Experiments in Smoking
The inhaling of nicotine is a
curious business within the ribcage.
As raw skinned teenagers we dabbled with
brands with royal names, far flung names; young man
head west. We thickened the delicate air
with our curses of smoke, we rebel few
in the nooks curling blue fog on our tongues
in rapt expectancy of a kiss. We
nested on our whittled vapours in cold
discos where we had our rough hearts broken,
un amour de jeunesse. As a spectre
you stir in my amputated sleep, in
the wheeze-tick of the ventilator. My
lungs never ripened to confess with smoke.
The Anatomy of Sound
Published in Lake City Lights
a more creative person
would destroy technique, burn it
to the ground, mould it into
the chemical structure of
glass, a marriage of phantoms
forming a funnel speaker
that would blow apart temples
the fragility of sound
chord structure of an atom
a behemoth that turns men
into the fifth element
what makes one chord rage?
as a rose’s touch?
of sound is human.
The Hole in Noah’s Ark
The hole in Noah’s ark
is a rickety bubble
with a sharp toothed black hole mouth
slurping water back up into itself,
with florid tack and bobby-pin
laying down a new thought.
The hole in Noah’s ark
is a portal to nowhere
swirling like the wicked queen’s mirror
at the command of no-one,
don’t hurry to nail the hole shut
for it is going nowhere.
The hole in Noah’s ark
is full to the brim
with the bloated dead,
with all the stars in the sky,
with the lithe downpour
of a universe cleansed.
The hole in Noah’s ark
is a bullet wound
blowing a grey mind
out of the portal of this world
and into the jarred brine,
salt is a good preservative.
Two Lovers, Separated
I’ll gather my poems in a bushel
and float them down the river to you
where beasts of indecent couplets unite us,
a carnival glow of heathen juices
a little blood guilds us as one sun,
squeeze my sentences if necessary
till my voice, so hoarse it’s nearly cut down
to the sinews of my throat, breaks
as a crooked sung bird feeling the air
for the first time, as if they sold
us a language whipped with birch,
smeared with berries, steamed with coals
with a voice like applause echoing down a drain.
You, the girl that enticed a performance of bra straps
on to a replica of my eyes, drunk with flame,
a fuss spread on the unfurled sheet sclera
like dripping. I said I fear my own ghost,
you sculpt my acrid scent decorated with tin bells.
Underneath the Covers
Published in Elbow Room
The night is black and draped with marigolds,
one hundred thousand shining lighthouses
raised onto my crown while a cuckoo’s voice
pounds like typewriter keys. In the honey’d
flare I bask, stretching to touch with lucent
fingertips, making dirty horoscopes.
I begin counting all the little lamps
until dawn breaks its voice on the gravel
of spouting cockcrows, whistling like a red
headed kettle. The sky of butane blue
rushes past the curtains, knocking over
furniture. I see into your cashmere,
your bramble’d forest of amber wool, through
the mons Venus cranny in the covers.
The Black Mark
Published in The Angry Manifesto
The colour of trust has to paled threadbare,
translucent as a cod bone. No one knows
these days what colour it used to be, just
shadows on the flight of Icarus. Why
do we keep feeding these one armed bandits
with only the distance of a blood smeared
forehead to separate us? Shrapnel, to
be returned in the ballot box, ears the
land I used to walk on, just gulls squawking
greedily over this carrion of
soil. We have just the remembrance of scent
of a park in the April sun. Now, John
Bull guzzles piggy banks with the blindness
of grim Saturn devouring his children.
All the Giants of the City Made Old
The sky was orange as dusk settled in
to rain filled slippers. All the giants
of the city were made old in the wash,
dried on the line, a compliment to a hanging.
How we used to speak with pageantry
with careless tongues whipped with passion,
a glory to men of insubstantial cloth,
unfinished in our birth. We spoke our inner world
fragmented as sin, we spoke of wasting away
to be nothing, just a rehearsal of colour.
We spoke of death on your fiftieth
amongst novelty presents and a journal from me
where you sketched birds, writing of this flickering cine.
Three weeks to the day you’d succumb,
eating your own mortality, biting your own heart.
