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

Geraldine McKenzie

Four poems


for Rosa Luxembourg, Gabrielle de Polignac and Jeanne d’Arc


skull crackers
sodden in the car
murderers cocky
as bridegrooms in the court-
room their braids and medals
their predatory caps


lives better than fiction
delicate bitch blonde Princesse
swooning before a painted
lobster — how it shoulders forward
its blistered redness —

“When any blood gushing from its wounds
stained the skin, some men, placed there
for the purpose, immediately washed it off,
to make the spectators take more particular
note of its whiteness.”

do you make us animals

we are animals

(the women the worst)


the student cultivates a false sense
of security (marchons, marchons)

distance like an exposition
and that sly frisson
we’re human too
(getting nasty)

who can resist
their place in history
choice a banality in the supermarket

don’t grovel



a substance in the blood
this holy madness blest
by writ & rote

meet the new boss

the usual shapes
blunt but effective

victims of language
trundled off by analogy
splintered into
adjectives on the platform
gloating the body

their hands


the doctors have examined her
the priests have examined her
the judges etc.

what is the right end of a woman?

she, too, examines herself
no mark
but Maid

this matter of voices

there’s the difficulty

what will burn

we fear the indestructible

which has no shape and slips
the righteous knife


could make nothing of it


dally and boss

belie/belief and willing trade

hum an it eee

meta meta


and, as
he stoked his sluggd
moustache he succeeded
in conveying both the indubitably masculine
nature of such a possession
(as it were/ as you are)
along with a nuanced frivolity
a pinch of magritte between the sheets
a competent
sentence, marshals, pointed
in one
apparent direction

(& yes I am
put out)

(that knows
where it’s going)

(or seems)
(or seams)

(or passages ill-lit for sojourn
a weary day, its paws
its face to face

Who could be heard saying
you’d bend to hear
her faith in words & wrongly
placed as tongues, brains

child raw

by any
light encumbered

unchart the deep & matchless

Dancing sideways

1. Thumbtack the slippery mystery.

2. Portents of disaster. Who doesn’t lock their doors these days

3. Dove down and wing it.

4. The rain’s forgiveness bids us breathe. A green break.

5. Even the statues. Grip.

6. Beak and splay, carol a high calling.

7. For Insouciance in the face of Malice. Well done, lads.

8. Seething saucepans, a kettle requiring immediate attention.

9. Resisting metaphor, you slippery sod. Come back here.

10. Bloated bodies by the bank. Some, children.

11. Cursory pagan over dinner, TV enjoins the singing heads.

12. The moon’s never far, this pool and eddy.

13. Bearing the stripped rod of devotion.

14. At the time it seemed and I can honestly say although in hindsight to have done otherwise them’s the breaks don’t mean this flippant can’t quite express these sincerest apologies.

15. Glib circle, your days are numbered.

16. Clothed in white. Flowers for the ladies. Died well. And even singing.

17. Arching its back the desert’s licked, wind-clean.

18. Unsustainable magnificence. Wait.

19. Swarthy jug. Ubiquitous belly. Common enough.

20. Confused by the nature of the feast.

21. The bridge of rejoinders, the gates of rhetoric, the armies of circumlocution. Forward march.

22. If you put it like that.

23. That sweet slut melancholy, his desperate thighs. Despair’s perfunctory orgasm. (There’ll be nothing else.)

24. I shouldn’t be so hard on her.

25. The naked god. The singing god. The god of crisp exchanges.

26. The simplest things our slowest pace require. Bell deep.

27. Dispensation of regard, your fair attention.

28. Body best and simple warmth. Light out.

29. Bronze amongst the clouted rubble. This eye. Branches.

30. Massy rosen. Windowfull.

31. Knuckled down. The usual conclusion. Trip.

32. A grey horse sleeving its shadow through ghost gums.

33. Blue riderly. Fetch. A long note.


where winged
unhinged by blather
a proper man for rules
as light or wanton
in the bed
who comes and goes

what are words that can be shed
passed off
purely post
showpiece for the gulls
must’ve laughed behind the mask
other other as
these limbs

bent to satisfy some
itch for ownership
measured mewling
keeping score
more to the point
and pinned

morsel to a maw
it barely
in the long run
down and dis-
may not none of
the above
shall light a way
limp just discernible in the
half bright halter swung
the rot rot

forgive me
I’m an Irish never


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