Landscape of the Vomiting Multitudes/ Birmingham

Having recently(ish) started a Creative Writing PhD I have obviously written absolutely nothing creative of late (as I spend my time pretending to read up on the theory around literary fragments and cobble together my thoughts into incomprehensible sentences for my long-suffering supervisor). So, when I was asked to read alongside some great fellow Brummie poets at a Beat themed poetry/music event at Frontier+ Festival, I decided to use it as an excuse to write something new.

Not being a fan of blank pages or screens I started instead with Lorca’s Paisaje de la multitud que vomita.  This wasn’t a completely random choice– Lorca was a major influence on the beats and, as the festival is themed around Birmingham and New York, starting a poem about Birmingham with a Lorca poem about Coney Island- well it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Also, I liked the title.  I began by creating a translation based partly on Ben Belitt’s 1955 translation as well as my own painfully bad Spanish —


Landscape of the Vomiting Multitudes
The fat lady came first
ripping the roots and damping the skins of the drums
the fat lady
who inverts octopodes to their death.
The fat lady, enemy of the moon,
racing through streets and deserted buildings
and leaving in corners the tiny skulls of pigeons
and raising the furies of long stale banquets
and summoning the devil of bread from the slopes of heaven
and craving filtered light in subterranean circuits.
They are cemeteries, I know they are cemeteries
and the sorrow of kitchens sunk deep in the silt,
they are the dead, the pheasants and the apples of another time
pressing down on our throat.

Then came the whispering from the jungle of vomit
with the empty women, with children of molten wax,
with trees fermenting and tireless waiters
serving platters of salt beneath saliva harps.
Nothing else for it, son, Puke! Ain’t no other way.
Not the vomit of hussars on the breasts of their prostitutes,
nor the sick of the cat that accidentally swallowed a frog.
But the dead that scratch with their hands of dirt
at the flint gateways where the clouds and desserts are rotting.

The fat lady came first
with the crowds from the boats, the bars and the gardens.
The vomit gently stirring the drums
amongst the children of blood
who ask protection of the moon.
Alas! Alas! Alas!
This look on my face was me, but is no longer mine,
this look that trembles naked in alcohol
and launching incredible ships
to the anemones by the docks.
I fight with this look
that flows from the waves that no dawn dares,
I, poet without arms, adrift
in the vomiting multitudes,
without even a horses enthusiasm to crop
the thick moss of my temples.

But the fat lady went first
and the crowds searched for pharmacies
where tropical bitters are found.
And only when they raised the flag and the first dogs arrived
did the whole city gather together at the railings of the pier.


This I then put through my own patented process of corruption and betrayal to create a spoken-word poem about my memories of Birmingham as a teenager.

After enjoying some great poetry and beat inspired music I headed out on the town and got memory obliteratingly drunk for old times sake.

On not a lot to show for it

I do very little and there isn’t enough hours in the day for it.  I work part-time, research even less, I pub quiz once a week, visit a girl I like occasionally and recently did see some of my other friends, if by accident.  I get between 5 and 6 hours sleep, read the Sunday Papers but rarely get through more than a clue or two of the cryptic, and write increasingly dull lists.  I used to create, I tell myself, although how productive I ever was is a debate not worth having.  I interrupt anything I start, and rarely finish, and decide to sack off this increasingly narcissistic attempt to capture life as (what will eventually be performative) researcher and instead indulge in a even less productive creative something…

[some time later]

A Fragment (consider revising)
(having no the due respect for and being a horrific corruption of A Fragment by G. G. Byron)

Tomorrow, maybe yesterday, to their gaseous disapproval, the song of my fore
far- crying for my liquor, merry in their cup of tea;
Yesterday, maybe tomorrow, imperturbable in eye of tornado, the shape of me glides,
Or, pitch in missed, down and down the mountain slides;
O! mark my adumbration, behold ashes blown to stained glass,
illuminating every where entropy to entropy returns!
No The Greater American, no gospel-stunted high;
Mark no monument but have a child draw my name in dirt:
If that with honey fail to preserve my mind,
O! mark no other musical transaction cost!
In order that, only that certain spot lights up I, blemish;
By, in order, that misremembered, only that, may be forgot.

Still a writer is always working, life is material and it might as well all come good in the end. For those that are interested I have recently also taken up the Cornell method for note-taking because the thesis whisperer told me to and switched to Zotero as my citation software of choice as it’s free, it can be used to add references to Scrivener and because it will help me keep an annotated bibliography.  I have also now definitely read more about the fragmentary imperative in 18th century poetry than I’ve read 18th century poems.

Until we do not meet again… x

To feel deep affection or sexual love for a Poem

being a deplorable corruption of Love Poem by Jennifer Maier perpetrated by the notorious philanderer Theodore Roué Bonhomme Esq.

