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Aidan Semmens - Five Prose Poems

Aidan Semmens


An argument for the invention of the interrobang 

Oo, man, wharrier think yer deein’? Cushie Butterfield, a big lass and a bonny lass, has a powerful pair of lungs on her. Down the street, the two lads stop trying to twist the wing mirror off the Ford Anglia parked outside number twenty-eight. Cushie takes one stride towards them. She thinks he recognises one of the little imps. Ah’ll be hevin’ words wi’ yor mam, Lev Bronstein! she bellows at the scarpering backs.


Descant on Rawthey’s madrigal 

The elms and apples around the village green are coming into flower as Isaac Newton, breathing hard after almost two hours of running and chasing on the uneven grass, stands bent forward, hands on muddy knees, rigid arms the strut bracing the angle of his legs and spine. He will leave it to the other boys to agree whether his shot, which grazed the pile of jumpers, would have bounced in or out off a proper goalpost. Young, plump Jamie Boswell might have saved it had he really tried. At this moment, as Isaac is starting to imagine, almost smell, the stew and dumplings his mother will be preparing for supper, the gentle bull tethered by the churchyard wall begins to low in a sweet, rich tenor.


The up escalator 

No top of the creaking, cranking stairway is not yet in view as it raises her relentlessly between the drab walls enclosing the interminable line of human backs preceding her. Lucrezia dare not turn enough to look downwards, but senses the near presence of her brother Cesare, and behind him the continuing line of bodies, each occupying a single slatted step, each immured in their own small thoughtworld. No one speaks. Or if they do, their words are lost in the sounds of the mechanism.

Sigmund Freud’s first e-cigarette

The cloudchasing sage of Vienna is agreeably surprised by the krispy-kreme flavour, ponders the erotic potential of the shiny tank, the tight-curled glow of the heating coil, insertion of the battery, the metal nipple mouthpiece. All the same, he cannot find it in him not to be disappointed by the timid mitigation of thrilling risk. Sometimes, he reflects, a cig-alike is just a cig-alike.

Giuseppe Lorenzo Gatteri has a lot to answer for

Taking the back streets of Rome at breakneck pace as ever, Cesare Borgia swerves abruptly and brings the cardinal-red Ferrari to a sudden halt. He knows instantly that what he has just glimpsed will haunt him for a lifetime. He looks in his mirror, then back over his shoulder to check. There can be no doubt. This is no case of mistaken identity, no mere lookalike, no imposter or doppelganger. The man he has narrowly avoided running over on the corner of Piazza Dante and who is now looking back at him in anger and disbelief is indeed himself.


Copyright © Aidan Semmens, 2020

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