Skip to main content

Bill Lewis - Three Poems

Bill Lewis


Good morning to you Captain

I hope you and your good lady

And your young ones are well.

Dressed so fine in your Dominican

Inquisitor's livery, except of course

Those blacks are not as black as they

First seem. In a good light, those deep

Blues and that iridescent emerald tail

Catching sunlight as it bobs to keep

Your balance on the branch.

I wonder what theology of rainbows

You understand, what meteorological

Magic is at your command?

You answer with a cacophony ofcroaks

That make even crows sound like robins:

Six is for the devil and seven's for god

One of them is even the other is odd

But I won't tell you which is which

Unless you're a gypsy, a fox or a witch.


Nimble and quick and a bit of a lad.

No need to jump a candlestick as

Our feathers are already scorched black.

WE all have the same first name

No matter what gender and because

Of this we affirm it at every moment:

Jack! jack-jack! Jack! jack-jack! Jack!

WE all have the same first name,

Except for Franz, our Czech cousin

He's a bit of a literary type, always

Trying to get into some castle or other.



Rivers and lakes in an alternative existence

Where the law of gravity is not enforced;

Where every gangster is affiliated with triads

And secret societies with roots in feudal times.

Violet ballets of bullets and steel stars

Unfold in slow motion and wide screen

In the secret cinema of unknown pleasures,

Housed in the house of flying daggers.

I let the electric dreams into my eyes.


Oh Madame Cheng your slit to the hip cheongsam

Is so very tight on your boyish body.

When I told you that there was an American

Comic book character called The Dragon Lady

You laughed and said, all dragons are male,

Including the one on your dress which seems

To shimmer and caress you when you move

Oh Madame Cheng you are every inch a woman

Except for the three you keep concealed.

I dreamed that your embroidered dragon moved

Over your ivory nakedness like a living tattoo.

Oh, Madame Cheng you sip you oolong tea

And say: now yang flows through my yin.

Note: "Oolong" tea translates as "Black Dragon"

copyright © Bill Lewis, 2020


Popular posts from this blog

Review - High and Lonesome: Three Books: Crozier, Prynne, James

Andrew Duncan High and Lonesome : Three Books: John James, Striking the Pavilion of Zero, J.H. Prynne, High Pink on Chrome ; Andrew Crozier, High Zero (Shearsman, 2021; edited Ian Brinton)  The reason why these three books from 1975-6 and 1978 are being republished together is straightforward. Crozier had named a work High Zero , and when I interviewed him in 2003 he conceded that it referred to High Pink and Striking the Pavilion of Zero , and that he had used lines from those two works as keys to develop the High Zero poems from. Publication together allows one to read across and recover a part of the composition process. High Zero was published in 1978, later than the two poems it is a response to. The founding moment is The English Intelligencer , in which all three of these poets took part. This was an attempt to recapitulate the development of Charles Olson, up to about 1950; he was seen as both the continuator of Pound and as having thought profoundly about geography. T

Essay - Whatever Happened to the Poetry Manifesto?

MARTIN STANNARD WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE POETRY MANIFESTO? Recently I tried writing an essay that had the working title 'Why the Meaning of a Poem is the Last Thing You Should Think About'. I felt like I had something to say. It began like this: I can't help but remember what my old angling tutor used to say: “Be careful when you open a can of worms." Of course, he didn’t say any such thing, and I never had an angling tutor, but writers, and perhaps especially poets, can say anything and get away with it, because . . . Actually, I'm not sure why. I'm not even sure if it's true. If it is, it shouldn’t be. And I'm not sure about that, either. I think it's probably best if we accept a certain degree of uncertainty and subjectivity and other words that suggest everything is open to argument and get on with this. Just because something is open to argument doesn't mean it's wrong. Later (about 3000 words later) I decided I was on to a loser.

Review - "Bright Angel Proof" by Nick Power

Charlie Baylis Bright Angel Proof, Nick Power (£10, erbacce press) In the spring of 2016 a writer from the small Northwestern town of Hoylake, Nick Power, took a trip flying around America on budget airlines, soaking in all its big ticket tourist attractions and gaudy glories. The trip, and Power’s poems about the trip, come together to form Bright Angel Proof , a collection which evokes beat generation myths of a mystical America, but behind the lines Power knows that the beat generation era is done and perhaps was never really there to begin with. Power is too late to join the ranks of Ginsburg, Kerouac et al but at least he suggests that he might have something to say, which is more than most contemporary poets. Power attracts attention as a kind of modern Burt Lancaster, an adventurer of compelling (North) West Coast vibes and easy going company who, like Lana Del Rey, has ‘feathers in his hair...c hurning out novels like Beat poetry on Amphetamines.’ Power’s companion on the