Issue 31: Simon Perril





Kindly mark us, Robert, the very small

as we are trained; and walk with me

down the linoleum corridors

of the New Institute Benjamenta,

over crunchy, cross-hatched carpets.


Lights flicker in the lecture theatre

winking and synching

a dance of performance indicators

extra-terrestrial at play

across the ceiling; so


we quanta settle into the subject,

learn the sub-atomic servitude

of working life misbehaves

under the right conditions.








Robert, last night

I watched my own sleep

become a curled caesura tadpole


tax the box of my body

and forge a lyric tract

in tremble there


sorting the shadows

into self-portraits

all black



on the cool glass

of a microscope slide








Oh Robert, have you read

the Fungible Times headlines

this morning? They throb

then spurt like a provoked jugular.


Hammer-style the horrors

bubble in quicksand, some

demonic porridge we’re stirred in

comes to the boil


— and is served at the Institute.

We fatten, fed our own husks.

The leviathan of capital


bolts us, yet doesn’t spit

out the bones; rather,

trades us: scrimshaw.








I confide, Robert,

that I woke late, determined

to put the day on backwards


surprise it, catch it out,

ape its loping gait

from behind


understudying Peter Schlemihl

shrugging off his shadow

in a pact with the purse

of Fortunatus.


The lecture today

said nothing about allegory

yet considered a role profile

for a new category of stone.





The Institute, Robert, excels

in persuading us you were right

to extol the virtues of ash


as we disappear here

happily take flight

blown from the Palace


zeros expelled

by mocking shapes

a mouth makes in calculation.


We have no recall

of the dialogue between fire

and wood that reduced us


to a smudge

nudged away

with the frivolity of dust


to nest in kinship

underneath the words

achieving nothing

Simon Perril is a poet and collagist. His poetry publications include The Slip (Shearsman, 2020), In the Final Year of my 40s (Shearsman, 2018), Beneath (Shearsman, 2015) Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman, 2013), Newton’s Splinter (Open House, 2012), Nitrate (Salt, 2010), A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher, 2009), and Hearing is Itself Suddenly a Kind of Singing (Salt, 2004).  

         As a critic he has written widely on contemporary poetry, editing The Salt Companion to John James, and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling. His article ‘On Metis: Or, what the Squid and the Octopus taught me about Practice Research’, appeared in Writing In Practice 7, 2021. He is Professor of Poetic Practice at De Montfort University, in Leicester. You can see Simon give an online reading/talk with accompanying visuals here: 

Copyright © 2023 by Simon Perril, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author