Poem of the day

Untitled

by Keith J Coleman

solstice:

blackbird’s yellow bill

      plucks a scarlet berry

 

19 June

Selected Legends of the Prettiest Star

by Helen Bowell

after W. Todd Kaneko and David Bowie

 

Angie Bowie was the first woman 

in interstellar space. When she left 

Earth’s orbit, she could be heard to say: 

Faith can only take you so far /

Look Zowie, mummy can fly / 

I’m never coming back.

 

Angie once slept for forty days and forty nights. 

When she woke, it was 1969

and her first husband was singing this love song

by way of proposal.

 

On her mother’s side, Angie Bowie 

is the great-great-great-granddaughter

of Aphrodite. As such, she has the power

to grant favour in love, though is cursed 

to have no control over her own fate. 

On her father’s side, she is descended 

from electric eels: hence everything else.

 

Angie Bowie comes from an ancient tribe 

of Europeans that doesn’t sleep. 

That’s how she had so much 

sex in the seventies.

 

Angie Bowie was born in Cyprus, 

spent seven years learning manners

in Switzerland, got kicked out

of a private school for meddling

with another girl. She moved

to Kingston in 1967, and then 

she turned into a swan. 

 

In another universe, Angie Bowie is known 

for playing Wonder Woman and has the best-selling 

DC action figure of all time modelled after her 

scandalous waistline. In our universe, they say

casting turned her down because 

she refused to wear a bra.

 

When Angie was born, Mars, Venus and Jupiter 

rose in conjunction with the moon,

a once-in-a-millennium celestial bracelet

visible only from Earth. The midwife told 

her mother, “Be careful with this one. 

She’ll have powers beyond her ken.” 

 

Although more widely known as the Barmaid of 

the Deadrockstar, in Bromley she’s known as 

the Fairy of the Glades, in Cyprus as George 

and Helena’s girl, and in the States 

as the Glitter Goddess of the Sunset Strip.

 

Angie Bowie wrote the book on Bisexuality,

published by Pocket Essentials in 2002. 

In it, she details the entire history of the preference, 

which was told to her by her great-great-great-

grandmother, an electric eel. Nobody knows 

exactly how eels reproduce. The only fact 

we know for sure about Angie Bowie is this. 

 

In 2004, scientists discovered a star orbiting Betelgeuse, 

which shone fifteen times brighter than our sun. They named it 

after Angie, the prettiest star. Astronomers believe it 

has already gone supernova, but the light hasn’t reached us yet.

 

That night, Angie was wearing a pink velvet suit.

That night, a cheetah print all-in-one by Alexander McQueen.

That night, her ex’s leather jacket with DARE ME patched on the back.

 

Angie spent the final days of the millennium

in the seas around Paphos, trying to grow gills.

“I’m going to breathe water if it’s the death of me,”

she told her girlfriend, who held hands

with the lifeguard nervously on the shore.

After several days, Poseidon rose to say,

“What are you doing here, Angie?

You don’t belong in the water.” 

She replied, “Great King Poseidon,

I came from this place. I don’t know

where I belong, but this is where I want to be.”

He said, “But weren’t you the subject of that

song on Aladdin Sane, you know, The Prettiest 

Star? My brother Zeus knows people in the sky. 

Why don’t you let me call him?” Angie said, 

“I really wish you hadn’t brought that up,”

bit Poseidon’s left arm till it bled blue

and swam up to the surface, looking for a place

that didn’t know the lightning man.

 

Angie Bowie found out about the death of her first husband 

when she was on Celebrity Big Brother. 

The producers took her off air to deliver the news.

They filmed her reactions in the Diary Room soon after. 

She left the show early due to ill health.

 

Angie Bowie was a finger beckoning.

Then she was a crown, but all the jewels fell out.

Then she was a pine, shedding in the city.

Then she was a snake, whose fangs wouldn’t reach her tail.

Then she was a carpenter who nobody would hire.

Now, she is the bassline in a messed-up love song.

 

In 1969, Angie Bowie’s first husband proposed 

down the phone to her by singing this song.

