Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Strange Thing Happened...

Some years ago I was in a phase of writing poetry and sending it off around the place to magazines. This resulted in a lot of rejection letters and a lot more silence. I also went, at the time, on a few occasions, to the Open Mike night at London's Poetry Cafe. There I met a couple of young guys who were selling and soliciting submissions for a ' new and up-and-coming' poetry magazine called The Wolf. I bought one. A few weeks later I submitted a few poems. Silence...

Years later, i.e. a month ago, I was aimlessly surfing the web and found The Wolf's website, discovering to my astonishment, that I had in fact had a poem published in this now 'established and up-and-coming' magazine... in the Summer 2003 (No. 4) issue. Up till now my published works have been a number of short erotic pieces in American anthologies, feature articles for the gay and national UK press, and various editorial and reference book pieces written as a guest 'expert' on various subjects. My first 'non-erotic' fiction is to be published later in the year in Dennis Cooper's anthology, Userlands. That was exciting enough but a poem...! Am I allowed to call myself a published poet now... on the back of a few meagre stanzas?

The poem in question came from a period when I OD'ed on R. S. Thomas. Like Haagen Daz ice-cream, bubble-wrap and sex (not necessarily combined) it is possible to overdo a good thing and ruin it forever. This, I fear, I might have with Thomas as when I went back to read some recently I discover it doesn't get to me quite the way it used to. Thomas wrote a much better poem on a similar theme. Mine isn't entirely about Christ.

As Wolf 4 is now unavailable and the text isn't on their website, here is the poem:

Father to Son

It will be hard, under
the cobalt clear sky of
desert nights, being born,

when before, that vastness
was, in your iris, no
more than a reflection;

a sky becoming space
becoming cosmos then
light to dance in your eyes.

Hard too their assumptions
because their ripest fruit
is that molecule of

your breath that they call life;
framing your sacrifice
as hanging from a tree.

In fact, your skin will split
because it is too small
for you. What you gave up
they will not comprehend.

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