A gang of shepherd boys minding their own
rib-caged cows. When a yellow can appears
in a dust cloud. Like soda or a sleeve
of tennis balls, clasped in a corona
of tabs known as The Spider. Casing scored
so as to better shatter in a blast
of stampeding shrapnel that will strip all
clothes and flay any naked skin, leaving
pulped, cauterized stumps. Tinkling like wind chimes
after the wetter thuds. The tiny chute
hangs limply from the lip. Designed to drift
silently, otherworldly, increasing
our scatter radius. Preset to detonate
at precise heights or times. Or with the thrum
of traffic, the plosives of speech. Tremors
of the lightest footfalls. Two boys running
off in search of a father. The one boy
holding the canister suggests, Maybe
we’ll find some food inside? The other one
slips his knife beneath the tab to find out
what’s inside The Spider.
by Dan O’Brien
A reminder that as part of the MCS Arts Festival Oxford, Azfa Awad, Youth Ambassador for Poetry (a position co-sponsored by Oxford Brookes and Oxford City Council), will be reading in Oxford alongside the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, this Thursday 3 July from 7.30-9.30pm. For more details, visit the festival website.
This year’s Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public, organized by this week’s publisher, CB editions, is taking place on 6 September. See below for more details.
‘The War Reporter Paul Watson and the Boys with the Bomblet’ is copyright © Dan O’Brien, 2013, and is reprinted from War Reporter (CB editions, 2013) by permission of CB editions.
Notes from CB editions:
Dan O’Brien is an American playwright and poet living in Los Angeles. His play The Body of an American was the inaugural winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, and was produced in London in January 2014. War Reporter – which won the 2013 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize – derives from a collaboration between the poet and the war reporter Paul Watson, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 photograph of a dead American being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and has since reported from the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Read more from Dan O’Brien’s book on the CBe website, and find out why CBe decided to publish the book on its blog. You can also follow O’Brien’s work on his own website and via Twitter.
CB editions, founded in 2007, publishes poetry alongside short fiction and other writing, including work in translation. Its poetry titles have won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize three times (in 2009, 2011 and 2013), and have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize.
In 2011 CBe inaugurated 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 2012 and 2013, with over 50 publishers taking part, and has become an annual event. The next fair will take place on 6 September at Conway Hall in London. 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.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.