Simon Potter’s award-winning poetry has been published in eight anthologies. It draws on the same startling imagination that surprises in his fiction, has mastery of form, from blank verse and sonnet to vers libre and haiku, and exhibits his usual control over word-choice and imagery.
“Dark Lines” is an extraordinary collection with themes as varied as demonic possession, abuse, OCD, punishment, adoration, compulsion, childhood whimsy, hauntings, ecology and black humour – what might be expected from the inchoate landscape of the worlds of dream and nightmare.
MARCHING WITH SNOW
I marched under butterflies
with Snow White towards the Seven Frackers,
she with her placard: “Frack OFF!”
and her Friends of The Earth badge
mirrored exactly by her Prince’s.
In Ashdown Forest they
glowed with love and said,
‘Let us meet again and speak…’
‘…of International Capitalism’s Rape
of the world.’
‘Yes, oh yes!’
I crouched with Ulanu
at the edge of the wilderness.
Hot, bewildered, we saw
the dark-grey gunboats nosing
past the wall of trees. Sometimes
a shell ventured into the canopy.
He sobbed, ‘Oh, our sweet land…’
I comforted him, lifting his
face so he could hear
the tiny ‘pop’ – just a little metal gun
squirting into Africa.
I see my own wrist
glowing under the sheet.
Just a strap of white where
my radioactivity protection
slipped on that awkward
night of sirens, leaping
gauges, vehicles tearing to
the coast, and 24 hour
TV news comfort phrases:
‘Acceptable limits’, ‘Under control’;
those government spokesmen being calm, calm.
On a Harley-Davidson motor-trike,
you don’t have to balance.
you sit up in the roar, noticing, relaxed.
Wow! That cat just made it to the
other side. What fragile limbs
that boy has; he waits and waits
with his toy scoot for the metal lava
to ebb for an instant so he
can cross. No chance caresses,
no swift smiles, no warm word –
just the enemy, girdled in plastic and fume –
and you, cynosure, apart from it.
Not many sparrows, not so many jaguars,
not many dragon-flies, not so many turtles –
yet all those new uncountable jelly-fish!
But they are alien to our plague of bipeds
on motor-trikes, glowing in the dark,
asking Africa’s forgiveness,
marching with Snow White
into the forests.
JOANNA CARTER’S DREAMS
Singing in the ocean wind
swept with gulls on blue, I bent
to find the sand parting
where the suck licks the weed.
Anti-volcanoes imploded into depths
and by my toes I saw a mouth.
It bit once, crunching
silica streaming over its abyss.
Then it closed and bubbles…..
“Thank you, Ms Carter, that’s very well put.
You have Oral Rage – more normal in men –
so you dream of things that eat.”
But the mouth, Doctor Samuda, was a human mouth
and rows of bright teeth snapped at me…..
“Hm. Go on.”
Far away down a tunnel my audience awaits.
between me and their faces are the down-path
of the stage and the drums.
Behind these I’ll have power as my sticks
batter skin that is safe to pound.
The cymbals are thunder clouds and
brass skies tingle rain notes.
You yearn for the drum stool. It’s like a car.
Pedals can be pushed to the floor.
The shiny drums are the men’s faces I hate,
the brother I love – like Karen Carpenter..…
“Thank you, Ms Carter, I’m most reassured.
You have Transferred Violence – more normal in apes –
so you dream of things that beat.”
Oh, the panic, Doctor Samuda, when I see the crowd.
They have upturned faces, yet my legs are lead
and I cannot reach the drums…..
“Aha. Go on.”
A porpoise in a cowl folds me snugly
into a japanned tin egg. Scissors frill
wings of flesh around my womb.
The albino with the tattooed tissue
where his eyes should be has a fist clutching
a banana which ends in a saw.
He is rasping the tongue from the flayed horse’s
carcass on the beach…..
“What are you doing, Ms Carter, with that knife?”
Ah, the knife, Doctor Samuda…..
Leonard’s stare shot up,
oh deep, deep into the
night sky over Tacoma.
To his right the Pleiades;
his left sucked in
that most gorgeous of
constellations – misty flame
a million light years across –
and all that was in between
was icy black.
Until that planetes, that
It took Leonard six seconds
to calculate something terrible:
it was growing and aimed at him!
A tiny instant beyond his
understanding of this – far too little
for his brain to command
neurons into avoidance –
it landed in his face.
Starting the size of a watermelon
out in the Van Allen belt,
the heat-defying iron was now
five centimetres across.
Leonard’s head, neck and chest
spurted into liquid so fast that
the patio awning was torn, and
a plastic chair tumbled over.
His meat-filled denims
stood alone in equipoise,
until they tottered down
under the violent stars.