Toadstool tops.  Two.  Cracked as nana’s old
knee sore.  And you launched one: thumb-spun
higher than a dollar – your mouth – that catpink
ridge-beam waiting; barely budged your chin to
grind it like a roof tile; offered the other, pathetic
as a button on your outstretched palm.  And I
snatched it quick as a whisker, bit, felt my tongue
melt caverns deep inside, release its acrid-sweet
almond adultness –
                                  which I dribbled out in spite
of the almost-shake of your loaf, the high arches
of your brows.  Then you tunnelled the wrapper
between fingers to roll a joke, a giant’s
cigarillo from air’s tobacco; stood it
end first on ma’s stainless tea tray, flicked
your flint lighter to chase the tip with flame
which seeped downwards, filled my head
with burning –
                                  until, at the last,
it wobbled, transfigured, a ganglion
of desire there, rose up into our cathedralled
Italian stairwell: willed wisp of your making
who stood, an edifice of father frowning
his gargoyled wonder into mine, our wish
held up by ash, all trembling, climbing
into hallowed space.

by Mario Petrucci

from Flowers of Sulphur (2007)

Flowers of Sulphur crackles with metaphorical energy.  Over a decade in the making, this remarkable new book confirms Petrucci’s reputation for exploring the gamut of human experience.  It demonstrates, once again, his rare capacity to bridge the gap between science and poetry with power and authenticity. ‘As with the best poets, thinking and feeling are, for Petrucci, a single act’ (George Szirtes). Indeed, just as we now know that light is both corpuscular and wave-like in nature, so Flowers of Sulphur is able to embody many, often seemingly paradoxical, qualities.  These poems ring with complexity and clarity: like our quantum world, this award-winning collection reinvents itself moment to moment so as to unsettle, move and inspire us.

Mario Petrucci is an ecologist, physicist and war poet. He is also the only poet to have been in residence at the Imperial War Museum. His book-length sequence on Chernobyl won the Daily Telegraph / Arvon International Poetry Competition in 2002. A Natural Sciences graduate, Mario works as an educator and a radio/TV broadcaster. Poems from Heavy Water are featured in Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Acumen, Agenda, on BBC Radio and at The Royal Festival Hall. Flowers of Sulphur has won an Arts Council of England Writers’ Award and the London Arts New London Writers Award, but also collects together many individual prize-winning poems, including successes in the Bridport, the London Writers Competition, and Frogmore and the National Poetry Competition.

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