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138 x 216mm


36 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


PUB: 14/05/2021










Hymn to the Smoke

after Giacometti


Here the dark has texture. Here

you are given eye-sockets fitted to thumbs;

skulls which refuse to be other than skulls;

skin that is wet for the knife’s edge.


A flensed identity is etched

here in the workaday furnace

of a studio on the north side of Paris.


The plaster is gripped with hands like grief

and made to work.

                                 Every clutch and release

renews the attack on obscurity

every smear a scouring away

of loose-weave personality,

a squeeze on the brain so the pulp runs out.

And what remains

is the core

  that you can never obtain,


even if your model sat for a thousand years,

but to which you must, if you have strength,

come near.


Here is your hymn to the smoke;

hymn to the world of flesh as cloud;

hymn to the forests of taper-people

in wastelands of wrought brass,


their hands with the gravity of worlds,

almost unable to lift the feet

that have known the century’s absolute weight.  


  They hobble into that final display,          

from the wreckage of those experiments

with Cubist lovers, surreal vases,


from the shells of those Geneva miniatures –

“the more I wanted to make them broader”

you said, “the narrower they got” –


wanting to stand in a place of ease

on those legs like spears, still bearing the bite

of so many unkind hands on their bones.

They wait, as if for the few heartbeats


where something melts; where your lover takes

your imperfect shoulders and kneads



Here is your hymn to the smoke

smudged and pinched by human hands,

hoping towards the tenderness

of where we used to touch one another



Here, on the floor of the gallery,

a statue looks at you

  and is terrified.

It is so important to get the balance right


in the unspoken hotel room

where it is almost midday,

where the curtains are not quite shut


and this one slice of January light

falls warmer than it has any right

to be on me, not meditating


as I promised I would, and also on you,

sleeping off the hangover;

here in the hush it is so important


to ride the meaning’s soft swell and fall,

to say what needs to be said, without

just coming right out and saying it.



It is a matter of practise


“It is a matter of practise,” 

the trees declare,


downing spring

in their great exhalation,


drinking the never-identical

end-chasing cloudscape


wrung through earth

and bonemeal.


By the very fact

of themselves


their becoming attests

to this yearly business


being only a matter

of practise.



To Win This Game You Have to Think Like a Ghost


It stands to reason: you’re not allowed

to reach across the void except

through sleep, and then you can’t create


a dream where it’s just you and the detective

in a blank white room where you tell him

“The Butler did it,” and he wakes up.


Instead you have to feel where the edge

of their awareness is, and tease,

without fingers, underneath it.


Learn from the glint of their eyes alone

what you can bring to life behind them

as ‘policeman’, ‘pistol’, ‘crypt’.


Intuit the ways that a winding thread

become a trapeze for a bird-headed scribe

sums up your final hours. Unlearn


the dumb literality of knights and swords

and wide green plains. Learn giant spiders

disguised as chandeliers, and send


your skinless shivers across to them

as if it were a kiss. Cast up

your images like leaves, and hope.



Hymn to the Smoke


Tim Kiely




Whether gazing into the eye of a blackbird, at the pieces of a broken glass or up at the stars, these poems dwell in the fertile space between the small events of life, letting meaning crystallise out of the silence.




‘This intricately formed collection is filled… with fleeting things. It is always moving, soaring and plunging, zooming in and out between planets and windowsills. Temporary bodies and transient states want to be captured but can’t be – the changing fabric of everything reminds the reader that the more time we spend analysing substance, the more quickly it can evaporate.’

Lizzy Turner


‘Archly economical in expression, sumptuously rich in texture and detail, Kiely’s poetry zones in on moments and ideas until they catch the light anew - like brushstrokes bursting on the page.’

Amy Acre


‘While Kiely’s poems function as powerful ruminations upon first reading, they truly resonate in the ordinary moments sometimes afterwards, when you’re drinking a coffee or waking from a nap and suddenly a poem returns, sharpened by time… an exercise in holding the poem’s gaze even after it turns away.’

Maddie Godfrey

06062017 Boomerang AMENDED SMALL 9781912876518