Issue 16: David Spittle

Dust Bath

brushed landscapes nettle in the draft

while holy ghost to crumbs

talk                      between cabinets                        

                                                                        west as

in the unwatered wilt

of a browning orchid

                         dead flies                 the sill.

it is a corner that we decorate

                                           organelles bustling

as too a ticker times           

to home             where a one cell hive                         

pipettes to statement

regarding quality of honey


                                  dry leaf is

and scratched                     brand of the iron’s wedge

fanned quadrants of a shadow

to us the mosaic was an arctic desert.

bare walls were ice and the stippled ceiling

was a nursery of icicles cajoled into stunted nubs against their better judgement.

                                    we commandeered canals of grouting,

                                    wary of the doting crane flies dropped

                                    as rumours, dancing jigs in mayday mayday rapture.

                                    we never so much as spoke

to those giddy fugitives, slung wheeling from the ceiling. not from fear, superiority or any

calcifying principle, just a sad bass note

of indifference that made from scale an error

as the city draws itself anew

dog-eared letter                             snows                  christ in a kettle’s steam           

              mired where threaded reeds          carry





of ages            

weeping                             storm

               under canopies             swept

versatile all-purpose cloth           

dust choirs in the weave                                              measured           

hunched tree                  wick                                         without an upturned heart

and all the shimmering             floorboards            

fount of his unborn appearance           the indoors

gently autumn


wishing into a plughole. our theology

was in miniature; but there, in that city, we were relative

to its buildings and so had no idea that our proudest monuments were playmobil

                                           or that plinths were listerine

                                           bottle caps on which we mounted

                                           the scythes of clipped nails. our babbling

                                           speculated, impeded by a regional lisp.

jostling each other long into the white expanse of unmarked calendars. we would recite family-planning pamphlets and receipts to scudding trails

of living hair. the great works of our time.

in august                                       visitation           

pine legs if caramel and hours

morning was only a leaden conservatory              

drizzled through

                              unkempt thistle

seeing made

        the long walk

                             between           vacuoles

                stepped               motes

laughter warmed arc                  and scuttling

a prison-break for silverfish           

hurdling matchsticks                                dart                   last biscuit

              this alcove in the tiling.

meet me at the auditorium

where himalayan           silver discus and the scroll

               in empty fields of laundry


every incidental castaway

of refuse found itself subsumed into a mythology,

to sanctify milk teeth and the chance sighting of an earwig in a language of faith.

                                           caryatids of cushion tassels

                                           are sly reminders that our sky

                                           has been all but sat on, and maybe

                                           now, with woodlice in the canyons,

we might flush the planetarium. whose place is it, to pick up astral dandruff?

the crane fly keeps visiting the window, knowing

next time the glass will open up.

whose lungs net      glow the windows              

house blinds                       

to course through           

                             stained-glass squinting of wings

humble sanctum here in the                          wait                       

               whole galleries of throwaway

benighted                        cinnamon shops

cockroaches rival broadway


                                           draping of

bronze heads   please                   

from the vine

                            wimpled and

               journals of         her gown in the attic

scarves                aerial grain        touching

                                           whorls in belly


damp quarters            

host to the shy embroidery of   



                            paint flakes

               nibble                               the last supper

                            always bodies

               hello, you don’t know me but                ocean

the line grows baggy

                            spend hours just looking

but now                      rigging

                            dunes were forecast

the institution cautions us

against the coveting of buttons but we stay

true to our convictions and cast gnostic alphabets in snagged fabric.

                                           sometimes our prayers are snuffed

                                           by being too close to the dead

                                           like seeing the crane fly after days

                                           of faith finally crumpled in defeat,

the wrong side of the glass. limbs curled in like the inched beginnings

of a fist, drawn up in rictus signature and staged in exit

to no applause. a broken umbrella

but we are too small not to                                               

                                                          and polish the stage           

a clearing                        streets to fleece     wake


                            second hand                    arms                          hatching

               porcelain and behind glass



                            matter  speak.

David Spittle has recently completed a PhD on the poetry of John Ashbery in relation to Surrealism at Newcastle University. He has published reviews in Hix Eros and PN Review. His poetry has been published in 3am, Shadowtrain, Zone, Datableed, Zarf, and has been translated into French courtesy of Black Herald Press.

In addition to poetry, David has written the libretti to three operas, performed at various venues around Cardiff and at Hammersmith Studios in London. In 2014 he was commissioned to write a song cycle for the Bergen National Opera, since performed internationally.

Copyright © 2016 by David Spittle, 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.