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S T U A R T  M C P H E R S O N

3 poems


Snipped off in haste without ceremony, and cut,

by those who boomerang separation into the arms

of sons. To observe the hang of sulphurous

lights, the restless bodies in sleep. Black mass at

the altar of the hidden. A bull clouding in his own

breath, the shrouded guilt of a matador.

Work hard proud admiral, to die in-chrysalis.

Know right from wrong but the sting of a bloody


Raising children with love as tails in a box drum

up against its lid. Deceive the dog nagging at the

gate before leaning towards

carnivorous intent. Kill pigs, cook bacon, fillet

steak. Young teeth bite down, meditate intensely

on pugilism.

Become terrified of noise; stray bullets, burst

balloons. That nostalgia is memory broken over

backs, and boyhood, as the vaguest of failed states.


The night is self-absorption.

     A wing gnawed open and quietly

alive. Eighteenth of the eighth

     two thousand and thirteen. The morning

she arrived. Through blackberry season,

     swans in winter. We reddened fingertips,

enjoyed slow swimming. Within her I hold

     these pieces of myself, yet this thoughtlessness

gathers under parasitic skies. Our birthdays

     become birthdays become birthdays,

as she sleeps. An arm around my neck, a louse

     upon my face. This connection to the earth,

of time and space acerbic in the air. My

     daughter is all of me, but not mine.

For if I could live here completely in the wholeness

     of summer, as a good father, a good man, then I

would wrap myself in a doorway. This illuminated

     refuge of a fleeting halfway house.


An apricot, the stone fruit

swelling in our throats

Black as organs, a dull window

The throb of missing teeth

Of shapes, the beetle-backs of

cities all hollowed out

Its twilight apples like us alone

Waspish on an orchard floor

The grass a cushion, a pillow

To swallow silence like a nail

Sunk into, swallowed by the ground

with the grace of a bone

A record of things once alive

that can live again, in time


Stuart McPherson is a poet living near Leicester, UK. Recent poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog Magazine, The6Press, Osmosis Press and Acropolis Journal. His debut pamphlet, Pale Mnemonic, was published by Legitimate Snack in April 2021. The pamphlet Waterbearer was published in December 2021 by Broken Sleep Books. A debut full-length collection, Obligate Carnivore, will be published by Broken Sleep Books in August 2022. 

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