My intellectual capacity wants to fuck with your intellectual capacity
and my ouvre is blue balls about your corpse.
My grey matter realises your bluestockinged foot
and ankle and thigh is the Mt. Never-rest
of sinewy erection. My temple built in awe
of your largest sexual organ; a suggestion of incest and anal rabbits.
And my love? My love pumps dog blood
through both of us. It tracks our arms
with deep wounds, first this way, then wherever we can find a vein.
The carcass hisses; the id blows its shrivelled horn.

One day soon we will discover you, be-jungled and spilling drinks.
The super-ego stood poised with its obfuscations;
the ego raised telescopic. The blood
will spiral around and around the plughole as they augur
what will never be, and carrion splatters like bull semen,
drowning your pink dawn with our fat tears.

For Myself, Mostly

(Being a Canada Dry Mistranslation of four haikus by Yosa Buson)

non-existent, the last one here
paddling some trivial hidden
under the bright night sky

Not Found
old man’s breath hot down
chicken thighs
sweat shone with summer

Sophie Germain
Jewish early birds–
a hair of mine is a fallen star
plucked before soft rhyme forms

With No Imaginary Part
an open-gate width further
I too am a hobo
of the yawn of this orange day

Stoned French

(Being a Canada Dry mistranslation of High Diver by Kurt Brown)

Queer spined, filth-mongered rainbow
on the smoke-dull risk of precipice
agent provoked and twice ashamed, conscious
our eyes on it; we too were once
composed as beauty hard to understand.

Expleted boys jostle one another
in their ineptitude, half pressed out
on the edge of earthquake risk their eyes
and light seduction of water, smooth but tough
as sound.  Whistles echo off the walls.

I cannot tell you what it feels like, balancing on the edge
of effervescence, the girl melting into the woman
it will become supernatural in her tight skin
a torn glabrous halo of limbs stretched up like a marching dream
attempting comprehension and corruption of her tears.

Now, it circumducts a dancer gripping to the convocation
with his toes, and it rides like convulsions in time
then settles again. It waits until it stops,
until it comes together, until there is a balance between
great and indisputable, we turn back to withering light.

Suddenly, his knees bend, arms stretch, ra ra ra
then he abandons it and looks could kill
where she squeezes his neck with her hands
as a fetus rolls backwards in her perfect womb
letting her know that it’s home again for long Autumn.

And then his fingers tearing open water and body
disappearing into her, nothing but a projection
marking what we once were, and the boys turn
into something else, feeling their own bodies
fall dangerously through childhoods spent in love with it.

Of the Superhero’s Wife in the Coal-furnaced Star

(being a Canada Dry mistranslation of Lois in the Sunny Tree by Mark Halliday)

To immortalise that nonspecific date in 1920 she grinned obscurity
from her obsolete fish phalanges to the limb darkening, in astronomy,
the appearance of the border of the disk of a celestial body
says Wikipedia, seven years old now but the funny bone of a dead man then,
with a large rack of ribs for a fascinator, we saw rows of living time,
tiny strings of theory cobwebbing in some remote predicament of the mind

and for our personal epistemology, then, as I smiled back down the length
of the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world,
we took on trust what was scrawled in the margins of peer reviewed journals
and collaged happy photographed eyes from this current future
that dragged up somewhere good for us, on some tiny, remote predicament.

Assuming I Couldn’t Wrong Words

(Being a Canada Dry mistranslation of Spike Milligan’s If I Could Write)

Your head! when all around you watch
Bonnie Tyler doing the best she could
to form letters, words, symbols, words
that found pleasant frondescence anonymously falling
to a large tract of land covered with real wooden floors;
which thing or which particular one of many
pyres for Guy my correspondence would create

no kind of doubt in yourself despite all others a long time canned
laughing the smallest element that can be uttered- hydrogen,
twice, and oxygen; Youtube would-be robber struck by bus
experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion
when I was your man I, Edward Said, not a man I’ve heard talk,
but an important man that did exist and has nothing to with that
I love you.

Unseasonable Lust

(Being a Canada Dry mistranslation of December Love by Randy Blasing.  No permissions sought or gained)

In some specific temporal location, as is your wont,
you fall me down from trees to be hoovered up
someday, invent something to believe how I whittled
a blood pump out of the frozen water, smoking pot and feeling faint,
that left cheek of your ass…

See things through, so that when Eurydice disappears you’ll total
the organs I misplaced in you [ampersand] you had right
ass cheek too- as you read J G Ballard and shifted up a gear.

In blunt falsehood, the sentiment you imbibed at that time
was your hymen when it broke into tears that streaked
at the Coal Cats game against the Canaries, I had made you come
from where I flipped you the bird, your clitoris

etched on transparent surfaces as if for good. My heart is italicised
for your emphasis, it talked to me when we had our meltdown,
reading aloud from our collection of celebrity gossip magazines
as my own words raced to lay out banana skins; black face under my feet.