Monday, 21 January 2019

A poem by M.R. Peacocke

Original poetry seldom features on Rogue Strands. Today is an exception.

I recently received a copy of M.R. Peacocke's pamphlet, Honeycomb (HappenStance Press, 2018), was hugely impressed and have since been hunting down this veteran poet's back catalogue. A review will be forthcoming here in due course, but I'd also like to contribute in some additional way to seeking out more readers for Peacocke's terrific poetry.

As a consequence, I feel privileged and honoured that Helena Nelson at HappenStance (and the poet herself) should have granted me permission to post one of my favourite poems from the collection. M.R. Peacocke's work is clear and vivid, yet also layered. She gives the lie to false assumptions that accessible poems must be facile. Instead, she makes every word graft its socks off, as this piece amply demonstrates:


Once there was running, a spurt of joy
in the feet, some unbidden riot
under the skin. Then there was running,
willed. Now the body's dull as lips
of animals mumbling frozen grass,
and if I say, Do you remember running?
it pauses, puzzled. It knows its tasks.
It can't recall.

M.R. Peacocke

The line endings in this poem are a joy, but my personal preference is L3 to L4. The whole piece lifts off from the moment that willed is held over from the end of L3 and dropped into the start of L4. The word shakes us. It makes us pause and reassess spurt of joy and unbidden riot in its light, before we move on to the rest of the poem with a sudden understanding of its ramifications. Only outstanding poets are capable of such adroit control of language.

I very much hope this post will encourage you to get hold of a copy of M.R. Peacocke's pamphlet, Honeycomb, for yourself. And that's why I'll now make a second exception to my usual rules by finishing with a shameless plug, mentioning that you can buy it at the HappenStance Press website here.

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