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One Minute Poems

by Rancid Idols Productions

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Once I lived in a house where things fell in and out of time with no regard for when they were needed. A belt, a phone, things set down briefly fell temporarily away and then returned. Much was seen out of the corner of the eye. A pair of boots, for instance, a farmer's boots, hobnailed, thick-soled, with tight-tugged laces. No doubt he too had searched with angry hands, dealt out blame wearily, had pointed out how his important work had been held up. I lost nothing, or what I lost came back.
Pigeons Pigeons have no tenancy laws. She placed her squabs on my sill. When I protested, she gazed at me with looks which were a hybrid of hesitancy and hostility. At night, the pigeons cooed. Throughout the day, the exhalation of their excreta wafted across the apartment. During feed-time, their twitter was louder than church bells annunciating crisis. But I was helpless… Soon I decided -- to be kind to myself, I had to be cruel. I opted to evict them. But there are no courts for this. No legal machinery. Only feelings. Feelings have always failed me.
The earth has grown plastic. Water takes eons to seep. The burnout of tress is due to blemished air. Neonates feed on supplements. Does frondescence succor wellbeing? Air-conditioning helps appraise accommodation. Windowpanes don’t open to the sky. Owners enhance décor with filament lights. A flame tree stands alone beside the gateway. Old leaves cover the passage. Wood is abolished to expand highways. The flamboyant tree dies from Roman vitriol.
Home It is easier longing in absentia than watching your beloved hometown fade in instalments with each summer visit; the majestic peepal tree of your childhood— once sacred, haunted, having stood guard and witness to your bloodline— now a giant plumeless scarecrow, awaiting, by resigned consent, uprooting by non-Hindu hands; elders who like old gods reigned supreme in their once-kingdom, now pillaged ruins grown smaller since they last blessed you in person; streets once wide enough to accommodate your wildest dreams leaving room for more, shrunken to shocking miniatures too small to tread; random acquaintances—flesh and blood and fun and frolic in your fond recollections— contaminating your memory by deviating from your script promising happy endings; the fading phantoms of your ancient town compelling you to yearn from safe distance.
Dear Nostalgia, will you ever leave me alone? Will you refrain from sliding into my bed at four in the morning when you find me lying awake after releasing the dog? Will you stop pursuing me, embracing me with your brown Yarra arms and narrow Liffey legs? Why do you insist on waking me with memories of past geographies, decomposing relationships, the deeds of youth? Do you think I might forget the brilliant blues, the amber glow, the snug fug of cosy belonging? I’m not sure I need you anymore. Perhaps I’ve reached the farther shore, survived the breaking surf, dragged my exhausted self from the undertow, staggered onto a new continent.
Endurance I came to a raw and cloying resignation. I do not belong to the places and conversations that I am standing in. The air is filled with acrid humanness. The jarred angles of my speech. When did a stone made of glass serve as a fetish for silence? An outplaced refinement. This is a wave more necessary to the ocean. This is the crusade of quiet. The crumpled shadow of a too-hungered dog. One day the only landscapes turned from naked deaths will not be deserts. From this we fall and write and pray an order to the earth, to a heartbeat more faithful than ours.
LAST RITES The world would come crashing in around us in as many days as it took to make when you return to the care home, conscious of our presence, attending your own wake. You perform a rehearsal one evening; we gasp at what we think is your last breath then you rally to sit up, eyes gleaming, ordering breakfast - your last before death. One by one, folk call in to pay respects, sit in silence or give a knowing nod. You aren't fit to speak, yet touch does affect, as one lady proved and how I applaud her cradling your face in pillow-soft breasts; prompting memories, you smile, feeling blessed.
Invasion Uniform: one old coat, pockets sewn inside the lining. Mode of transport: bike. Route: along the stony laneway that winds behind the house, through fields and hedgerows from Clontibret to the Dandy’s in Armagh. Our mission: smuggle butter from the North; give customs men and soldiers a wide berth, too young to wonder who the strangers are, where the accent’s from or who they might be looking for. Weren’t we supposed to be done with all that palaver? Good riddance, Prods and Taigs alike said. Now it looks like free movement, for us, won’t survive the London bother, here, stuck in the crossfire of gods.
Sonnet on Our Nineteenth Wedding Anniversary Green bathes the view from the office window: the neighbors’ house hidden behind low cherry trees, taller maples, massive oaks and poplars flanking either side of the frame giving way to blue sky, contrail of a passenger jet fading in the distance. The woods sway slowly in the sweltering breeze as the day thrums into mid-morning. Dragonflies dart for mosquitoes. Hummingbirds zip in for quick drinks at the feeder, then bolt for shade. Red-tailed hawk turns on thermals over the ravine. Blind locusts rattle mating calls in the daylight where fireflies will seek each other’s silent brightness at night. Once, years ago, I sang my words to the universe, and you answered me with your light. And then we took flight.
Going Home A late September I waited for them, the Brent geese coming across frozen lands. On the shore they bent their necks like a peace offering to the land that welcomed them. In their wings the conspiracy of each leaving, the high Arctic, the barren tundra slopes lost in mist. Perhaps they too dream of the land they head for. Layers and layers of glaciers and shells, sea herbs and lands. Or just atmospheric conditions, magnetic fields. A bird ancestor moving inside, towards a different time.
