Female Nude, circa 1916

North of the Somme, the birds stop
Singing, sensing silence is the anthem
Fit for no-man’s-land, for foetal
Bodies drowned in mud, draped
Like weekend washing across lines
Of viper wire.  Spent shells

Nest in craters, nothing blue
And speckled waiting for a tapping break
But everywhere the litter of limbs
And bayonets red with stranger’s blood.
In frontline trenches, lovesick
Soldiers pencil notes as time

Ticks towards the whistles
For over-the-top commands, about
The time a police commissioner
On the Rue Taitbout is
Tearing down Modigliani nudes,
Affronted by full frontal pubic hair.

by Tim Cunningham

from Unequal Thirds (Peterloo, 2006)

Tim Cunningham’s poem “Female Nude, circa 1916” comes from his second collection Unequal Thirds (Peterloo, 2006).  His first collection was Don Marcelino’s Daughter (Peterloo, 2001) which was favourably reviewed in the TLS by Peter Reading.  Adrian Mitchell has written “Tim Cunningham’s poems are as various and fascinating as the animals in Noah’s Ark.  He has a most musical ear, a keen eye and an open heart.”  Tim Cunningham was born in Limerick in 1942 and has lived in Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, the U.S.A. and London.  At present he lives in Billericay.

Peterloo Poets was founded by Harry Chambers, still the Publishing Director, in 1976. Its masthead is “poetry of quality by new or neglected poets”. Peterloo publishes between 8 and 10 volumes of poetry a year, runs an annual poetry competition – the 2008 competition will be the 24th – and, since 1999, an annual International Poetry Festival.

“From time to time it has seemed to me that the Peterloo Poets series is a haven of poetic sanity in a world of modish obfuscation.”
Michael Glover, British Book News