All My Poems Are Advertisements for Me
When I was young there was nothing exactly stupid
about the world. In fact, in the good old days
there was the thump and the tug of it, the way it heaved itself
like a stone, yanked so to speak in glory,
the way it fell up, crushed up, and then crushed up again,
getting newer and newer, louder and sweeter,
the way it watched its own face fall between its fingers
as though its face were a handful of gold coins.
I think I might have known the whole drag of everything
going upwards, a tide that pulled me with it.
Actually, I know I did. (You were part of all this by the way.)
And the sky, well, where to begin?
The sky was so adult, not imbecilic or thin or so-so or girlish.
Did I outgrow it?
Did I drink it, shoot it, find a way round it?
Did I get inside it and drive off in it?
Forgive me, but on my way to work this morning,
even though the sun was on ﬁre and the trees were up,
I was in the apocalypse. Death is not what you think it is.
It’s actually what I think it is.
A cat called Orangey was in a number of movies,
but he didn’t know he was. He didn’t even know
he was in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Obviously he knew nothing about it. All he registered
were the peculiar new locations, the heat of the lights,
and a vague sense of fear, as well as bursts of affection
coming from the people around him.
Of course cats know just about nothing
of the human world at all.
They live in a parallel universe inside the human world.
Mostly smaller than it and fitting into it,
though in places its boundaries stretch beyond
the boundaries of our experience in soft tubular fingers.
Their consciousness would be repellent to us if we could
Its lack of words and its meat and the fur that we might
experience as being in our mouths.
The paucity of its dimensions, that flatness, would press us
to the ground, make our heads split.
The configuration of their genes is such that they would
bring us down,
would make us blind to everything that from up here
we are able to see,
and open up, at last, a sharp slick world full of certainty
and ease of feeling.
Yes I admit that I have ate
that once cool and heavy egg that would
one day have hatched a clever goose of gold.
I cooked it in a pan until it smelted from a hard
into a runny yolk,
and then I promptly drank the molten yellow,
gulped it down and felt it start to burn away
my tongue and gums and teeth whose residue
then blew away as smoke. I felt it coursing down
my roasting throat, through the squiggle
of my blistered viscera,
all the way beyond my screaming shitter
from which it oozed and swarmed and spread
wet metal excrement about my seared balls
and buttocks, before it slowly made to thicken.
And once I’d died of pain, then some time
afterwards I ate away my flesh and bone:
I sank my corpse in acid till no bit of it remained
but just this shiny winding cast, this meandered
single golden sprue that rises from its golden stand,
and displayed like this so well describes a fool.
9 So I hid my song
10 You know when you drop
11 All My Poems Are Advertisements for Me
12 Meanwhile, Trees
13 So I was at home doing the washing up
14 The Sea
15 The Madding Wind
16 When You Come in, Poppet
17 A train, pale white in colour,
18 Look at Our Faces – How Dead We’re Going to Be!
19 The Shoes of a Clown
20 A cat called Orangey was in a number of movies,
21 The Uncertainty Principle
22 You know that intermingled time of night and day
23 The Fire
24 Uh-Oh Sweet Wife
25 As Though We Hoped to Be Forgiven
26 A Glib
27 Yes I admit that I have ate
28 King Richard I
29 Confessional Poem
30 The Meeting
32 Poem in which
33 Innovations in Naval Gunnery
34 Underground Beekeeping
35 Vegetable Magnetism
36 Outdoor Philately
37 No Moose
39 Sometimes a Phallus Is Just a Phallus
40 The Dead Are Helpless
41 The Voice
42 Those worms that inhabit the bowel,
43 In the Boulangerie
44 Guns in Films
45 It’s hard to see Hamlet as some kind of everyman,
46 The Decline of the Long s
47 No More Mr Nice Guy
48 Professor Hydrofoil Is Attending a Matinee
50 The Tenant
51 We rested our hands
54 i Collaboration
55 ii The Stage Is Set
57 iii Does a Filmic Wind Tousle the Photo-Real Grass?
60 iv Denmark Brochure
61 v Manning in the Rock Garden
62 vi Out Here in the Future, Everything Is Doubly Suspect
64 vii I am lordly, puce and done,
65 viii Don’t talk to me about ghosts,
74 ix Enter a Ghost Smelling Minty
75 The Common Quail
77 The Lawn Sprinkler
78 First off,
‘The post-Beckettian self-inquisition offered up by Mark Waldron (a poet, incidentally, writing consistently better than virtually any other at the moment).’ – Ahren Warner, Best British Poetry 2013
‘Mark Waldron is the most striking and unusual new voice to have emerged in British poetry for some time. His offbeat observations and surreal imaginings are set off by a precise management of tone and mordant sense of humour. There is much black comedy in these poems but at the same time it becomes evident that a deeply humane sensibility is at work. His great gift is to face two ways at once: to our received culture, traditional and popular, and towards odd new ways of imagining ourselves. He brings to bear a sharp ear for the absurd coupled with a sure footed clarity and grace of speech. This enables him to write unforeseeable wordplays and images. In this way, his work captures exactly the uncertain mix of what it is to be a person living today – I really cannot recommend it highly enough.’ – John Stammers
‘Every so often you forget just how good Mark Waldron is. Then you read a random poem and end up hissing "damn" like a thwarted villain.’ – Kirsten Irving
‘One poet …who, above all others, cries out to reach an American audience… Waldron has been busy forging a new language of deadpan, twenty-first century surreal, as receptive to John Berryman’s influence as anything written in the wake of The Dream Songs, as sceptical of the lyric self as anything in John Ashbery, and usually a lot funnier.' – Dai George, Boston Review
Mark Waldron speaks six poems from Meanwhile, Trees at Newcastle Poetry Festival on 6 May 2016.
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