'the greatest New Zealand poet no one has ever heard of' (Spinoff)
poem for August 2018
Reality Check !
This poem is from ’40 Lies’ (Carcanet 2010) : each poem in the book is inspired by a single line from some obscure source, and the Event, ie. the poem, created by Imagination alone, with no Facts checked beforehand.
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to measure the ‘facts’ of the poem here, against the true facts of the death of fat Farouk (Wikipedia will do you nicely), and ponder on the made- up world, its dangers and delights. Glorious fake, or stupid misrepresentation ?
As the iceberg was made for the ‘Titanic’, the prawn was made for Farouk.
‘Posterity remembers Farouk as an obese debauchee who choked to death at the age of 44 in a Rome restaurant’.
From ‘Sultans in their Splendour’
The Whale Prawn, like a pink, cracked quinquereme,
limps, bugeyed, in the cold sea under Nuuk.
A milky-way of krill giggles past on the Gulf Stream.
King Farouk wobbles into a Bad at Baden-Baden.
The Gods on the taps laugh. Their gold faces.
Glo-worms bulge their lanterns in the Smoking Garden.
The prawn is bagged and put on a plane
and hums south on a throne of bubbled ice.
Stars twinkle on the propellers like cocaine.
King Farouk motors through the night down Autobahn Ein,
tight-gut tyres, chauffeur white as a cake, the golden headlamps
sliding athwart like sweet white wine.
The prawn squeals, flayed on a spit.
The waiters ply like little galleons round the tables.
The King’s wing-collar nooses his neck, pink as a piglet.
He bugeyes the aspicated blob.
Red cigarsmoke bellydances up the sultanic wallpaper.
He prongs it. It is snatched into his gob.
The prawn limps lumpy down the gullet-stream,
squidged in butter, champagne-zipped. Honk. Cat.
Gag. Spew. Retch. Heave. The King falls. Spurt. Scream.
The dangling thing shoots out splat squish
and bounces across the carpet. The Gods in the chandeliers
laugh, for who is now food for fish ?
What's Afoot ? Top Ten
1. A sequence of little poems, 'The History of Mid Wales', written there, is due out soon in 'P N Review'.
2. NZ Night ! Reading with Vaughan Rapatahana @ Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham, went with a kiwi swing : full and merry. Support the bookshop, (www.fiveleaves.co.uk) just voted UK Independent Bookshop of the Year.
3. 'Foggy Identities in Paterau' to be published in Spinoff (NZ)'s anthology of NZ poems. See www.thespinoff.co.nz
4. 'The Little Sublime Comedy' now out from Carcanet. See schedule and catalogue, and order from www.carcanet.co.uk
5. To complete the Year of 3 Books, 'Mad John's Walk' still available from Five Leaves (www.fiveleaves.co.uk)
6. Won the National Association of Writers Group competition with 'At That Leicester Cafe'.
7. Won the Earlyworks Poetry Competition.
8. The Blood Book, the tale of my ancestors from 10,000 BC to me, is now finished. Small tinkerings necessary. To be published in NZ.
9. Go to STAND magazine's website (www.standmagazine.org) for 4 love poems, and, forthcoming, more translations of Joachim de Bellay.
10. Go to YouTube for 'The Blobfish Sings Under the Sea'. 'Down Tallapike', 'Funeral at Salem'.
Complete Book List
Practical Anarchy (Carcanet)
Flying Carpets Over Filbert Street (Carcanet)
Resistance is Futile (Carcanet)
The Ballad of Robin Hood and the Deer (Agraphia Press), pictures by Clifford Harper
The Ballad of Santo Caserio (Agraphia Press), pictures by Clifford Harper
The Song Atlas (Carcanet)
Star City (Carcanet)
The Book with Twelve Tales (Carcanet)
Fucking Poets (3 vols) (Cold Hub Press NZ)
40 Lies (Carcanet) pictures by Sarah Kirby
Fresh Air & The Story of Molecule (Carcanet)
52 Euros (Carcanet)
Pacifictions (Cold Hub Press NZ)
The Alphabet of Ugly Animals (Magpie Press)
Mad John's Walk (Five Leaves : Occasional Pamphlets) January 2017
The Little Sublime Comedy (Carcanet) now out
17 Very Pacific Poems (Indigo Dreams) now out
John Gallas Poetry www.johngallaspoetry.co.uk
Carcanet blog www.carcanetblog.blogspot.co.uk
John Gallas Facebook
Cold Hub Press (NZ) www.coldhubpress.co.nz
Five Leaves publishing/bookshop (Mad John's Walk) www.fiveleaves.co.uk
Agraphia / Clifford Harper www.agraphia.co.uk
YouTube (Paterau Sonnent / The Blobfish Sings Under the Sea)
STAND Magazine www.standmagazine.org
Indigo Dreams publishing www.indigodreams.co.uk