Issue 4: Aidan Semmens


A nocturne in three distressed sonnets


it is the eye where as for this glaucous thing you did not look

at me so and look; because the bone and ash of the root

which raises the unremembered grass

like a piece of the human in the field

the people who do not desire have remembered perhaps

whether almost being, having been ashamed perhaps

the red light of pain reverses the stomach

which shines with pain of the window

exceeds the glitter of all promises in order to deceive the eye

– as for all this, all meanings of being here,

this is not what we mean, they are not here –

an observer of the fear can be deduced perhaps

but shiftless possibility of the mask decreases

the residual importance of the face


as for the blood of dream as seen in the dream mirror

the dream is cold; as for us in necessary marginal

profit of our one self is thought in doubt

concerning the world where it exceeds the story

which is knit because we hide to prove frame

of the reflection where the surface past night

chill of stare at the window is thin; as for us it was

there or anywhere at all; no blood, no blood

at the present surface which is painted

in the wall of night yet you hear the muscle

of your heart in moments of ritual rigorously compressed

the hallucination of image and the impression

continual truth at the time of ceremony

the words more important than the dream


whether I like it or not it is bound to happen

having the rumble threat daily increases

the snow remains lightly but the road is accurate

though curtailment of courses via the bents

is scattered with ash the sky I remember was softer blue

and the waterdrop in the olive drab leaf shines

now brassbound the curtains hang in heavy aspects

reading of old women and the smell of rivers will penetrate

city as the roar of tyres downward of street

that only live in memory the finalisation of cinemas

were a bitter blow – I miss the glad upward-illuminated nights

and it forbids now to leave the house until further –

at hazard to receive scattered edict

transacted by wireless pronouncings & bound of the tongue


And they buried him with his fathers in the field

What’s all this rancour about?

Life is too precious to keep long.

It is quite dark now & I stumble

at frequent intervals over the dead.

It is strange to be back in the city.

I am not sure the paving can be trusted.

In the church the flowers smell of polish & the candles

of foreign nights after rain.

I feel a peculiar appetite

for buying clothes. The streets are full of people

hawking personal possessions, their own

& other people’s bodies,

umbrella handles intricately carved from bones of saints,

fine relics filched from the catacombs.

Who bakes the stars dispatches idiots

to the limits of creed & credence,

our credentials merely all those things

that cannot be disbelieved. What next?

We sing our signs, subsist

for our own recreation

in narratives carefully controlled, constructed

to keep the gullible in thrall.

Call of the ram’s horn simulates bare fells,

wind & distance among these clustered streets.

Aidan Semmens read of himself in Jacket magazine in 2002 that he 'has long given up writing poetry'. The extent to which that statement no longer holds is evidenced by subsequent work in Shearsman, Great Works, Shadowtrain, Stride, Jack and Jacket itself, and forthcoming from Free Verse. Aidan Semmens is a sports sub-editor for the News of the World.