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Moving to Cornwall

Moving to Cornwall

A friend said that he couldn’t imagine me
eating pasties. In his head
I just ate creepy crawlies.
When I slept,
belly full of butterflies,
bedbugs warned
not to let me bite,
and I dreamed
long unbroken dreams
knowing cockroaches
could survive a nuclear holocaust,
but they would not
survive me.

The Last Hundred by Aaron Kent and William Arnold, Published by Guillemot Press – Quick Review

This collection- presented on long postcards held in an old-style photo album sleeve you’d get when you picked up your almost entirely blurry disposable camera holiday photos from Boots- is a multidisciplinary collaboration of Aaron Kent’s poetry and William Arnold’s photography, produced and published by the fantastic and always innovative Guillemot Press.

Focused on a selection of locations in rural Cornwall, Aaron Kent’s poetry rings out with a contrapuntal voice equal parts university professor, ancient kraken-fearing sailor, myth revering child, and soapbox doomsayer… and It’s cool as fuck; a linguistic identity dysphoria- or confluence- that yields extra-ordinary results.

Kent’s work is rife with the best kind of contradiction. It is equally historic, delving into his subjects storied pasts for language and concepts, as it is modern in its execution and style. his reconstruction of environments is as much subjective and personal as it is matter-of-fact, brokering a parley between memory, and existing structural remnants and geography.

Arnold’s photography captures landscapes so wind-racked, the wind itself seems to present itself as an object or ghostly figure in the shots. From misty fields with sprays of wildflower, to darkling dells and the immutable spumy ocean, Arnold offers an ambience, a stage for the poetry to live and breath around like a murmuration.

The words and images pair up to provoke a darkness, a folk-horror dread. If it were possible to soundtrack books, this project would howl with dissonant strings trying to resolve into a harmony, never quite making it. Individually, the poetry and photography would be quite striking; all involved are deft in their art, but together, they present such ethereal and mythic lands tinged with the macabre of prototypical fairytales that you must remind yourself throughout are real places.

A truly beautiful project, The Last Hundred is a monochrome satchel with contents that lift the silver halide lens from the past, colouring and intensifying it, blowing the dust from attic beams into sklents of sun, and the birds in the brush back into the stormy Cornish air.

The Beautiful People’s Dead Poems

In Notre Dame there’s a bookshop
with stickers over every price and barcode,
marking each book up five, ten, twenty euros
because it’s famous.
If you buy a book
the grotesquely literate till lady asks
“Would you like a stamp”?
And every customer looks worried
and quietly asks
“Does it cost extra?”
It doesn’t, so every person says
“Yes, I’d like a stamp please”.

It’s always full of beautiful people
wearing their very best writer outfits.

Up the stairs to the left
there’s a little old piano
in a small enclave
and you’re allowed to play;
if you’re able.

Opposite the piano is a wall of post-it notes
with bits of poetry
all written by the patrons;
all in different languages,
Each one assiduously chosen
by their writer as the line
that communicates their purest essence,
waiting to be seen by a holidaying editor
who will storm the world in search of them
to publish every sick and sweet word.
But they just sit there in a sort of dogged rest,
looking somewhat cemeterial,
twitching each time somebody opens the door;
perfectly ignored
by everyone that walks by.

I picked up a book
read a page
saw the price
put it back
and played a note
for the dead poems
as I left.

The Glow

Death, I picture is much like

walking toward

a single street-

light

from a path,

black deep.

And noise

isn’t noise

but notes.

And the light isn’t light

but the absence of

the dark.

And shivers hit you all over.

Not from cold,

but strange joy.

And once more you remember

the burden it was

to cast a shadow.

 

And it’s something like

the impossibly quick

frame

between dreaming

and waking,

that is so fast that

it’s hard to imagine,

but must exist all the while.

 

Then if you die with priests at your bed

the venue will swarm

and pick your bones clean of a soul,

pray and regurgitate.

So angels like baby birds will devour you once more.

 

And if you die by your love

your soul will travel in them.

For that is the heaven you know

 

And if you die by your enemy’s hand,

at least

you’re not alone.

 

And if you die alone,

then

I am

sorry,

and so should we all

be.

