Matt Duggan, Notes on Mortality

House of Rain

Look inside the man who looks like a Lion
the same man who had the roar of a drunken kitten;
you had seen this before in another age
slow repetition of the same monsters;

Did the guns go off inside your head today!
when faces and ties changed to the colour beige?
They would not have built a house of rain –

laid down the foundations from the elixir in dew –
(particles of which are all that’s left of Eden)
If they had not crawled away in the grass
instead of slivering towards the tree –

where the apple core fell lay weeping on its side
windows made from fallen sediment
rooftops lined with thick angel skin;
it’s the house that became the Kingdom of God.

When Swifts Whisper Poems

Let stars be an army the oceans a battlement
stand with the heart of a Griffin.
Allow those petty arrows of spite
to pierce flesh and fall in secluded waters
where no one will ever hear them splash.
Be an eye of the eagle – a body of fur
voyaging beyond the moon –
withdrawing the arrow’s head

splitting the hearts vessel
rooted in the crook of man’s spine –
be not that drifting ship of covetousness.
Let the rainbow be the eye and lift to hook –
when you can ask swifts to whisper poems
into the ears of those that despise you the most –
Be visible to that enemy –
yet never close enough for them to touch.

Tigers in the Bulrushes

White birds flying
the voices on mute.
fields of old stranger’s
with eyes of mercury
a man with innuendo
the joker with muscle

It began and appeared comedic –
Tigers in the bulrushes at Slimbridge –

Crosswords written
across front room walls –
an ending will near when a father
doesn’t recognise his son.

It was the same as his brother
sucking thumbs and football
dead friends laughing and jesting;
only if to step into his Portway
brush memory with each and every ghost;
we keep moments sacred until the very end;

It began and appeared comedic –
Tigers in the bulrushes at Slimbridge.

The Blue Jacaranda

If the sight can only see in orange
where a unicorn without a horn
walks a passageway in four shades,
between mounts in cork – lavender sand,
black-tailed godwits nest in dust.

Golden tracks catch sparkles where we count
eyes in square paving stones. Beat of flip-flops
square turquoise patterns scar the highest point
behind a festival in water and light.

Swifts chase a playground in aqua – blue
sea-shells whisper an elegy for dead fish
before noon, when the siren runs and shrieks,
gaze at lunch-time menu and ringing bells;

Wait until we can only see blue
as god had erased a selection of perfect sky;
we danced with the son of the moon
on bold lines of scattered blue jacaranda,

gliding like strokes are legs dangle
above a cleft in red brushed stone
the drowning retained their hold;
stiffened grip – marble circumference.

Notes on Mortality

Opposite the street –
view into another world
a man on a bench waiting to die;

smell of over-cooked baked beans
cheap squares of sausage meat sizzling
disinfectant on newly polished floors –
hears care assistants fucking in laundry rooms;

Every morning watching me write at my desk
outside sitting on a bench smoking – waiting to die;
If I stare long enough in the reflection of window glass

It is not the face of the same man that I see
only the echo of time drawing figures from the dust
taking flesh away at the last remaining second on the clock.

Matt Duggan was born in Bristol, England in 1971 and lives in Newport, Wales. His poems have appeared in many journals and he won the 2015 Erbacce Prize for Poetry with his first full collection Dystopia 38.10. Matt is now a core member of the team behind erbacce-journal. In 2017, Matt won the Into the Void Poetry Prize with his poem ‘Elegy for Magdalene’.

Matt has two new chapbooks available: One Million Tiny Cuts (Clare Song Birds Publishing House) and A Season in Another World (Thirty West Publishing House), plus a small limited edition booklet The Feeding (Rum Do Press).

Matt has read his work all over the world. In 2019, Matt was one of the winners of the Naji Naaman Literary Honours Prize and his second collection Woodworm was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. Matt’s chapbook of poems The Kingdom (Maytree Press) will be published in the spring of 2020.

Read more of Matt here.


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