Issue 29: Nia Davies


‘Body mass is conduit.

Words birthed.

Made flesh.’

Geraldine Monk

Insubstantial Thoughts on the Transubstantiation of the Text, 2002



Their attire


Yellow dead rose meat,

our friend’s gift all dried up.

So I hold it in the mouth,

a site, and breath through

the rough bud mask,

rehydrate worn petals with saliva.


It’s a matte gold returning

to earth. My minor escape is in asking,

what language did the girls speak

on Glamorgan coke piles


Girls in a world of their ornamentation.

Tongue gripped in all times

slightly floral and vulgar.

Breathing out, a softening

petallic, unfleshy,

unfreshed rock breakers, with

potpourri; outta time outta mind.

 When feeling the *(*_ of others

we touch our fresher faces.


Cnawn(flesh) births us so we peak

in here with our languages.

Cnawnol is of of of of flesh,

but the inverse of peak is trough.


An inverse of poetry

is all in the shoulders, bone

soldered to metal (that melts).

Words form from their eyes and attire

and I clumsily brought them here over

a drooled petal, my out-there scapula.


There was a bloody iridescence

on coal tip, leftover scrap and

symudliw in all directions.

I want to make a joke or a flourish but

the violence drains through.

My eyes to their eyes and damply lipsbrow.


The old rose, a portal.

If words outlive bodies,

then a coal rose is no less

a rose in the face in a chain of exhaustion.


Pinned to their apparel,

a sepia glitter. If only we

would just repress our real interests.

But glinting the thread that picks us up

ties us to their rough stars, pins

cloth roses to the brow and

it was as if briefly I was the one

who had died at Disney Land Paris


I mean Tredegar. And in the animal phase

of the coke pickers dream,

in the parts where they found what they wanted

& attached their trysor to drab rags,

I found them bead, feather, broach

jocan, bratiaith. They scorched the

earth back through the lens.

Dwi eisiau clywed eu sgwrs nawr.


Some camaraderie of carbon economies,

crash counting, stacking

our amalgamative vulgar multilingual,

continuous in peaks,

and troughs of unsleep and disease, injury,

miscarriage and elsewise.


They put a petal on it,

solidarity wacsing; ur

saesnegative cymraes

grips her girl’s belt and adorns us,

her brow is bratiaith.


------After portraits of female workers from the Tredegar Iron Works, Wales, 1865, photographed by William Clayton------





Anti-poetics, anti-techniques


Ritual Poetry: A List of anti-techniques

-       Disobedience

-       The refusal to emo-labour the job beyond the pay

-       Bad-square-cosmic-dalliance

-       Yeah mate ‘who of duck’s bone had made her needle-case.’

-       Each space in a tiny ficto-critical how the fuck

Poetry as escape, ritual as escape, everything orange, at least for one


------After David Jones------





Theatres of the mouth

in the body, a corona swaying

have mercy on my phonemes

and check where the tongue is

when reading, writing

you press the palate

tongue down, that’s experience

tongue up, that’s engagement


tongue to the top-back enamel

that’s where pleasure expresses

three emotions in the front mouth

three in the back

and the middle of the mouth is neutral


there’s a mathematical formula for this

it makes a rhythm, 

on the half beat, your partner might come in

but with a regular beat, means you’re no longer in love


and how do we get to pleasure?

Or to the four pleasures to be precise?

The body reading the other body,

first then comes eye contact

but, remember gender comes in, we’re conditioned, I’m afraid.


There’s desire too. Between the three emotions: anger, sadness, happiness

and eight more emotions

and there are really only eight stories too


Laughter in the belly, it cleanses the organs,

when was the last time?

Anatomy prompts emotions.

When did you cry with tears last?

That’s not right, yes, it could be dehydration, but

which sad face is convincing?

stop here, pause, this.


How do actors sustain it? Stamina, yes,

but it’s before stamina, leaning back, I say,

this isn’t good poetry, I pick up your notebook

you won’t react yet, you’re conditioned

not to show anger, so when you walk away…


try breathing out with the tongue like that

can you feel the heat? in the cheeks? Or in the stomach,

do you feel neutral?


Feeling the curve around the table too.

Or there’s an envelope of mosquito net, or

hey, you seem interesting, i er e i / nt r st ng

interesting, there’s no gap for a response

No, it’s not in your accent.

Do you feel neutral?






Mother of OYSTER


a vehicle one foot

a vehicle an other foot

a vehicle one hand, bivalvic

a vehicle: manual contact


the clam stretch

I got you in a market in which country

City of Flea



the opposite of en pointe

is grounded, is one thing, is buried

no telos in here

heightened in the dark room

ar cyhydnos



‘More than meat or drink. Better than stars and water. Words birthed. Made flesh. Took wing. Horrids and enormities. Chantcasters. Daubing lunarscapes’

Geraldine Monk, Insubstantial Thoughts on the Transubstantiation of the Text.  2002








[Nia Davies is a poet experimenting with embodied practice. Her publications include All fours (2017, Bloodaxe) and editorship of Poetry Wales (2014 - 2019). She completed doctoral research into ritual and poetry in 2021. Nia's second collection is forthcoming from Bloodaxe.]

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