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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Gabriel Gudding reviews

Daylight Saving Sex by Randolph Healy

Published by Wild Honey Press, 16A Ballyman Road, Bray County Wicklow, Ireland, in March 2001 in an edition of 200. ISBN 1 903090 28 8

Warning, anagrams passim.

Sex is a ghastly kind of diving. Randolph Healy is one of the most important of the new Irish writers. His press, Wild Honey Press, is committed to printing unusual work in unusual volumes. All of Wild Honey’s books are thoughtfully designed and carefully made. Just so with Randolph Healy’s latest chapbook, Daylight Saving Sex. In additionyou can read aboutsex. Randy Healy indeed. Appealing delicate chapbook weird picture on cover and back. On front hilarious high-speed photograph of apple pierced by bullet like an erection slamming through baguette. On Back: Some kind of thin microscopic film-creature dividing sexually underneath a microscope, looking vaguely like eucharist wafer soaked in blueberry wine or a butterfly marinated in bleach and then backlit by flashlight. Healy always chooses the weird but appropriate art for the Wild Honey books. Healy makes all his books himself and sends them across the oceans and counties and then people read them. Many people read them now. Healy’s press is probably the best, at the present time, in Ireland.
      This particular chapbook is about the length and breadth of an erect penis. 6 inches by 6 inches. It is square exactly and consists of 16 pages of smallish to semi-medium sized font. The book is at once a clear and hermetic meditation upon power, identity, sex, and calendars (and other concepts of time). The poem, the book, moves between scientific and liturgical language, English and Irish, bromides, common phrases, what seem to be almanac entries, riddles, syllogisms, clear humorous anecdotes, to spills of rhyme, anagram, half-anagrams, acrostics, and puns. One reads the book laughing. What a giddy fruitcake of a writer! And what a grave writer.

           vineyard milk
           spanish wood

           washing the walls for painting
on the eve of Genevieve’s birthday
Tempestua  our gale force girl
born at the equinox,
which I discussed yesterday
with the first year science class
they all eagerness, sensing perhaps
their own storms around the corner ...

“ what’s five to the power of three?”
“one hundred twenty five” said *****
having done powers before she was burned out of her house
and her relatives killed in front of her,
“very good” I said, moving on
ten to the power of one ten
ten to the power of two a hundred
ten to the power of eleven a hundred billion

One is reminded of Yeats’ “I walk through the long schoolroom questioning,” but without the high tone, without the rhetorical condiments, without the lesson slammed into the esophagus. One reads the book shaking the head at Healy’s word-play, deftness of conceptual movement, the emotional shifts, and not least his cultural commentary. Randolph Healy, like some, forgive the anagram, “holy alpha nerd”, has a “hyper-anal hold” on language, such that we enjoy where his book grips us immensely, which is not so much in the anus. A very tight grip: Randolph Healy is gripping our vulvae and scrota. Indeed, another anagram of “Randolph Healy” is “Help! A horny lad!” Also here, the family life of the poet, the Politics, the idea that Time itself can be controlled by the priesthood.
      This book is about calendars and SEX, as I have already noted. An abacus fiddled with itself until it climaxed spewing beads everywhere. Healy is a mathematician. Acrostics. Which is fairly true. And Healy, as many are coming to realize, belongs to a tight and fulgent group of Irish poets who are changing the scape of poetry in Ireland and abroad: Maurice Scully, Trevor Joyce, Billy Mills, and Mairéad Byrne, all of whom are influenced by Joyce and devoted to the non-bucolic.
     This sexy valid gang (another anagram of Daylight Saving Sex) are figures of this group who come to my head. Also this four I consider bonkers. Very boinky. Brilliant personnel. Everything else, anybody ever wrote, by comparison, is really shitty at first glance, but then we calm down and realize the work of this group, and Healy’s here, is just, well, utterly different. One would say boinky. New? Yes. Strange? Yes. Smart? Most definitely. Healy’s work in Daylight Saving Sex, let’s face it. Also the pulchritude and delicacy of the books of Wild Honey Press books. Healy, Wild Honey Press books. Deftness, Delicacy. The alteration, or lateration, of words, meanings, cultures letter by letter inch by inch, haitch by aitch


The chapbook meditates upon the shifting of cultural, verbal, and temporal frames to reveal both significance and insignificance: “A mite on an abacus wished it was a fruitbat / white blank black oblivion either side of this bright day.” “A flaw in a quiz-show thought he was a kazoo / everyone is singular the entire plane shuddered prepositor or prior.” Eh!? Livid syntax gags, right? Healy’s humor happens in a hyphen, in a droll comma, as the poem moves from tight lines that jag left to right and then flare into paragraphs:

           sell the slow
           breed the fast

           let them starve

After dinner the plume of smoke on the hill was as thick as a
thumb held at arm’s length. Her hosts decided to show
Louise their ghost duck. They were very blasé about it.
Suddenly the duck went berserk and they all started taking
some kind of drug to knock themselves out. But Louise’s
drug wouldn’t work fast enough and the duck cornered her in
a dolmen in the field next door. She said it was very
frightening at the time.

           virgins’s milk           bull’s blood

           a clean breast           a dirty dick

Healy is like a weed banging on a door. Subtle, insistent, goofy — but carefully formed and incontrovertibly complex. And ever sad. This book, and. Healy’s poems, and this one in particular, hold at once a mathematical precision and an easy playfulness, a humor and a gravity, that cause a kind of rip in the reader. Daylight Saving Sex: syntax hides vile gags, indeed. The book, like all Wild Honey books, can be obtained from Wild Honey Press, at 16a Ballyman Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, or by sending an email to
You can hear Healy read it at

Jacket 15 — December 2001  Contents page
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