Poetry Showcase from Patrick Wright

The Grey People

After Diane Arbus

Such greyscale smiles                           All wheel-chaired ones

worn by aristocrats                              in bag-head costumes

who’ve passed by privilege                  gathered for Samhain

Blank as a clock face                            Thumb over her lens

under midnight fluorescents                Sword-swallowing albino

Her cripples, her stars                          Christ tattooed, arms wide

This giant stoops low                           Twins side by side

Light bulb scorching curls                   eyes unblinking

parents small as dolls                           Hands: resting damselflies

Nudists in armchairs                            Girl with a cigar

lounge beside blinds                            in Washington Square Park 

Flash: atomic sunlight                          Ash about to fall

Hermaphrodite and                             A dwarf, butt naked 

lapdog in a carnival                              save for trilby and tache

house, lips behind glass                       escaping her circus 

Adore the drag artist                            Flaws blown up large  

dancing with suited guy                       through her aperture

Face lost in her breast                          this closed-door sideshow  

                                                            for me: the sole voyeur


The sea has no reply—& I’m devastated. The sea is easily equated with God. It ushers the waves towards me. I want to know why the sea is reticent. Even the sea won’t accept my roses. Each year at Perranporth it’s the same. I lay out the roses & the waves don’t seem to care. I can’t say which way the tide is turning. My fingers are dinted by thorns. No, even the sea won’t accept my roses. It keeps giving them back, each wave returning the gift—like she often did. Was that generosity gone too far or a kind of self-hate? A dozen roses on the sand. A grief unresolved since God has refused to bear witness. Are you not yet ashamed? I am stood Canute-like. I am a dolt. How can I expect to shame the sea with my tears?  The sea is making me wonder if the sky & stars are really the inside of my brain. In which case she’s out there, I think. Why do we say the sea is blue when it’s really grey? It recedes now—one immense field of consciousness. I ask the sea again to give her back, please. The plea of mortals in their millions. It’s familiar to the sea. I believe the sea will make an exception. The only way to know for sure is to wade out & find a rip current, evade lifeguards between flags. The surfers are souls having a near death experience. They’ve risked jellyfish & sharks, joyous in wetsuits, halfway towards the empyrean. A friend says my only hope is immanence. I am privy to the knowledge of what’s happened. Ashes in the mica. While she’s in everything—from beach huts to kayaks to Alsatians on leads—while the sea is a sadist & says: now it’s time to leave.

Concerning the Spiritual

After Wassily Kandinsky

are you in this image

                                                making it sing

while eyes are blind

                                                lush colour harmonies


                                                sunlit through blinds

a music box plays

                                                reds and yellows

gifting vision

                                                hemmed in by a frame

how your genius

                                                finds itself blind

like a lone beggar

                                                with open palms

seeing where lines go

                                                whether they join stars

while my love

                                                you were never blind

an artist living off

                                                her instincts

your quantum mind

                                                giving the impression

of seeing while blind

                                                seeing through one eye

your world like this canvas

                                                your message

going haywire

                                                in patches and shards

hardly blind 

                                                just mute to the outside

Kim you were loveable

                                                due to your limits

your work unfinished

                                                you’d say open your eyes

just write     

                                                throw open your blinds

Vir Heroicus Sublimis

After Barnett Newman

Forget meaning for the Greeks             & Christ the man or Christ who is God

or cathedrals conceived as such;                    witness one field of consciousness

where zips are light beams of mortals.        Perhaps heaven is like this & colour

goes on till colour has nothing to fall upon.    Ask yourself about ‘red’ & qualia.                       

Some would see ‘blue’ here.            When we perceive a magic trick takes place:           

the image gets flipped & thrown                 & appears on the back of the brain.                       

No conjurer in the occipital lobe        or ghost in the machine, no homunculus.               

So much beyond the visible                          surrounds the frame & yet so little                         

like seeing only a single strip               when gazing across the Mississippi River.

Dark Clouds Storm Blue

Another cloud is the archive of photos. I upload them with voice files 
& they’re fragile. They live not in heaven; they’re in the desert & can burn 
anytime. If they were in a hard drive, I’d send them into orbit around Saturn— out of reach of when the sun expands. They say grief is like a cloud 
& though it stays the same size we somehow grow around it. I strain hard 
to find a face—then, glowering eyes & mouths. They move like boxcars. 

Dark clouds on my ceiling hover so close & the storm is blue, this shade 
of blue always sounds like a cello or jazz in the early hours. In my sleep 
I saw her corpse turn into snow, & I worry over where the self goes. 
When the merging comes. On sailing ships these clouds cast shadows 
& drag like bedclothes over my back. Meanwhile, the sun is a great absence: 
an eye gazing through the cloudiness of its cataract. 

I am a fool to look for patterns where no patterns reside. I am sucker 
they say for confirmation bias. I can no longer laugh at these legless sheep. 
Behind the clouds is the mirror of the Pacific in the evening, miles from 
the nearest atoll. I am shrouded by the sky. I foresee lightning; it comes 
like scissors down silk & rips as hands rip a dress. I see lipstick on the mirror— a kiss—her deliberate phantom. Someone should be answerable for this.

Bio: Patrick Wright has a poetry collection, Full Sight Of Her, published by Eyewear Publishing (2020). He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University. He is also currently finishing a PhD in Creative Writing, on the ekphrasis of modern and contemporary art, supervised by Jane Yeh and Siobhan Campbell. 

https://tinyurl.com/2v26mwuj for Patrick’s book “Full Sight of Her”