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James Russell - Four Poems

James Russell


You feel golden don’t you?
I mean not the usual inert.
When it happens you feel this way —–
We all do.

The pavement bandits approved our choice
The cocksures nodded g’day.
And was there ever a locket of such perfection
clothed in a sparkle of Spring afternoons?

Later an indecision settled, and you only
brought a brassy character to the boil.
The parks, though bolted shut, afforded
what your two-year-old nephew called
a “jamorama.”
    Nathan (the nephew) had it right: a vista
just as jammed with the dead as heaven is
floating about a fear that never sleeps.

We don’t really sleep, don’t we just?
We are awake in our golden night
exhausted by ourselves.

The Unreliables

Her long tired hand pencils
the latest outline of the ceiling stain.

Which unreliable slapper upstairs
has been feeding it water again?

It and the illness are the only spreading things
in the marked stop of this self-styled

whirling world.  “At least some real meaning
at last” she sighs in her cottage cave.

These are real waves washing up, waves
of ball-bearings and poisoned darts.

The unreliable slappers may indeed
video-conference themselves down

to the beach with their mish-mash
barriers made of imaginative conjecture.

But force, force the point, face
things in themselves, not just medium-sized

dried goods but all the wet-wares housing
deadly punctuation-marks.  Here her tea

here the routines of successful isolates.  There
things without the mind within the body.

Trump l’œil


The balled flannel on the porcelain
Is the brain that washed her face last night.
She peers into its sulci for her given script:
A girl who loved two men equally
A wan love, based on tender pity
For both men, men who left her cold
Cold as a brain.


His white shirt is as of porcelain
This man who ought to wear a shell-suit
Wears a suit that’s a shell
Shell of thick steel.  Sheen
Of the crisp, clean as new dentures
Blue suitings mainly, painted on
From which a turtle head untenders
A fat gleam. His neck?  It finishes
Two inches down from the carapace rim.


Consider the brain-sulci above his chin:
A scatter of mirthless grins.  Consider
What’s where belly and heart
Should be.  A lobster shuffles there
A big ‘un big for the space
Making its coarse leverage in the dark ––
A bell-ringer of sorts ––
As the steel walls thicken again.


The lobster sets some things in train:
A swaying lumber across the parquet
The smile of a psychic surgeon.
All the while the property emergent
Of a satisfied glory, a bathing
In the focals of their eyes.
So all of this is most “good.”  
How handshakes pump him up
In the rhythm of his lexicon.


Passionate, the girl has crossed her Rubicon,
Manifests herself to him who tricks our eyes.
She, a blowhard of sorts, treats him
As the seed-head of a dandelion
Till much of his hair
Takes to the air.
Back inside the shell goes his head
She shouts down into him:
Come out Doris!
His small voice,
Toned to the pink of his tie, sings back:
Love me or fear me
Don’t let me be lonely

The Badger

Brutalist, slow, chocka with squibs &
jokes from the child-brain, this underground
all Loctite and prick-kicking.  It’s a life

alright of “given all this” never looking
in the mirror to track the ageing
mandate, so it must be done extraneously:

against her face and figure. They’d met
but once in 1991 at The College of Suburbia.
Good God! Her! Her Gorgeousness!

She asked the glutton (him) how he kept
so slim.  He forgot himself through a mouth
of drool and cheese.  Today, the weak

memory of sex still about her with aspect
sweet-spikey of old lady, lavender-blue-movie,
this monger of nuance and myth kitties.

He meanwhile sees age refine her
just as it grows out the animal in him
the watcher of her in his set, in the TLS.

Copyright © James Russell, 2021

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