Issue 9: John Wilkinson

Set Down

Mild as the indescribable beckons, and optional,

reaching with replaced limbs, proffering a new cup

brimming squalls and joy, the in-dweller swops

parts ceaselessly so a florid gaze submits and turns

composed towards its steady exhibition to itself.

Gently set aside the knife at the belt, a dusty cheek

propped on a stand in plaster recognition, pleases

the in-dweller plucking it to join an assortment

gazed on by a self-approving gaze, to be applied

to a half-mask anxious its match should not falter,

not again. Clear-cut the hidden shines, for shame

casts brilliant copies, scrutinising them for faults

permitting truth to leak through. Each disabused

by the gaze it is its work to hold steady, evidently

mounts a replacement cheek while seemingly fixed.

The Contours

There is a pointing to make sure.

Grammar won’t come close, sore point,

                   fungal organism

throws out shifters, a clutch

Pale reps prepare to cover ground

                   What will push ridges high?

What buckle lakeland?

There is a pointing an appointment,

self pointing outward flicker and relapse.


barely cause a ripple. A quick arrest,

snatch from the cobbles,


stamped on a mnemonic record,

                   trace expunged –

hand wipes the board, the calloused

back of a hand stops the strings. Done.

The pointing suffers more and more its

own index,

is that damage? Underfoot,

                   way underfoot,

earth falls back off pitifully flexed

dangled feet,

                   bounced thought limitless


pervasive wrong

                   pervasive resistance,

points down where optative crust creases.

Mount Disk

Scamp hope lips the cart. Remember

those were client days, posting high profits

before storms came straggling. Took

a dive then we were affluent

despite mounting terror. Time accumulates

where it was wont to slip off. Every

line cross-hatches, don’t

exaggerate, grappling with crimson

in its uptick, you can’t ignore that now,

it won’t do, it superimposes, it ghosts

ever more thickly, the waves

pile onto each other, the silage suffocates,

the nimbus furs. Suffering

wads strings round a shoreline lunch party.

Rest well-covered. Underneath our

lavishment the fern chorus straps.

The Summons

The harbingers are come.

They web earth with their antennae

in gold, they pester

fluttering and fluent children,

mortals sought them out, a cathode

charge on the once dead.

Are we agreed? Does

attraction churn the earth with tongue-

twisting cast, whether

paddle or propellor or two soles:

are we agreed this is a mast

and not a spar bleaching –

how if the spar calls back the buzzing

voluble transmissions,

and positively

grounds our would-be forerunners.

John Wilkinson is an English poet on faculty at the University of Chicago. His books of poetry include Down to Earth (2008) and a corrected reissue of his 1994 book Flung Clear (2010), both from Salt. A chapbook, Ode at the Gate of the Gathering appeared from Crater Press in 2011, and Seagull publishes his new book Reckitt's Blue.