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Steve Spence - Two Poems

Steve Spence

Changing Rigs

Do you hear the rustling of sails? “What an absolute
beauty”, she said. It may be another grass carp but we
walked into this mire as much by accident as design and

a few spots of rain are a small price to pay. “A ghostly,
be-suited man is walking directly towards us”, he said.
Sometimes jet-lag has its advantages. This one’s like

something out of a vintage thriller with a balding, slightly
tubby man who is wearing glasses, while this picture shows
a super nova almost outshining an entire galaxy. “We think

that its dust is rough”, he said, “textured and uneven in
surface”. Take it from me, this is a truly disturbing place.
Are we looking at the China Syndrome? Are grey squirrels

on the menu? “It’s Denys Baptiste playing John Coltrane –
After the Rain”, she said. We are lowering the conductor
into the water. Yet the more the economy rots the more

people are drawn to these seaside towns. Another predator
is on the prowl. For millions of years this remote strip of land
has been dominated by crabs. “After all, we are the architects

of this urban world”, she said. Does that entitle us to flounder
like fish?  We all think terrible things all the time but it’s spring
and the penguins are returning to breed. Our journey has only

just begun. “Emeritus, that’s when you’re dead but they don’t
want you to come in any more”, she said. It may be that the
clowns are in town again. Do you hear the rustling of sails?

“He said he would stay and then he ran away”, she
said. Then, slowly, the conductor dips into the sea.

Taking a Picture

Our exhibition is coming
to an end. “It will have to
be a mix of public and
private funding”, she said.
All of a sudden everything
stops. This work casts the
painter – and viewer – as
voyeur. “Social housing
remains our priority”, she
said. As viewers we only
ever see the dregs of a
protein shake but this
building is crammed with
junk and we’re talking
about a troubled character
on the margins of society.
These emissions, known
as particulates, reach deep
into the lungs yet this stair-
way is old hand-carved oak
and it doesn’t have to be
utilised for the reason it was
made. “If you didn’t bring
it in when you came, you
can’t take it out when you
go”, she said. What’s the
real truth about Charles
Foster Kane? Here we have
arson, decapitation, suicide,
shame, gun violence, slippery
language and a hovering threat.

An Inkwell

Undetected, these
quiet cameras have
been secretly recording.
Ambitious proposals
are introduced but
lack of funding has
impeded progress.
“I don’t even want
a whole tiger”, he said.
Images sometimes
proliferate and these
films may foretell the
atrocities to come.
In most cases the skin
is the meeting place
between disease and
outer threats yet the
overarching atmosphere
is of something being
terribly wrong. Social
cohesion or individual
rebellion? Why do humans
tattoo? Why are there
fewer fish in the river?
Here’s where our under-
water robot comes into
play.Is the state of a nation
measured by the health
of its population? At this
point another bat gets
a quick feed before being
released. “That way lies
conspiracy theory and an
eternity of rabbit holes”,
she said. Once again we
have an overabundance
of information.


A Deep Sea Dweller

Have you seen
the deep sea
dweller? It comes
in a pack of six
with alternating
colour schemes,
feeding suggestions
and a maintenance
kit. Here we have
all the bikes, all
the advertising
and all the riders
in a line. “In dietary
matters we are also
attempting to
undermine the
she said.Yet the
ocean is rich and
this is where the
flightless cormorant
learns to survive.
Why did you choose
to write about the
pencil? Our re-enactment
shows these young
men, life-size, hunkered
down, flinching and
trembling at the
sound of gunfire
all around. One by
one the lights are
added to the dragon’s
tail. Products will be
sold to shoppers
in durable, reusable

copyright © Steve Spence, 2020


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