‘Denizen Disease’ by Andrew Nightingale – The Red Ceilings Press


If poetry cannot solve the problems of the here and now, then we are in deep shit. And we are in deep shit.

And if a handbag is a handbag is a handbag is a handbag is no more than the resonance of once being innovative, then we are enjoying rhythm rather than getting into the complexities of an exploration that mirrors those difficulties.

Quick aside on this route: in a lifetime, I have not had more cups of tea then can be counted on two hands. The only one I truly remember was at a backyard fence next to the field where I was stacking and securing bales of straw on a trailer. She offered and I felt it was only polite to accept.

In this chapbook’s closing sequence of poems, A new feudalism, Andrew Nightingale does explore the tease / promise / deception / fantasy and ‘incurable hope’ of all of this as ‘The market with its deathless charm [which] has no aim, no foreseeable conclusion’.

We know this – and don’t we just, after the past few weeks of it marketing itself through the Sunak/Truss snakeoil extravaganzas – and poetry continues its struggle to illuminate and interrogate,

‘The feudalism of the muse has been replaced by the pornography of the banks.’

I corrupt that line to my purposes, but I think I am entitled to do so in The Market.

And this is my perplexed – delightfully so – reading of these eight pages of prose poem texts where ‘Whispers of doubt circulate in the square’ of their presentations: doubt and insights like ‘Keep showing us glorious private heavens in public spaces, the same secret desires written on pained faces’

What is so impenetrable about the obvious deceit and corruption? Is it really just ‘radio interference’? This sequence presents for me an intense look into the paradoxes and conflicts in what is so palpably controlling and destructive, the ‘Spirit voices’ and ‘private abysses.’

Back to tea and therefore Tea dance in nine songs, even with ten fingers (as I’ve indicated) I am unsure where to pitch my knowing. But I don’t need to: these are aural poems, if you simply listen, luxuriating in their aromas, as in 4. Lapsang Souchong,

‘Bewitched, oxidised and withered over pinewood fire,
Then ceremonial smoke and the fight begins,
The shaman’s tongue forks, she swallows the knife
And coils up into the air. She aspires for the West
Where she will tinge sunsets Krakatoan pink.’

There is a narrative thread across all nine of these and they really are quite elegant in the telling.

The day I had that cup of tea on the field-side of her fence is also when I foolishly burned my hands on the ropes I was knotting, sliding down in a hurry all those years ago.

There are poems possibly about coffee in Bean exiled and I suggest you delve into these with the other three intriguing sections to place yourself within the necessary personal grasp of a chapbook collection that does challenge and does reward.

You can get Denizen Disease here.


The writer
speaks to images
rather than craft

from which,
to look ahead,
is seen as professional.

The writer
chooses that
convenient moment

to believe
images choose me
slanting like a god across

his technical ability.
he had seriously noted it

with inaccurate pride.

(cut-up: The End of the Affair – Graham Greene)

Natural Selection

got wind
they had died:

trying to influence
in a wasp’s nest,
they had been stung

dead –
hybrid, infidel
evil, this

buried America,
Darwin daisies

blooming beside
what they did.

Congregations of,
they believed in
their churches,

a volcano of

with never
a thought for Santa
or America.

(cut-up: USA – John Dos Passos)

French Motor

Only a man who knows reason talks of
reasoning – that or he is French, unfathomably
French, knowing the limits of reason as a
paradox of principles, a thinking man at the
same time, but without a thinking machine.
The method of his is clear and commonplace,
French. The French electrify the world with
French thought: a machine cannot motor without
petrol. Starting any paradox from such a naked
state – if he is a French man at the same time – he
is carrying modern fatalism as a truism of
commonplace French thought. Nothing of motors
talks to reason, for that is brainless. Intelligence
is French; the paradox of the truism is nescience.

(cut-up/found: The Innocence of Father Brown – G.K. Chesterton)


The persons concerned in consideration of
finished pleasure have on certain occasions a
little eternity, a leisure in life of brilliant colours,
a dense pattern long upon the smooth ceremony
of unconscious sex. We should call it the
perfect dusk, known also as to ebb in these
circumstances, shadows of an old man who
smoked cigarettes when grown mellow on such
a privilege. On this occasion a part of the after-
noon was left, itself delightful, and time for tea
with his face turned to a large cup, and now a
little feast of a different quality at this interval
for an elder, and what had waned was with much
circumspection votaries of when shadows were.

(text-mix/found in: The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James)

Long Tongue

“Hm,” he said.

“Well,” I sighed.

“It’s not easy to describe. I really am ashamed of my long tongue.”

“Yes, I think it is,” I said.

I want to ask, but with weight of consideration and obviously sullenness in the bargain I can’t.

“You see,” he said.

“Must be deformed?” I inquired.

“No, sir,” he presently resumed, “something displeasing. I use it I know.”

“What sort of man…..”

“I am of the other party.”

“You might have warned me. Detestable.”

He was an extraordinary looking man. Pedantically exact. A down-right long tongue. I saw him use it.

(cut-up: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson)


To be a poet
on the playing chords
of emotion

quality escapes,


and discernment

passes back as shade.


is to have a soul.

(cut-up: Middlemarch – George Eliot)