:: Article

Six Poems

By Robert Herbert.


I first beheld her violence in a Kletno B&B
ran by two Polish Spinsters & someone’s
unfortunate Grandpa.

We’d an impromptu spat
about popping pills in Amsterdam.

She took a hot bath to cool off.
I slugged a quart of whiskey on our balcony like a desperate recluse.

An Alsatian howled at the full mainmoon attempting to hide amid frigid clouds.
(“All this bloody fucking way here to see a skeletal bear in a cave.”)

She came out tetchy in a towel. “Did you drink all that whiskey?”
“Yes.” I slurred knowing not, she’d exponentially swing for me.

(To tinkering visions of Warsaw, with a warbling soundtrack.
Now is not the time to tell her, I might love La Coquette)

We fell, fugitive dice on a board game of chequered bathroom tiles.
Shocked bodies shunting for position. She lost her towel in the scuffle.

“Make love to me, Robert.” She simpered then.
I undid my trouser zip, bare-chested, barefoot, brute mind,
innocent shards of smashed whisky bottle about about.

O! We contort in chasm of fuck.

O! (Fucking forgot about Warsaw but not so really La Coquette)

It was only after our shared Dopamine surge we realized
we were both bleeding.



I consulted my Oracle via real time fibre-optic.
It pixelated Stone’s attempt to pipe bomb Stormont
& assassinate Marty & Gerry.

My Japanese would-be Geisha gave up her subtle courtship.
Truculently, she emailed tirelessly, ‘Robert, it’s too difficult. I’m textually debunked.’
She is disappointed these feelings aren’t mutual.
Her demure seduction technique was intangibly stricken of tactic.
My reluctance was clear for I for convenience compared love lost
with death & demanded of her please that she invariably let me grieve.

I’ve been offered a job in Galway
if I re-write my CV with no mention of poetry.
I would technically edit computer software manuals.

In this camouflage malaise I re-imagine my comforting thoughts
as uncircumspect cherry blossoms

Wilting into bursting little flames set so under fibre-optic lights.

Like encased in foil reflection. Like hyper intense.

I make like Da’s stroppy mare at Fairyhouse. Pulled up. Out of favour.

Punterless. Not sure who to make proud. Or why even?

Friends. Affiliates. After after I feel for the flow?

Absolutely, fuck all.


Pawprint. Maginnis & I agreed this obvious… Your memory is glitched.
Your Jehovah superglued petulant subwoofer headphones to your ears,
automatically tuned to portents.

You ponder. Out of spite? Something to do with some sort of Free P sin?

Pawprint. Maginnis & I, & this whole wide world he supposedly has in his hands,
thinks it not your fault him the intrepid didn’t come to.
You’d no control of thon Indian summer,
or thon Indian weather, or any weather incrementally chemical,
in which Pawprint, you couldn’t be
as no one can be, realistically,

a brother’s keeper.


Day before Christmas Eve fell on Jehovah’s rest day,
I visit Pawprint. He is substantially medicated.
Since my last visit he’s invested in an exotic aquarium.
He still protects his shooter bong like an endangered species,
and ingests his thrice daily dose of Kratom.

As empty in hunger as him full stop, I conjure a blurb about food.
He offers me a bowl of lentils with wheaten bread.

Christianity’s cud is chewed over smoked soap, a pot of Kratom tea.
Pawprint decides dinosaur deniers are certifiable, but will be saved.
There are evangelical magazines open on the table, certain pages marked.
Vomit rises subsides in my oesophagus. “Christmas shopping?”
Pawprint postulates. I dart impetuously to bathroom
to flummox my gullet in gastronomical gushes,
that lash squeamish splashes against a shudderless U-bend…
Open-eyed. Regurgitated amber colourstains this porcelain bowl I flush.

“Are you alright in there Robert?”
“Auch aye, Christmas Shopping?”

I freewheel Da’s 4×4 down Ballymoney Hill to town.
“Either my leg or foot or these brakes aren’t working.”
Pawprint perpetually sneezes his body weight. We park at Tesco. I some-ways take to feet.

Vomit rises subsides in my oesophagus.
I purchase a banana to gutcomfort.
Pawprint cries, can’t say “banana”
for sake of some personal trauma,
I’d soon learn concerned his brother,
before heaven’s gate, his body’s last expulsion.

