After dark she handed round the confectionery
and the rustle of the papers excited me.
As well as the comforting chocolate colours
there were staring greens, lumps of grainy yellow
and white fondant homunculi, whose feet
were the first items to be bitten off.
I would nibble my way up through the body,
thinking about the organs I’d consumed
and which had yet to come. The head when reached
was crunched between my remorseless milk teeth.
Now there’s unwelcome knocking at the door
and parents’ voices in the social mode.
No, I will not come home! This is my home –
from now on and forever. I have left you
and shall be colonising this chaise longue,
where Phyllis sits, warm thigh pressed against mine,
biting into dusted Turkish delight
with regular little ivory teeth
and squeezing the pieces against her palate
with a pink, unspeakably catlike tongue.
by Fergus Allen
If you are in Oxford or visiting the city soon, and haven’t yet seen the exhibition Where We Begin to Look. Landscape and Poetry, there is still time! Where We Begin to Look is a collaborative exhibition by the artist Zoe Benbow and the poet, Deryn Rees-Jones, and is presented by the Poetry Society and Small World Theatre, Ceredigion. It will be at the Glass Tank at Oxford Brookes until 5 November, and you can find out more about it on the Brookes web site.
‘Sweets’ is copyright © Fergus Allen, 2010. It is reprinted from Before Troy by permission of CB editions.
Fergus Allen is 92 years old. Educated in Ireland, he moved to England during the Second World War and ended his professional career as First Civil Service Commissioner. Following retirement he has published collections with Faber and Dedalus Press as well as CBe. Writing from a lifetime of rich experience, Fergus Allen offers poems of precision and fine observation, stripped of illusion yet deeply human in their affections and glancing wit. The confusions of abroad, of childhood and memory, of love and sex and identity, are rendered in Before Troy with a bracing clarity. You can hear Fergus Allen reading from his poems at the Poetry Archive.
CB editions publishes no more than six books a year, mainly poetry and short fiction and including work in translation. Since 2008 its poetry titles have twice won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize three times. In 2011 CBe put on Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public; the event was repeated in September 2012 and this year, with over 50 publishers taking part. Find out more about the publisher from the website, where you can also sign up to the CB editions mailing list, or ‘like’ the publisher on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its activities.
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