She later said, “We got married 

so I could [get a permit to] work… 

I didn’t think it would last 

and [he] said, before we got married, 

‘I’m not really in love with you,’

and I thought that’s probably a good thing.”

 

There are many legends about Angie Bowie’s 

first husband, too. I think you might know a few

about the warlocks, the spiders. One lesser-known legend

tells of Sunday afternoons of toast and butter and tea, 

of singing at the piano while his wife and son 

danced around the living room, twinkling.

 

18 June

I love

by Ian Hamilton Finlay

17 June

At the desert's edge

by David Cobb

16 June

Calling Pluto

by Karen Smith

After dark I call you up, 

just to hear the weather report, 

that the nights are drawing in now, 

and how much you paid 

for your latest pair of trousers. 

You’ll tell me the one about 

PLUTO, the giant pipeline rolling out 

under the Channel on a steel drum, 

how it kept the tanks fed 

for our boys on the continent, 

how the ice cream hut along the bay

was really a pump in disguise,

like those Ruperts that kept the Führer

guessing. And the Kamikaze who’d blaze

unswerving to the end, the enemy

you couldn’t help but admire. And I’ll 

sing you American Pie again, 

like that last night in the hospital,

however many times you try to die.
 

15 June

A paradox of small presses

by Paul Peter Piech

14 June

After Party / After Life An Underworld Conversation with Bowie

by Mona Arshi

I say: Please… can I join you for a few moments in this sort of conjuring -I’m a fan?

 

He says: Sure. I’ve taken the pulse , I’ve taken the temperature here

in the afterlife, I’ve run so far away from myself and your hot bodies

I’ve parted  the willow trees hair pained myself in the water

I’ve studied the breathing moss

sampled some of  the delights of the underworld

all its potions and charms their versions of  snails 

and the true earthworms and the  hollyhocks and I’ve 

tamed my ear brought it down so close to hunt down

the  music and it’s all so inhalable and bright and all it’s all so so so

 

And I say : Tell me more, those are totemic lines…

 

And he says: You poets. You poets are all the same…

So much for your stomach-churning ambiguity

and your personas and sad fishing performances 

here the poets  take off their putrid costumes 

this is a party with a commitment to the 

afterwards where  the errant rules,  where the delinquent poets

are outed and placed in the middle of the treeless field 

naked as dusk -this is the afterlife after party

of  course I’m not going  hand it to you on

a steel  platter in  all straight lines.

 

And then he says:  

I’m going be wearing

my best version disguise painted  

in madder root -like  those quick footed clowns

all oozy like the mushrooms we picked

and I’ll tell you something else 

I find new  words here, language 

for the word when you ready yourself

for a photograph  tilting your head right back 

just so and a new word for the  moon snug in its pocket

embalmed and drunk in its bright yellow liquor 

 

I  say: ok  tell me about lyrical beauty again

I say if feeling is first then can  you tell me how it is for you

bring me out  poem if you can..

 

And he laughs says: all the sound engineers have gone home but 

Ok ….

I’ll attempt something in this dharmic frame

In the  blind moments of this insane 

Uncoupling from the breathing world 

It kind of feels pure and pellucid as pain

And yet writers reign

In full rhyme

 

And I say-thank-you. 

Thank you,

Aladdin Sane

 

And.. he goes quiet and says:

It was brave of me right to try on

the other parts myself right

all earthy and sweat and 

so blurry and the audience  there

bright or brittling like icicles 

caught in the mouth of a cave?

That’s the version of a life  I’m re-Sampling ,

it’s so beautiful and insane, the fire ants in their fedoras 

travelling along  the delicious veins

of the flowers …what a fucking party.

 

Then he says: 

You poets are all the same 

wielding your knives in the rafters 

practicing your moves 

but have you truly  watched  that man, 

there in the shadows 

are you watching him cut out his heart

not  content for the music to  resolve itself

sympathetically ..syntactically-unfolding -long cord of breath 

watch that man,

feed him the question to the answer 

we knew all along  

when the song begins to sting you have to stop.