Niall Bourke is 33, originally from Kilkenny but currently living in London where he teaches English Literature. He is currently finishing an MA in creative writing at Goldsmiths university of London. He writes both poetry and prose and has been published in Southbank Poetry, Silver Apples, Three Drops From A Cauldron, Prole, Holdfast magazine and Roadside Fiction. He is currently working towards his first collection.
And All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
The open fridge is beeping, but not beeping
like an open fridge, it is beeping more like a foul
mouthed reversing truck being interviewed
before the watershed, it is beeping like a cyborg
having a fit under an airport scanner and impromptu
starts the microwave, so desperate to answer
the question oh, oh, I know, pick me, pick me,
but before I can answer, that square kid with the dirty
glass face chimes in, too hot or too cold or too something,
and when then the dishwasher pipes up with its falsetto,
(it would have to be a falsetto) the swinging fridge door
is now leading a symphony, a symphony that has been written
by your foot after your sock has fallen down below your heel
while walking back to work to get your keys,
a symphony being played by enthusiastic but very angular
people who have only ever seen the concept of music
after it has been shone through a prism by a Picasso painting
and so when the tumble dryer completes the quintet
and their crescendo breaks over me like all my cancelled bank cards
I know, oh I know for certain that we indeed are so lucky
to all be watched over by machines of such deep and loving grace.
Do You Require An Advice Slip?
Make time each week to let the word Schnubart
molest your tongue, about to unblock is better
than the unblocking, spend more time watching
ants, learn to skim an egg, seek out nature
documentaries that do not anthropomorphise
their protagonists, despite some initial promise
there is, in fact, limited comic potential for substituting
the words Liberian and librarian, do the washing up
so badly that you will never be asked to do it again,
wear a cloak sometime, seek opportunities to use
the word roustabout, force a cold caller to hang up
on you, lose the run of yourself, lovingly lovingly,
the look on your brother’s face when his child unwraps
the trumpet you just bought outweighs the financial cost,
the dimensions of airport toilet cubicles makes learning
the maracas an option for passing time in airports, behold
the court sections of provincial newspapers, because that
is the why, the humming of a fridge can soften the sound
of time dripping through the rafters, when out baiting badgers
ensure you put twigs down your britches for they won’t
release until they hear a snap.
I First Met You In My Physics Book
and Newton must have balanced you
and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion
described the movement of your body
while your smell was thermodynamics
all of it really, but particularly the second bit,
the bit in the box on the bottom of page twelve
about my increasing disorder inside a closed system.
Even Max Planck himself could not have more
accurately calculated the size of my constant
on long evenings spent locked in my bedroom
grappling with both the being and nothing of your cat.
Meanwhile, In Other News
In a recruitment agency in Bethnal Green a Bavarian
troubadour, wearing a hat, signs a contract with a dog
ended Biro. So ends her life of wandering minstrelry.
Two thousand five hundred and eighty seven people
are having sex (mostly in pairs). If you could gather them
all up and deposit them inside some unfeasibly large
animal carcass, from a height they might look like maggots.
A child in Harlesden is looking at an antique globe.
Antanarivo, he says, Addis Ababa, Mbabane, Djibouti.
The names in his mouth like unruly bees covered in molasses.
In a Bermondsey café a man reads about a dead woman
who lay undiscovered in her Shepherd’s Bush apartment
for five years. He stops mid-article (in exactly the way your
dog never does when it is riding your auntie’s leg) unable
to decide if this is incontrovertible proof of the city’s moral
decline or a reaffirmation of an earlier suspicion: that it is
very hard to stop people intent on reducing themselves to curd.
A biology student in New Cross is lying on her bed pretending
to study. She is really half-heartedly masturbating to a cross-sectioned
diagram of the human reproductive system. After she climaxes
she is left with the feeling that she has lost her last fiver but found the keys.
A teacher in Kilburn has written the word ‘feedback’ on the board.
She has joined-up writing and the ‘d’ and the ‘b’ resemble a penis and testicles.
Laughter lakes the room and her anger floats from the depths like a corpse.
A man sits on a park bench as coloured kites carve out runnels
like old Russian miners in fright of the gulag.