I never heard your voice bellow, covering your chest,
one of the the cross eyed dead in the making,
lamenting pages where tendril roots grow.
Bacchus as an Old Man
Published in Three Drops from a Cauldron
Life is a box of Christmas lights tangled
as eyes, as raving as maenads in fawn
skins weaving ivy wreaths for lovers that
do not come, betrothed with a swift breath curse.
This lethargic Dionysus pleads to
be widowed, he wears a bulls head bloated
on the sofa, still intoxicated
with the dance, a bastard infixed as a
vine. He becomes a congregation of
moths amongst a tangle of cardigans
whose silence resurrects the allusion
of rain, now threads of light come in a can.
He becomes a lion tamer without
a lion, a re-arranger of chairs.
These bodies hover
about me where streets
used to be my own,
white whispers tearing
up the pages of
a life lived unsung.
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, 18th May 2012
Published in Verse-Virtual
A tramp in full winter regalia:
Scratching raw, perhaps Albion in wool?
That rag-picker amongst the clenched pool
Of all about June in smoke, in dress fire.
Bagpipes rattle their war tins for hire
A wheeze of laments and blood downtrodden
Spare change for the widows of Culloden
Cried across the ghosts from ships to spires.
Old Ben still stands ready to toll God’s truth
Carried by the waters of lonely tides,
The horsemen roam upon the gutted hoof
Sweeping all asunder ashore aside:
Dear God! The ripe stones themselves live as proof
That the city’s heart still shakes like a bride.
Gifts from my Son
Published in BLAZE: Mid Cheshire Stanza
under the gallows
of a Belgian battlefield
he picks a relic
a dagger of wood
laying in its grave so long
a certainty, all
he had to do was prize it
from the bank of soil
wrestle the husk from
the uncertain gale of time’s
under the rock crown
of a Tintagel grotto
lies the magics source
weeping turquoise tears
of departing smoke vapours
sorcery in an
unmarked grave. The cave
was flooded when he went there
he had his knights quest
to bring me back a
piece of Arthur, of Merlin
of Britain itself
Grant Tarbard is the former editor of The Screech Owl, co-founder of Resurgant Press, a reviewer, and currently a poetry reader for Three Drops From A Cauldron.
He lives in Laindon, Essex where he writes in a ramshackle fashion but with purpose. He is the author of the collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth (Lapwing Publications), as well as the chapbook Yellow Wolf (Writing Knights Press). His forthcoming titles are Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World (Platypus Press), released this spring. Both Rosary of Ghosts (Indigo Dreams Press) and an Man in the Jar (Three Drops Press) will be published next year.
He has worked as a computer games journalist, a script and poetry editor and a football magazine contributor amongst other sous chef-esque writing jobs.
He has written for the TV channel and website Xleague, as well as a longer stint with Enemy Down where he interviewed, editorialised and reviewed until the cows came home and put up their hooves. He was read by a membership of over 200,000.
This was followed by a spell working for UKeSA (the United Kingdom eSports Association) as a writer in residence.
His poetry has appeared in several anthologies:
× 2014 Anthology (Writing Knights Press)
× Greek Fire (Lost Tower Publications)
× Miracle at St. Bede’s (Dogma Publishing)
× Storm Cycle (Hurricane Press)
× The Squire: Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology 2015 (Writing Knights Press)
x and the anticipated Don’t Be Afraid: An Anthology for Seamus Heaney (Lapwing Publications and Resurgant Press)
As well as being featured in many journals: The Black Light Engine Room, The Black Sheep Journal, Elbow Room, The Fat Damsel, Ginosko Literary Journal, The Golden Key, HARK, Miracle, Prole, The Rialto, The Seventh Quarry, Southlight, Zymbol, amongst others. He has a two act play published. His work has featured in a number of compendiums, including Dogma Publishing’s Miracle at St. Bede’s. Also, he has had poems exhibited at his local gallery a number of times as well as at the Quayside gallery in Maldon, Essex.
Previously, he was the first runner-up (at the age of sixteen) in Ottakar’s / Faber National Poetry Competition; a finalist for a Pushcart Prize nomination; and winner of ‘The Sinister Poetry Award’ in the May 2014 issue of Dark & Horror Poetry (The Poetry Box Magazine).