Aidan Semmens


& to your left
the uncertainties of Ariadne
ponderous vertical
markers over
sunswept territory
the air has a splintery resonance all its own

pollutant quotient of the breath we draw
pelt peeled back in labs & civic streets
in fettered rage
on a fetid tide

the air is almost solid
you may walk through it
only with difficulty

fragmented light chimes
on the broken edges
shivered shards that hurt
the back of the eye

a light dust lies
on all we touch
your hand on my arm
the speaking wound
carved out offence

a foggy mountain buries its dead in plunge pools
innocence washed away
with fragments of lichen & moss
small eddies of bubbles
white on the surface
carcinoma flecks
on clotted skin

through the half-open window at night
listen for such borrowings
as train whistles coyote calls
wind in castle walls

hear the willows tugging
tying down in blown cascades
the unseen crimson
of erotic pain –

a half-healed cut
torn open on a snag in the bedding
an envisioned stain
in the dark by the bookcase
a picturehook hanging
without a picture

in the necropolis
countless small artefacts
of undetermined age & use:
the broken steering-column
of a 1968 Ford
a double-edged knife
intricately worked blade
cut & shut
practised as an intimate deception
under the fingernails
traces of blood
roughly sloughed skin

minutely growing crack in the stone
evidences seismic life below
scorn of Poseidon
in a fallout shelter

web of deceit
party flavours
hard to swallow

mesh of rumblings
Judith with the head of Holofernes
intractable entrails dangling

palace of gods on a white hillside
broken down
by time
& faltered belief

fissile plutonium has a half-life
of a thousand human generations


Thirty-five years after the appearance of his first poetry pamphlet, Aidan Semmens’s second collection, The Book of Isaac, formerly shortlisted for the Crashaw Prize, is out now from Parlor Press / Free Verse Editions. Based obliquely on Russian and Jewish history, and the part played by members of his own family in the build-up to and aftermath of the Revolution, it is a sequence of 56 ‘distressed’ sonnets. An anthology of poetry from the English county of Suffolk, By The North Sea, edited by Aidan, will appear in 2013 from Shearsman Books.

Read more by Aidan Semmens:


Poems in Blackbox Manifold
Poems in Shadow Train
Poem in Likestarlings