:: Article

John Berryman 1970s Interview Misheard & other poems

By Paul Leyden.


Faithful as Goebbels, my dog stares at me.
He’ll eat me if I die.

If it’s just us two.
Position reversed, I’d eat him.

He seems to love me?
I certainly love him.

John Berryman 1970s Interview Misheard

even after umpteen

He doesn’t help ;

‘ Rats
it’s the Buddha

no…. – ‘ it’s the Buddha General
between two over-mastering


One for the girls and one for the boys

You’ve gotta have ambitions young man (?) / You’ve gotta have ghosts young man (?)

Ones for the girls ones for the boys ‘

-It doesn’t matter. Whatever he splurts is fine. Backwards or forwards or from the side.
Things don’t own themselves any longer, never have.
Time bulges.
Spit pebbles at the corners of his mouth.

John is very unwell.
Imagine the entire world drunk.
Every relative every stranger every tree in Alaska every tree in Germany every tree in Brazil drunk.
Every cob-web every bird every earth-worm every heave of every sea drunk.

There’s the innocence of an inside-out day-break.
The grease of his beard growing into his mouth.
He thinks he’s saying what he thinks he’s saying but is only hair mumbling.
He’s utterly compelling.

He’s got an inquisition raptoring up his spine.


Reflected off the sea reflected off sky reflected off rocks reflected off the polished noses of shoes.
Reflected off an ice-cream cone.
Reflected from behind yr toe-nails. Reflected from whatever you want.
Reflected from the impossible position of the inner-gut.

How could that be?
What could reflect from there?

Name a darker place.
The mid-heart?
The secrecy of veins?
The cove of our skin?

All is reflecting and this I believe.
Whatever that means.
I couldn’t tell you myself.
Tho’ I have a vague idea.

Reflected off cat-fish blind from forever in water-caverns under the Kalahari.
Reflected off absurd senses of love.
Reflected off something that happened 10 yrs ago & something that didn’t matter then.
Reflected off consolidations of puff.

Reflected off underwater cars from dreadful crashes and reflected from torpedoed vessels.
Reflected off Bulgarias of birthmarks and off eye-crashing beauty in a face.
God help the beautiful for they belong to everyone.
End up all raisin and no pie.

Reflections off fantasia.
Reflections off corners and walls and blind stops and points un-mappable.
Reflections off the octopus and the Moon.
Reflections off the star-fish and off the Good-Book.

One big mother-fucking hum.
A birthing war.
Burning on the fields of some absolution.
Reflections off all types of escape.

I have a vague idea .
It’s been picking at me.
I’m almost bored trying to talk about it.
Seems like someone else started this whole thing off.

That this script runs beyond range.
Aw. That’s a reflection.
So nothing’s ever really lost?

Once spun forever spun.
No one thing without another.
Not one single thing without another.
The spheres are without choice.

Ain’t that nice?
Everything nice and reflective.
Everything forever connected to it’s source.
Forever coming and going at the same time.

Never any waste.
It’s a hungry place.
Within and without.
Plenty of room in both.

Tho’ perhaps I’ve used the wrong word this whole time?
Reflect. Reflection.

Have I been saying what I’ve been trying to say all along?
Well, the word picked me, I didn’t pick the word.
I am going to stop writing this poem right now.


Paul Leyden is an Irish poet living in Dublin. His poems have been previously published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The Stony Thursday, Undr (sic) and Acorn.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, September 23rd, 2016.