The Limits of Gnomes

It is
supply and demand, and
the chain,

all the way
to the Suez Canal
and back again,

or not,
depending on hope ever being
green again.

There is a
shortage in raw materials
but not puns

or irony: all those
rosy-cheeked lockdown smiles
lost in their

fairy-tale diminishing,
or not. A nation that needs to
deal with things

also needs the
alchemy of familiars,
that fishing or

pissing in gardens
like the sound as normalcy
of a night outside.

Seating is depleted
too – nowhere new to sit as we
watch and wait

for the blockages and
virus to subside, turn diminution
into the magical.


Knowledge Con

(erasure from Chapter Twenty-Five: Theories of Knowledge – Democracy and Education by John Dewey)

Perhaps like Peggy Seeger’s new album First Farewell, this is possibly the last of these found poems taken from philosophical texts (in the main), 59 in all. I haven’t posted all of them here, but most, as some are soon to be published in online poetry journals. I also have a few others, and may be tempted to write more – it is an immersion I enjoy – but the 59 are a clear majority and core of the sequence.

This ‘last’ is fitting in that I do have a particular dislike of the current trend to the ‘knowledge’ curriculum. I won’t expand on that here as I have elsewhere on this blog, but I make the point in how these found texts do subvert their original sources, either to flip on their heads, so to speak, or to disrupt, dismantle, ridicule and so on.

i.m. Harry Guest

As a memory of the poet Harry Guest who passed yesterday, I am reposting this:

Uncut Poets with Harry Guest, Phoenix Theatre, Exeter Poetry Festival, 27th September, 2017

I attended the Uncut Poets with Harry Guest last night at the Phoenix Arts Centre. This was part of the Exeter Poetry Festival and I did particularly want to see Harry read.

My poem that follows seems the most apt way to characterise the evening. I could only stay for the first part, but as Harry read during this, that was perfect. I also enjoyed the other open-mic performers I saw where the eclecticism of such a night is given its free voice.

The poem is as the evening was, with only the very slightest licence. The dancing above was a little annoying, but also hilarious – not the dancing itself, I’m sure, but its second-hand intrusions.

harry guest

Poetry Reading with Harry Guest

I wrote this one in my head…

At the front, the fold-away table’s legs are
taped together to stop any words from

collapsing and falling to the floor.
A poet sitting next to me – we are all writers,

surely – has friends currently out in Baghari
as I read the text message over her shoulder.

Another to my right and in the front row has
one loaf of wholemeal bread in a carrier bag

from which she could later recite her slices of life.
The first reader has secreted a series on molluscs

to now un-shell and let crawl around our seats.
Open-mic number two is introduced –

James Taylor! – and a swift correction follows
of his surname, then the cover-up joke on how

he might serenade us with You’ve Got a Friend,
the bum note of irony immediate when

James introduces the first poem titled No 13 from
a sequence about his loneliness and depression.

Harry reads after the fifth, first of the two invited
writers with his surname aptly as one Guest.

His words fill the room with softly spoken
certainties, his own and translations mainly from

the French, Jean Cassou’s Trente-trois sonnets
composés au secret, poems composed in his head

when in Vichy prison. Harry’s love of language
also resists the boundaries of what it is that divides,

even tonight where in the performance room above,
busy feet of the Bharatanatyam dancing competes.

I leave at the break, miss the next five and other guest,
but I have a poem to recall at home and transcribe.

One of Harry’s more recent poems The Last Intruder – superb – is posted at the excellent Stride magazine here.