E·ratio Issue 10



Three Poems


by Alan Halsey





Five Short Songs of Thomas Carlyle





under the


of Nature
















by chicane

and machine

they stand



quantum of

superior Opinion

quantum of

perfect Police










to lodge

in blankest


and blankets


laws of

chink-small Memory

laws of

lava meadows





to scramble

and be trampled





Space clock

said and saved

say and spring





to other griefs

the sorest

companion self-

cancelling zero







Monday Night in Southport or Madrid



Nobody knows whose griffin graffito

because ‘so much of his work

was overhead speech’.  Conscience

can never be consistent and how could

he decide which decade to decode?

‘The government, of all people’


poor logoclast dwelling on a comma.

‘Was he, then, alone in the possession

of a memory?’  Whatever can be touched

can be vouched for

and furthermore or as we’d

better now say ‘therm furore’


the revenge is average.  Have

the cleaners taken whoever

decided ‘rely’ is an adverb

the same who stole the licence to steal

to the chimeras?  ‘He’s reading

the poem we were going to sing.’







Notes from the Scriptorium



¶ Never arbitrate with alphabets or easily attribute.

If the chimp could only write she could talk.


¶ As well spawn danger as destroy known script

remarked Aeneas.  May all your phoenicians be

and your photoglyphs have faces you can name.

His Troy as was but read ‘wars’ and what will be.


¶ Anagram spectre as amalgam scripture.

If the alphabet could talk.  What odd bull to begin with

but often it has charms to represent.


¶ As for empire the fanatical claimed status

but financial formed states.  Some mutes made semi-

Things are such that invisible ink isn’t needed.


¶ Devil point his voice trap stop.  In one alphabet

the vowels had been replaced by windows

tourists could look through and hear it sing.

Did you see the giant dragonfly in there

and the minuscule horse?  The golem?

And that snake of an acrostic?  How easy

to forget that the singing is a slave-song. 


¶ Hacks and cuts of business hands.

I too wonder if I’d read better backwards.

It’s not because the chimp can’t write

that she’s violent as we are.


¶ One idea descended like a desolate rune

depicts further fissures

continuing from and expanding.

Proper reports of proper sounds.

If you can make an anagram of Cosmos I’ll kiss you.

Twist & Exist are such constant weary words.


¶ Exhausted numbers as atoms in a net.

This emptyhead’s ideas are in his mouth

quipping quibbles about natural forms

and irresistible shapes of some meaning

as if there were a god of names

still busy deciding names of gods.


¶ And so they hiss.  They say

origin’s our prop.  Our common comic.

I say to you and your double

others destroy one without use.








copyright © 2008 Alan Halsey


Born in London in 1949, Alan Halsey has lived in Devon, Hay-on-Wye (where he ran The Poetry Bookshop 1979-96) and now Sheffield.  His books include The Text of Shelley's Death (West House reprint 2001),  Marginalien (a collection of poetry, prose & graphics 1988-2004, Five Seasons 2005) and a selected poems, Not Everything Remotely (Salt 2006).  Quaoar (2006) records in poetry & graphics his journey to the twelfth planet with Ralph Hawkins & Kelvin Corcoran; The Last Hunting of the Lizopard (with David Annwn, 2007) is his most recent contribution to the urodelic literature.  His collaboration with Steve McCaffery,  Paradigm of the Tinctures, was published in a limited edition by Granary Books in 2007. 

E · Poetry Journal