeme Richardson is Chaplain of Brasenose College, Oxford. His poetry criticism has appeared in Areté magazine and his poetry in the magazine 14.

Landfill Press was founded in Norwich in 2004 as a publisher of contemporary poetic sequences.

The Last Time I Saw Paris

Will I never see Paris again? It may well be.
Or Salina Cruz? Almost certainly.
But London: surely I’ll live that long.
And Ischia, Naples, Capri – I must see them again,
        Although I don’t know when.
        Not tomorrow, but soon.

And which are the dishes I have unwittingly
Tasted a final time? Stewed tripe? I can live
With that. Various fruits peculiar to Brazil.
But not, I beg of fate, Aunt Cece’s lemon pudding.
        For I mean to make some more.
        Not tomorrow, but soon.

And which are the friends I’ll see no more,
Whether by their demise or mine,
Or merely through the slow attrition
Of concern: what are their names?
        If I knew, I’d phone.
        Not tomorrow, but soon.

by Tom Disch