Featured Publication – In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron

Our featured publication for March and April is In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

Chaucer explains: In an Ideal world I’d Not Be Murdered is part memoir part fiction. The poems explore the impact of prostitution. Each character has their own story to tell. The sex industry has its challenges, it is a contentious area and is deeply divided. One of the aims of my work is to bridge the gaps and enable conversations to take place, by addressing some of these difficult issues, through poetry and poetry-film.

“These poems ring out like gunshots in the night; they will wake you from your sleep. Yet despite its distilled directness, this book is lifted by both mystery and surprise. Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival.”  Jacqueline Saphra.  

In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered

In an ideal world I’d buy a bigger place, a place where us girls could
work together. There’s safety in numbers. Not afraid of getting busted
or being murdered.

I refuse to compromise my safety, said Crystal, inviting strangers back
to her room. But nights were always hard for Crystal, there’s a safety
in jeopardy, ain’t there?

Crystal loved art. Her bedsit covered in posters from the sixties.
Blondes, semi nudes, mostly murdered women. Her favourite chair,
just a knock-off imitation, she called her Keeler chair.

Crystal could’ve been a hoarder, but in fact she was a hooker. She
was lucky, never murdered, she understood erasure, turned it into
artforms, pinned it to the walls.

Crystal knew what she wanted and that was somewhere quiet, but
not so quiet I get murdered
. Then she’d giggle, try to disarm you with
laughter, but not really.

Cartoons

It’s funny what you think of when you’ve had a near miss/ I
don’t think my nose is broken/ could’ve been much worse/
no time to check it out/ it doesn’t hurt/ anyway.

It’s funny what you think of/ when you’re gagging/ for your life
when you hear the car doors/ click/
when the music is turned up/ and you put on your disguise.

Tonight/ it was the Flintstones/ I watched them as a kid/ you
can watch it on YouTube/ it’s a sort of animation/
they used to call them cartoons/ but I can’t tell the difference.

The Flintstones were a family/ there was Fred and Barney/
Wilma/ and a Betty/ I had a crush on Betty/
what a beauty/ lovely legs/ she was a real animation.

Fred and Wilma had a kid/ every family had a kid/ named
their daughter Pebbles/ oh/ there was a Bamm-Bamm/ I’m forgetting/
Bamm-Bamm/ they found him on the doorstep/ then took him in.

I loved that show/ I loved the way they loved their kids/
it’s funny what you think of/ when you’ve got a dodgy punter/
bloody Flintstones/ bloody Pebbles/ hell/ a broken nose.

(Peyton)

Coup de Maître

I lay you on your back, twist off your claw-legs,
crack them with a heavy implement.
I will not allow you to shatter into small pieces, yet.

I will extract the bones of you,
place them with care into a metal bowl.
I will insert thumbs on the base of your body
push upwards to release you from your carapace.

I will pull away and discard your lungs –
they are only dead man’s fingers;
you know them intimately, don’t you?

I will press your mouth with such force that it snaps
from its shell. I will raid your stomach-sac,
cut you in half, scoop out the meat of you,
fork out the white from your carcass.

You will be left hollow, your cavities
will shimmer thinly, rocking back and forth,
open, empty, ready to be stuffed, dressed, put on show.

Then we will dine. You will be picked, hand-held,
lifted high on a fork, ready to be savoured
by tongue, swallowed down into the gut,
where you’ll rest for a moment, before clawing
your way back through every orifice imaginable.

128 Farleigh Road

I find him at the bottom of the stairs, the strange thing is
his eyes are blue with flecks of grey. I could have sworn
they were brown, a dull sort of brown, but then again
the mask, which often hid his eyes and always hid his face.
Apart from one-time years ago when I caught him naked
and alone. Now in death that face looks so serene,
clean almost. I’d often worried that the rubber marks
on his jawline, forehead and just beneath his eyes,
would pit his skin so deep he’d be scarred for life.
But here we are, just he and I gazing at each other
the way dead people do when caught together intimately.
One thing troubles me. I say this in a whisper so not to disturb
the dust that’s gathered. How did this come to be?
This flat, these walls, they’re crawling with dead girls.

I know the rules: no names, no dates, just numbers.