My pores humlikechant humdrum airs, Pawprint befriends equestrians.
Everyone collects a frozen turkey, my body is a turncoat to my mind.
Pawprint buys his gifts in Poundland where I’m priced out,
and spoilt for choice, on edge I’ll cause a public scene, another innard purge.

Before passing Peeler station, traffic caught stationary, I eject,
puke banana-ized bile at ironrust gates of Bannside Presbyterian Church.
Holiday traffic gawks, no-one dares doot, all I taste is acidic.

I collect a filamentflicker kinetic enough to drive Pawprint Home.
Then my wobbly self. Riot boots splattered in experiment.
My bed belches like an insidious black hole in my slumberchamber.
My opiated brain is the event horizon. I, abreast my sunken hippocampal blues,
as Pawprint prepares for Drogheda, for his first and last stint, in Pentecostal rehab.


I’m lushly intoxicated by the white mist and the thrill of the green.
My car is dead in the breaker’s yard. My brain has been fried to a meltgloop.
I’m broke, and every handyman I happen upon is telling tales of a fortune
that fell from a tiger’s roar. The Retail Outlet out at the carriageway is hiring,
relentlessly. Ma claims there’s plenty ideas to burn but no solid common sense.
Stalwartly I don’t apply and concutate. Rumour has it, a cancerous yokel monopolised
these pastures and set fire to a flock of sheep, a sacrificial right
he claimed, as a practising druid.

“Do you want work as a plaster boarder? You will if you have more sense still than money.
Sure, are you not from the town? Do you not lift the weights? Do you not drink the wine?”

My gaffer, Bosco, was twenty four and perky. Fit and engaged to be married
to a student primary teacher concurrently crowned Miss Banbridge.
He was buying Finko’s mobile home, literally living a parochial dream.
He was helping Finko to build his manor on the road of moss,
and spoke often of his future in-laws, as being culchies of ill repute,
and pheasant pleasure, his gun collection, the scarcity of fallow deer.
I remembered Da saying in transit to break his customary silence,

“You should’ve got a trade, tradesmen are the country wealthy
what with all these houses being built in the free state.
Earning more than solicitors these days. Thousands and thousands of pounds.”

“Back home from uni for good then?” Said said gaffer Bosco. “Have you any experience
pertaining to plaster boarding? Or is it all about the abstract? Or an exam to pass?
And to think of all in the universe you’ll see here.
Did you know Finko has a support beam inscribed by Beelzebub
bolstering the annex in his front room? 666 it reads scrawled there, go and study it,
he restored it himself from church wreckage, fly-tipped at Ballyroney.
So poetry, and what is it? The devil makes work for idle hands?
Can you get on the scaffold and hold the board to the roof? Are you handy with a nail gun?
If you’re not, and can’t support the board, it’s because, I hasten to add,
the weight of your world, soft lad, already haunches your affable, laughable shoulders.”


Watching mon Petit Chat
through thon kitchen window
take her clothes off
our washing line,
confirmed in my mind
how much “I love you”
meant to me, immaterially.

When she smiled
I thought us in some exotic somewhere,
somewhere more exotic than Stockwell,
sowing oats together forever
till one would die
who’d left enough
for thon poor other left to live.

I imagined mon Petit chat as mother
of our gifts to give this world
in good time
as she walked thon garden lip-synching
her speechless “I love you” bawl in riposte.

Us our everything memonPetitChat
in thon utility
in our infinity
on top of thon washing machine in shift
into us
as we drift.


Robert Herbert‘s debut collection of poems entitled, Pangs! & Intermittences, is forthcoming from Knives Forks & Spoons Press. The poems presented here are excerpt Pangs! Other Excerpts have appeared in Stop Sharpening Your Knives 3 and 4, Kritya, Magma, Gallous, Poetry Proper, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Brand. He solicits poems for the e-zine, Digital Behemoth. He has performed his poems at Wells Poetry Next The Sea, Flatlake Literary and Arts Festival, The Poetry Library, and The Seamus Heaney Centre. Pangs! & Intermittences, has been academically compared to the sketches of Monty Python. He cherishes absurdity, music, preferably punk funk, crunk, and x-rated doo wop, and also pictures, both moving and not moving.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, June 8th, 2012.