Poems for Purdah: Christy Ducker

The Enemy

It wasn’t that we had grown complacent,
in fact we’d had quite a difficult time,
but the wound was so large and demanding
we had to tend to that. It was only
later we noticed the change of pressure,
that something had come in and squatted us.
It stopped our mouths with what appeared to be
a thin film. We couldn’t puncture the stuff.
The usual strategies wouldn’t work.
We heard someone on the radio change
the word ‘rules’ to the word ‘witchcraft’.
We tried to learn quickly about the law.

Christy Ducker is a poet and tutor. Her first full-length collection, Skipper, was published in 2015, and includes work commended by the Forward Prize judges. Her pamphlet, Armour (2011) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. Her commissions include residencies with Port of Tyne, English Heritage, and York University’s Centre for Immunology and Infection; she is also the director of North East Heroes, an Arts Council England project. She is currently working as a research fellow at Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice.

Neu! Post-Truth Poetics DAY SIXTY-FOUR – Peter Rühmkorf (translated by Peter Russell)

Stay Shockable – and Fight Back

So today: first, second and last shout
To all that’s been chased round and wrung out
Which I, though lowly, saw sway and crack
What’s empty tomorrow but yesterday was full:
Before your head is frozen to death, a bare skull:
Stay shockable – but fight back.

Those who fuck up our earth, water and air
(Forward march! Trust in god and the motor car)
Before they talk you round the houses and into a sack
To be stitched up, bought and sold
While you wait for the transmutation of puke into gold
Stay shockable – and fight back.

So sweet, how mortals stir themselves and start
Targetting coshes to the kidneys and the heart
So soon failed courage betrays love behind its back…
If you stand head bowed, others bowed will follow
(And then you won’t need to seek your sorrows
Everything you fear, now it all comes true -)
Stay shockable
Stay shockable – and fight back.

Fight back, all of you! Unpractised in victory;
Between Scylla here and there Charybdis
Is the swinging exchange rate of the Odyssey…
Darkness flows out after the rich and sweet
But when you and your comrades – go out and find them! –
Share the gloom, the danger will easily
And soon crack…
Stay shockable …
Stay shockable…
Stay shockable – but fight back.  

 

Peter Russell was born in London in 1954. He grew up near Portsmouth and studied Comparative Literature with German in Norwich and Regensburg. He now writes and performs in Glasgow, where he has lived since 1985. His translation of ‘Schulpause/Breaktime’  by Günter Grass was commended in the Stephen Spender Prize for Literary Translation 2016. 

 
Peter Rühmkorf  was born in Dortmund in 1929 and died in Roseburg in North Germany in 2008. 
He believed that poetry in the modern age could be “a Utopian space where we can breathe more freely, feel more deeply, think more radically and nonetheless feel more connected with each other than is possible in the so-called real world.”

Neu! Post-Truth Poetics DAY SIXTY-THREE – Rob Walton

robin knows

to get away from the noise
I dig a hole on my allotment
and sit with a book
but I still hear my constant robin
who rests on the spade handle and says
in a voice between Trevor MacDonald
and Damien Lewis that he knows all
about Trump and the election and it’s all
they’re talking about in the trees
not that he gets up there much
and as much as he likes the worms
the hole has freed he comes down
to get away from the noise

there’s more fluttering to come
as three more friends arrive
bursting to self-express
but they’re more self-conscious
than my red-breasted mate
and no-one’s brave enough to speak
since that spuggy tried last week
before getting pecked to death
and now their hearts are in their mouths and
there’s more fluttering to come

there may be shelter under wings
and they may yet soar but
migration’s going to be a fucker
as it turns out there’s talk
and threats of some sort of cloud
wall and talk and threats of all being ringed
and pigeon lofts being converted
into avian detention centres so who knows if
there may be shelter under wings

 

Rob Walton is a writer, performer and teacher from Scunthorpe, who now lives in North Shields. Poems, short stories and flash fictions for children and adults published by Frances Lincoln, the Emma Press, Butcher’s Dog, Northern Correspondent, IRON Press, Red Squirrel, Northern Voices, Harper Collins, Arachne and others. He collated the text for the New Hartley Memorial Pathway and collaborates with sculptor Russ Coleman. Past winner and current judge for National Flash Fiction Day micro-fiction competition. He sometimes tweets @anicelad and oddness can be found at www.linesofdesire.co.uk

 

 

Neu! Post-Truth Poetics DAY SIXTY-TWO – George Szirtes

Climatology

Petals of rain fold. Glass runs away with itself, grows furrows, splinters.
Seeing the future through the window, through the rain, through folded petals.
Nothing appears clear, only the rain unfolding its ragged sheets.
Only the petals closed in on themselves. The rain plucked, folded.

*

There’s fiercer weather in store. A ruined rain, crushed petals of water.
There are dark evenings and crueller nights, harsh mornings and a long unsettling.
But for now, soft rain, crisp petals of blown thunder, rumours of summer.
All this beyond thunder, soaked and folded, rain unfolding.

 

 

George Szirtes’ most recent book, Mapping the Delta, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2016. It was a Poetry Book Society Choice. His blog can be found here.

Neu! Post-Truth Poetics DAY SIXTY-ONE – Andy Jackson

Rollback

Here are the reverse engineers
to reduce the irreducible,
drive a chisel into the mortar,
unbuild the house to build a wall.
Those who huddle under statues
are dispersed, and in towers
elevators full of women only rise
so far before they fall.

The hand we used to wipe
before we shook, we now wipe
afterwards, or keep in pockets.
We used to party at year’s end,
set off rockets kept back
from November; now we
sleep our way to midnight,
houses creaking full of dark.

We cried at things; shattered
cities, babies on the foreshore,
but now the tears roll up
our cheeks, back into eyes,
tired of accommodations
and even the wind blows
the other way. It doesn’t matter,
but we remember when it did.

The language is regressing
into gesture, nuance, silence.
When we speak, it’s of repeal,
rethink, reverse. We gather
at the well, but every bucket
is more brackish than the last,
and soon we’ll have to mix
the hydrogen and oxygen ourselves.

The news blackout holds, but there’s
a looping nature documentary;
a curious fish steps backward
off the beach and back into the sea,
feet turning to fins, to waving stumps,
scales flaking away, flesh dissolving
into bacteria, the idea of bacteria,
then back to a time before ideas.