 

We were never one,

though people like to say it,

but desolate,

isolated

things.

Unless we

found each other

in the dark.

 

I’m sorry

I never

found

you.

 

The Argonauts

Moved down the hall
of an upscale
shopping centre
in Paris, where they worked,
like
berserkers cut for the modern,
uncompromising men.
They had it all.
What did they need to stop for?
To contemplate,
to claim,
to pray for,
to perfect.
Not even for the girl
in a sun dress
sat on the floor in the shade
against a polished marble pillar
that so many would stop breathing for,
and on their way past
made her stand and hold her bags,
but she won out.
She had
Strong legs,
and hair as long as her.

And I know that such a thing as the soul exists

because those men were each
so clearly, and
fatally bereft of one

and had a lot of things and objects.

Leather of the Minotaur’s neck
and those good, good looks
like Hylas, had he loved
his wet nymphs for a night,
then murdered them all
in their sleep,
leaving pond life to nibble
at their opened throats –
Sailed away with Hercules.
And nice suits and watches and socks

and this
and that.

and themselves.

They’ll never look at the moon,
crescentic, and stained
and say
it looks like orange peel.
They won’t see the moon at all.
They’re not looking for the moon.
They have it all.
They’re so sure.
Everyone is so sure.
They have it,
and they move
as the bloodied
Butcher
For his pig.
Cool as killers
Inviolable.
Deathless.

They were closing in on
some tiny body
dressed in deep blue
overalls.
A man with a spine like a shepherd’s crook,
and purple apostrophe eyes
mopping the stairs.
The smallest man I’d seen in Paris.
He must have looked like a bug
to them.

They came close.

No
said the bug.

But they heard him not.

They came closer.

About to stomp him

Closer still.

NO!

said the bug

loudly,
looking up,
raising his arm out
with a flattened palm.

And lo,

the men
were still
and scrunched their noses and
looked around,
as if for some glass wall they’d mistaken
for air.

They glared down heavy
with eyes like knives,

but the old man was gone back to his art.
They growled and flapped,
but the man
never looked back
up,
not once.

The men stooped off
cursing and defeated
a different way,
to some distant staircase.

And you know
there’s such a thing as the soul.

It lets a bug
be a lion.

And a demi god

bleed.

Poetry Is Dead

There’s a place nearby,
a bar part way up a hill
that hosts spoken word
nights. And you
can go there,
and say your piece
for one free beer,
and no one there to hear it.

Sometimes
on a good night,
there’s the old man
who smokes
his cigarette naturally,
and you feel it was never placed between his lips
by hands, or
devices of any kind.
It just grew
out one day from between
those cockled red yellow slugs,
and glows there,
like a burst of daisies
from cracks in a wall.
And you’re not so sure he hears
much else than
the wind,
and the bells
to call last,
the sound of women moaning
madly
in his memories.
And softly,
cracking and persistent below,
the sound
of his initials being
etched
immovable into
the wood of the reaper’s sickle.

When he talks
it’s to himself,
wrapped in smoke
toiling in serpentine coils,
but if you’re smart

you’ll listen.

Calmly,
you’ll listen.

To how he’d steal roses
from cemeteries
to give to his sweetheart.
Of his grandfather who
died of a heart attack
making love to the maid,
while his wife laboured downstairs,
working on tea.

Then too,
he has these un-closing,
smashed window
eyes,
deep in, under sad brows,
a face like
a gravestone with no name.
All pissed on,
prayed for.
With no flowers been set down.
Just that one daisy that’s grown.
And you can go there
and say your piece for
one free beer,
and no one to hear,
while fools
say poetry is dead.

Lovers

The pen
glides, spilling
its heart
in loops and lines
on a tattooed page of illegible text.
The pen-craft leaving each letter bowed,
as if courteously leaning to kiss
the hand of the next.

It’s placed in the cleft
of a craterous
pillow and left
on a bed
well used,

like the only couch in a cafe
to the brim with wooden stools
with no backs,
and too tall for the tables they’re at;

a bed all worn out,
like a great,
great, great grandfather’s
house shoes.

©zacharyd’mitripoetry