A weightlifter with a grocery bill
hums and vibrates without permission,
shaking his head, moaning
that it’s always the same old thing.
A constellation of freckles blinks
and purrs, in a pondlife tribute,
blissfully unaware its inconsistent
enthusiasm has been duly noted.
A shoutout for the flecks of being that squirm
with unease and undulation,
after midnight in the tower.
Without them we are nothing.
Why must the hands that mince words
with meringue-based crayons
at a benefit rodeo for the overly sensitive
A lost foe is more trustworthy
than a chocolate fondue high
on hyena-infused icing,
at least on one Palm Sunday
in three, anyways.
A rat’s tail and a mullet
(compelled to vacation with a tsar)
and a lemon-handed sergeant,
stand before a choux ring regal
who has come out of hiding
against pastry associates’ advice,
to explain their situation.
A foam party for the deceased on a bed
of lightening, teaches us the sheer importance
of tangerine vultures to go!
A harmonica whipped into a souffle
for the sullen, spread thick on a glacier,
wishes it had waited until after breakfast
to make an appearance.
A cupcake’s lament for a fondant
trapped in the wrong confectionary aisle,
goes straight in at number four in the hit parade.
Bandaged happiness lisping and limping
pinning hopes on a geezer,
treading so softly and gently on pine leaves
has never felt so forsaken.
Blue-ice neon conversing with piñata innards
as Care Bears fornicate, profusely,
is enough to turn your hair
the colour of an incumbent rose.
Cruel pink slime rebels against its nature
and gives mouth-to-mouth,
to its haters annoyance.
Copulating faux-hummingbirds gloat
about matters concerning confetti,
but it’s true, they say, that bite marks,
in situations not too dissimilar
won’t show until five to 786,000 months later.
Search and Surprise
Dark humour, I guess, was what drew me into surrealism. Or black humour if we are to relate it to Breton’s anthology of. I’d been a fan of British TV dark-comedy like The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night and Alan Partridge, before I started writing poetry. I got into writing poetry and soon realised that you could have the same thing here.
I work with what neo-surrealist Russell Edson called a “blank page and a blank mind” and “dreaming awake on the page” and am more interested in what the brain coughs up than specifically writing poem specifically about things. I like each poem to be an experiment with the unconscious mind.
Freud talks about dark humour in his Jokes and their Relation the Unconscious, about how we use our store of negative energy and transform it into positive energy as a defence mechanism, which ties in with Breton’s theories around dark humour, this “superior revolt of the mind” protecting us from the “arrows of reality”.
The surreal coupled with the dark humour allows us to laugh at things we mind find uncomfortable or difficult. It can also be therapeutic. By taking a familiar situation that you might read about in the paper and find quite shocking or upsetting, reimagining it and setting in a bizarre or absurd situation it becomes funny and ridiculous and we get the release of laughter, which we so greatly need. We kind of exorcise the bad stuff.
John Ashbery once said: “I don’t write about experiences; and I write out of them.” Like Ashbery I don’t feel interested in speaking directly about my own experiences but prefer them to come through in other ways which they often do. Sometimes you might realise what a poem is about years later. David Lynch has said this about meanings of his films too. Writing a poem about, for instance, as I have, falling in love with a Braun electric shaver, years later you realise, God that relationship was really over if I’m getting tempted by an electric appliance.
With this kind of writing, you’re writing in a state of surprise, as you don’t know where the poem is going to lead you. James Tate, a writer whose surreal narrative poems have been a huge influence on me, said that when writing a poem, it’s like you’re searching for some kind of “truth or illumination or epiphany” but you don’t know what it is until you get there. I definitely relate to that, and it’s that search and surprise that keeps it interesting for me and keeps me coming back.