Ospedale Degli Innocenti It was some kind of tray she laid her in. A young mother had become unexpectedly pregnant. The reason for conception she kept secret – she didn’t have to tell the staff anything. A few days after opening, this baby was the hospital’s first admission. The container, in which she’d set the child, revolved. No trust. No touch. Mother and carer felt the same – guilty. The baby’s anonymity. The abandoned infant would spend her childhood days in that hospital. When womanhood approached she’d be placed in a well-to-do family’s home. Her life-gift. That’s how things were in Florence on Friday the 5th of February 1445.
October A single minute, short bookends. The baton raised, a breath— Lightness in the lungs. My heart trembles. How could I ever say enough? The truth spins and rattles, round and round the brain stem, its centrifugal force invisible under scans. Yesterday’s unremarkable. Today I’m gone. West to Victoria: maybe now I’ll find daylight, peace in cold salt water. In all the Arbutus trees. Garry oaks. With everything else just barely hanging on.
Swimming Around the Inkwell I have known a few poets who gave up the good fight and stopped writing. They have not stopped altogether in life, and have gone on to other worthy applications such as further education, unemployment and generally getting on with things instead of swimming around the inkwell endlessly. I say, if the fight is truly good, then you can never lose. And it’s a poor scrap of a losing battle when each fist is a cliché, with no blood left in your words. Lost are the victories of the Imagists, the Romantics, the Lakes, the visionaries. Instead, today, we drown.
These days, nobody else's wrinkle repair will work for me. I sometimes feel tired of wanting to know more about other people then they want to know about me. I sometimes feel tired of sharing. I feel like hardly anybody cares about my personal details anymore. Maybe young people are more interesting and in comparison, I am relatively meaningless. After I get up and apply my Dragon's Blood Wrinkle Repair Eye Creme, I'm filled with hours spent crying. I ruin my own repair.
Torn I see you crying at the gate, and I am back at another gate where you hoisted me on your shoulders and the horn of the hunt quivered through the fields, and I saw the horses race but I didn’t see the hare, blood pulsing as its hind legs flexed to bolt, zigzag, leap, and I didn’t see the hounds’ teeth rip into its neck, then trail its dripping entrails back to their masters to blood their young, and as I watch you weep I still don’t see what lies beneath the hedge line, - the blood stains on your shirt, the debris on your tongue, because I didn’t see what you saw, the ripped limbs flung across the street, the dead eyes open, and the wee one floating in the water in a torn green blanket.
I Make A Cuppa Some say it is better with a warmed pot, or with tea leaves through a strainer held over a bone China cup. A specialist shop had a bud float in my clear cup unfurled before my eyes. Expensive and rare sight. Indulgent, like days of Imperial splendour when women tea harvester's plight long hours, low pay, working was very real. My dad national service merchantman mariner kept his life in the loft stored in old tea chests, plywood box, steel battaned edges. Brought home carved elephants for the sideboard. We collect the wild as ornamental. Domesticate, put on a pedestal
Perspective To set things in perspective turn back to those times electroplated with a fine nostalgia like an echo turns back to its source only to get startled by hearing itself. Reconciled to your hopeful springboard you will be able to see besides the moss-smothered well the clump of the bamboo shoots, the azure sky mottled with piebald clouds. Be ready to be entranced by the porpoise-backed stones that love to be released from the borstal institution of the mud in summers. Watch the cactus and the buckthorn in action engaged in a fencing duel navigated by their subterranean players. Then with slow pace and steadier elation climb the hill and fall in love with the asphalt path wriggling like a snake that leads to peace.
Chang Cheng A tribute to The Great Wall. Every stone is a story. winding upward, trembling the bottled water I carry. Leaning over the railing, I’m clothed to the waist in bricks. The trail meanders over hills, twists down into darker forms. And in the darkness of weary eyes I unearth the past. Bodies straining, hands and backs, rippling their muscle in the sunlight, absorbing the bluster of a storm. ‘Chang Cheng’, they called it, the long wall, or ‘The Long Graveyard’, for the millions who perished. Later, when I have rested my legs, my tongue breezes a poem, built from stone and the bones hidden within.
Pipe Man This morning at three. The ghost of a cough, hard, hacking – a pipe smoker’s. A dream, I suppose, unless there are ghosts in these enlightened days of empty ashtrays. The wind was wailing. Fatal for his buggered lungs, fatal for his old body slumped on the sofa. A whiff of Condor, or was it Saint Bruno? Days when men strode through Alpine passes, legendary names in the dying art of keeping a pipe lit in all weathers.


For Poetry Day UK 2022, we invited poets from around the world to record a one minute poem for this special audio anthology.

We believe their is power in brevity: in the short, powerful message that leaves no doubt for doubt, misdirection or deviation. Each poem here is that pure distillation of a moment into verse, each poet wielding their language like a sharpened cutlass, quick to slice to the epicentre of their subject.

Many thanks to all our contributing poets. If you've enjoyed listening to them, please go and seek out more of their work. We have only served up to you a small sample of the literary bounty each have to offer.

Happy listening!


released October 6, 2022


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Rancid Idols Productions Northern Ireland, UK

Digital publisher of poetry and sounds.

We like words and we like noise.

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