To Hell in a Handcart, image by Daniel Y. Harris
Two Poems from the European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA)
Mussolini Among the Muses
I puff out a simple blues on my pipes
in the Lydian mode. My legs sport eyes
like bees, I know I am me despite the hive
mind. I smoke myself out of torpor,
exercise the poet’s blink in the dark. I sail
like a radio wave, an anti-angel blocking the sun
as I track my echoing speck across the land.
My flight plan is erratic, I hover to inquire
into what I see, what catches my attention
as I fly through the world. Radar and sonar
cannot confine my senses to the fivefold ratio.
My wings fan. I dive invisible to human eye;
my message drips like honey as I drop.
I wax eloquent, am like no other you know,
soar in the shape of paradise, harmonizing
as mathematicians did of yore. Your
equation is a riddle to be solved, in the CCTV
of my high eye, the pixellations of a grey alley
below, computing the lo-res transgressions
much as I sin against myself. The fever dream
of self sweats out my soul, I am all yours,
all on edge, nasty with innuendo, as I salute
the classical statues rimming the stadium I circle:
a Mussolini among the Muses, I sing, frothy with frills,
frantic to fly as music to the stars. I contort myself
into poetic shapes, stretch as I scatter the spores of relief,
swooping hawkish to my birdwoman’s nest, an olive branch
for the kitchen dropping from my beakish snout.
There is something alive under the bed
and I press my ear to the pillow to keep
it out. It is not inspiration or love, it
might be a mud-faced creature, its snub-nose
sniffing me, rodent cognition in its whiskers.
A pumping thought excites my body –
perhaps it is desire personified, perhaps
it is the past come to haunt me? I know
only that past desire peeps through a curtain
and, seen from behind, it leans across a table,
a saucy painting of a courtesan espied by a
policeman who plays with his truncheon
and longs to use his power to arrest.
Handcuffs dangle in my mind as something
jangles under the bed. The long arm of some law
could curl around me to administer its
non-consensual anti-sensualist anarchic
hold. Consider the value of self, the way
we move through the world, how we hold
and nurture the white bear that peers through
our portholes, pawing at our circles of light.
There’s nothing he can claw back, nothing
more likely to polarise us. I am sure
there is something alive under the bed,
and I am sure it is me.
—Rupert Loydell and Robert Sheppard
Hermes is the founder of Bongos for Rain, a charity which works with those in drought-stricken parts of the world to handcraft drums to invoke the Gods and provoke rainfall. Most of his poetry and word-songs circulate in handwritten fascicles or as sound files on Bandcamp, but his one print volume, Working for the Healing Rain is available from Lulu.com or the alternative bookshop on the edge of Zlatare. This volume was nominated for a To Hell in a Handcart Award in 2010.
Note: Robert Sheppard is following up the fictional poems of A Translated Man (Shearsman, 2013) with EUOIA, a collaboratively written anthology featuring the 28 poets ‘imagined’ by René Van Valckenborch, the fictional poet of A Translated Man. Part of Poland’s Jaroslav Biały (1962-), written with Anamaría Crowe Serrano, may be read on The Bogman’s Cannon: http://bogmanscannon.com/2015/05/06/poetic-fictions/. A poem by Sophie Poppmeier (Austria, born 1981) may be read in A Festschrift for Tony Frazer (at http://tonyfrazer.weebly.com/robert-sheppard.html). Zoë Skoulding may be viewed reading the works of Gurkan Arnavut at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-UHv9lFaxU as part of the Manchester Enemies of the North in March 2013. Several collaborations may be seen as part of the Liverpool Camarade, February 18th 2015 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSLlfz5mfOY; another, with Alys Conran, reading our writing of Cristòfol Subira, part of Gelynion Poetry (Bangor), on May 26th 2015, may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVOfQEMoss4.
The EUOIA website is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com.