:: Article

Five Poems on Britain Leaving Europe

By SJ Fowler.

I love extinction if it’s me first

The stupid animals
get together
all the time
for gatherings.
Some even to mark the absence
of one of them
from the gathering.
Suspicious of the prolific
but otherwise
warm blooded pretending
that that blood cannot leave that which
currently contains it,
no matter what.
Might be true, we say.


Thank you crocodile

A young man
with a shaved head
shouting into a mic,
that’s what people
think serbia is like.
Instead of a
blue river festival
saint sava
free pancakes
indigenous abandoned squat fires
a red harbour
and no chairs
over dirty laundry.
Not in charge
when they ask me on stage if I’m glad
great britain has left its continent.
The velvet centre of censorship
is solidarity.
I’m fucking sick I say
to murmurs from the crowd
that are partially pro putin.
I’m not going to sleep
time startled
making the floor cry.
Thank you crocodile.


The forest of animals where humans aren’t welcome

Get away to whoever it is will have you.
– WS Graham

Yes I know they’re clever in another
I think that more than you.
I’ve been set on fire with them.
The sea was on fire with oil.
I was with bears in the forest too.
They slept well with me.
But still the stupid ones were
and they certainly made an impact
on things,
What began as endlessness withdrew
like an unfortunate ocean floor on land.
Ice legged like the useless ones
that planted it,
intimidated early man and his will
like a grimacing face
carved into wood.
They were to pay dearly for being large and dark.
Not every forest
was a brittle lake horizontal.
Not every forest with dark held copse stretches
to the ocean of above,
the cap greeting,
not having to actually reach the end,
exploring what is beyond trees,
with my very own eyes.
Your trouble is boredom,
and being frightened,
as any place that is closing in
is melting
and lined up for clearing.
Whenever you’ve a monoculture you’ve a problem,
and that happened.
The plane trees were dying.
I went back to you,
to the environments of applied tools,
via psychosis research and learning behaviour.
It was the solution to almost everything back then,
in the bored ash die back
with no explanation for how it sucked water
thirty feet
the actual physics of that.
The nice thing said by the one
person who understood
back in the city
“a city is never finished”
The nice thing said I remember;
from an area of unnatural beauty
where I lived with them
“we’re not all bad”



They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion’s paws, they bay far off
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war
– John Dryden

A foot and mouth pig pyre,
where a farmer muttering.
the proximity of fire
to light his face.

You’ve a shock coming to you,
he says,
loads a rifle.

Bears seeing upon his property,
loss of thick skin
as a human’s gift

Warning the watching animals
are reminded
of a soft cue
that many will succeed
through dumps and depressions to shoot their dogs.
It hardens them.

Long may lungs inflate as graft
to glamour in this kind of fake manmade light.

Bestowing all of that which we might complain about,
for wound licking
is an instinctive response in humans
and many other animals
as saliva contains tissue factor,
which promotes the blood clotting mechanism.

Tears are also beneficial to wounds,
due to the lysozyme enzyme.
There are also infection risks due to bacteria in the human mouth.


Bodily Absence

An extraordinary adventure
which befell me online;
contempt for the working class
and aged
and being confused
as to whether that’s allowed
within tolerance.
What nice pay for diplomacy
By serving one ideology,
so there’s another.
The animals were old,
close to when death gets to them good.
The animals learning to shout,
selling knitted things in the park.
They say the gorilla
had the child to protect it.
I don’t think so.
It’s some kind of magical resonance from then,
the past,
my poem about horrible violence,
that so many timeless idiots
find more offensive
than the actual violence,
which they haven’t felt and seen
and don’t think is real
until now,
but not really now either,
on both sides.
The right estimation
overcoming action
as a cement for friends
who met at university.
I have contempt
for any closed circle.
Changing lives so much
it’s left its own continent.
Thank you for reminding me.


SJ Fowler is a poet and artist. He works in the modernist and avant-garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, theatre, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published five collections of poetry and been commissioned by Tate Modern, BBC Radio 3, the British Council, Tate Britain and Wellcome Collection. He has been translated into 18 languages and has performed at venues across the world, from Mexico City to Erbil, Beijing to Tbilisi. He is the poetry editor of 3:AM Magazine. Besides lecturing at Kingston University, he teaches at Tate Modern and the Poetry School, and is the curator of the Enemies Project and European Poetry Night in London.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, June 25th, 2016.