Chaucer is author of In an Ideal world I’d Not Be Murdered (Against The Grain 2021) Her poems have been published in various journals. She was shortlisted for Live Canon 2021 International Poetry Competition. Chaucer is creator of Wild Whispers an international poetry film project. Website: http://www.chaucercameron.com Twitter Chaucer @ChaucerCameron
https://againstthegrainpoetrypress.wordpress.com/chaucer-cameron/

Copies of In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered are available to purchase from the Against the Grain Poetry Press website.

Featured Publication – apple, fallen by Olga Dermott-Bond

Our featured publication for May is apple, fallen by Olga Dermott-Bond, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

Olga Dermott- Bond’s superb poems make their way towards searing emotion via craft,
detailed observation and a kind of glittering acceptance that the world we have is the world we must write about and the job of the poet is to make art from the flawed things around us. These poems reward rereading and hang around in your mind, delivering phrases and lines back at you at unexpected times that turn out to be the times you need them most.’ Ian McMillan
Vivid and Powerful‘ Ana Sampson McLaughlin
olga5

 

apple, fallen

Her smile is waxed water, curved perfect and full.
Sleeping in grass-hush, she fits herself perfectly,
a wise moon dressed only in pearled skin and sugar.
She is open as a lake, offering a steady reflection to
gospelled branches above that sway love-heavy,
growing with all of her hope-laden daughters –

her smashed skull is a restless shattered crawling
of ferment, made only of wasps that cling to shrinking
edges. she is a cave of black static, her crabbed body
hollowed beyond blood. a boat silenced with dry land,
she has sunk her own tongue, devoured her eyes, cheeks,
swallowed the blameless sun. there is only this place –

………………………….turn me over before you ask how I am.

 

Toaster

Each Sunday morning
the bread would often get stuck
or launch itself high

across the kitchen
where dad would catch it, juggling
each flapping bird with

blackened wings. His dance
made us laugh. Tea, marmalade,
homemade jam, honey –

again and again
we would wait for its metalled
cough, to watch salmon

leaping through currents
of sun. I ate six slices
one weekend, enthralled

with how happiness
was the colour of butter,
best eaten hot. Toast.

I believed I could
save each tiny crumb of you,
thinking aged just four

that every Sunday
would stay like this, love landing
soft, the right way up.

Previously published in Ten Poems about Breakfast (Candlestick Press)

 

……………..Fionn courts Oonagh

……………..Harebell

The first time he came to see her after work
it had rained a misery of tales all day,
her mother’s kitchen shrunk, shrivelled at the thought
……………………………………………………………………..……of a visitor

his shoulders sleeping boats anchored deep beneath
an old raincoat, scarcely covering shyness
that she wanted to undress, mind skittering
………………………………………………..…like a leveret –

her book-learning left far from this equation,
cleverness something she was used to hiding,
conjugating verbs a witch’s trick she could
………………………………………perform in her sleep.

Daylight chased from the doorway he ducked under
she stood as sudden moonlight, wondering if
he would sweep all the plates of the table, lift
………………………………………….it clean with one hand –

instead he took harebells from his pocket,
purple-slight flowers, brimming with wet-hedge smell,
held them outstretched, their modest heads trembling wild,
………………………………………………………………..…..a beautiful storm.

previously featured in the Bedtime Stories For The End Of The World podcast

 

Hagoshii

The Navajo people have a word for bringing a conversation to a close. Hagoshii. It was the women, the gatherers, who first made pots; mothers who believed they had already passed through three worlds, trusting the wet clay of this glittering one with their wet fingers, feeling the weight of something hollow and useful taking new form. I wish we had shared this word, wish that I hadn’t interpreted your silence, delays and polite replies as a vessel to drink from. I wish I had known you had buried me like a thirsty fragment, because I was still carrying you sacred as air and fire and light, making sculptures of what I thought we could be with my clumsy hands. I handle our last meeting like a fired relic, searching for symbols. I wish I had learnt the shape of acceptance, of what cannot change through time. Hagoshii. It is finished.

 

Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Dodging the Rain, Magma, Strix, Cordite Review, Under the Radar, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House and Paper Swans. She was the winner of the 2019 BBC Proms poetry competition, is a commissioned artist for Coventry City of Culture 2021 and last year was selected as one of the emerging poets for the podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. She is an assistant headteacher in a secondary school and has two daughters. apple, fallen is her debut poetry pamphlet.

apple, fallen is available to purchase from the Against the Grain Poetry Press website.