‘Santa Lucia’ by Charlie Baylis – Invisible Hand Press


Day begins full circle and, by coincidence, there are a number of recurring threads/references that bring light to this opening section – the most brightly being colours, and then there are beach police who

‘litter the pier with fashionable novels’

and will later play hopscotch when they are

‘talking about anne sexton’

The ‘bluest eyes’ and ‘blue snow’ are early colourings along with ‘pink and white clouds’ and ‘panoramic green’ and ‘purple tea’, and this colourful array – dominant like the book’s cover – only becomes a little less happy when those police

‘arrest the elvis impersonator for his extravagant belt of blue’

Then there is yellow, and there are yellow saints

‘who write about sex with donkeys’

and we move on to ‘apricot lakes’ (this from a touching poem come as you are dedicated to aaron kent who is a close friend of Charlie, as well as a Broken Sleep Books colleague who recently had a worrying stay in hospital but is now fine).

Oh yes, and the police will cancel something of real interest, and you should read to find out what this is.

And you should because this is a delightful poetic portrait of place with all the surreal deflections/directions making it so much more lush and engaging than your average staycation.

There is also love and romance and loss, and this even before we get to Night, not that the delights end – they simply change.

In this section there is a sweet poem dystopia (excuse paradox) dedicated to the ‘memory of sean bonney’, and a list poem – I love list poems – cherry cola, which mentions a ‘cherry bomb’ and I won’t write here about the nasty things I did with these as a kid in a less exotic Elk Horn, Iowa.

There are more colours, as in the poem chalcot square

tigers in the lemon grass
dolly mix ice-cream
red roses blushing into onrushing day

(italicised in poem)

and the whole of this collection is such a rich read where darkness of course exists, and pervades, but its refractions through the colourful imagination of the writing brings such joy in the reading.

I was quite sad at the end when the sun slowly went down.

For more information and to purchase, go here.

‘A crocodile, out of nowhere’ by James Roome – The Red Ceilings Press


I’ve been looking forward to James Roome’s follow-on collection from his debut Bull – also with The Red Ceilings Press – which had signalled a distinctive absurdist voice and way of seeing things.

I have not been disappointed.

This too is a visit to the bizarre normalcy of Roome’s poetic world, and there is plenty of playfulness throughout, not least the statistical extrapolations that begin this collection in A study has shown.

But don’t be fooled by the child’s craft-box book cover design. The background colour is clearly a universe on fire, burning a deep and beautiful red. And the crocodile-green is no doubt eco-friendly, but then there is the poetic prevalence of grey*: the grey scales and the grey teeth, sharp and deadly. And the eyes? The sclera is grey too, and we know how they follow and stalk. These are dangerous prose poems snapping at our laugh-or-cry heels as we read, running on to the next disturbing eyeballs of Ms Maytree.

Be prepared for the delightful evacuation.

For more details and to buy, go here.

My review of Bull is here.

*if you’re seeing a hint of blue, you are not paying attention…

Questions About My Previous Writing

(for Isobel and Chris)

A number of questions to ask myself are –
was I irreverent in 1972;

did I write a collection then of poetry and prose,
and if so, how many rooms in unknown

houses did my book haunt their surrounds;
did my voice in this palpable project

beautify its derisions; would the voyeurs have
read with a sense of regret at their invasion

or had insights into the privacy of my candour,
and if this can be found in the here and now,

or even another Borgesian reality, is it too late
to publish once more and revive better times?