S T U A R T M C P H E R S O N
DOG TAIL IN SCISSORS
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
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.
HOW TO FALL WITH GRACE
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.