GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Wynn Wheldon is a jack of several trades, having worked in bookselling, publishing, politics, arts exchange, radio and advertising.
His poetry has appeared in a wide range of magazines and journals, including Acumen, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House, London Magazine, Lunar Poetry, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole and The Rialto.
His pamphlet Tiny Disturbances, of which Dannie Abse remarked that “there are many fine poems between its handsome covers”, was published by Acumen in 2012.
He has written plays, and won awards for his short stories. He is the compiler of a number of books of quotations that sit well in any home’s ty bach, including The Father and Child Companion (MQP) and Porches (Barrons Educational).
He has reviewed poetry for the Spectator, Iota, Sabotage, Lunar Poetry, and Ink Sweat & Tears.
Wynn’s biography of his father, Kicking the Bar: A Life of Huw Wheldon, will be published in 2016.
He is currently working on a biography of the pugilist Daniel Mendoza.
Wynn has three sons and a grand-daughter, and lives in London. He blogs at wynnwheldon.com and can be found under his own name on Facebook and Twitter.
Cover illustration by MOLLY LINE
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: OCTOBER 19 2015
The Desired Skinny Dips
She makes a brightness in the dark water.
A luminous fish, a beckoning lamp
On a moonless night; she smiles as I watch,
Shaking my head, refusing to join her,
Fearful of revealing a shy member,
A body less perfect than desire makes hers.
How hot that day was, heading for Sussex
When, on a by-road, we crossed a bridge
That spanned an invitation to relief.
The girls in quickly shucked summer frocks
Were in first. We laboured with belts and socks.
I laboured longest, was left then to gaze.
And had to turn away of course afraid
Of ogling accusations (against myself)
And so instead stored up a memory
Of a smile, high breasts and a mocking
That was not meant but that I have heard
Gently down the years, regretting the unsaid
Following the Funeral of Aleister Crowley
“I am perplexed”
Last words of Aleister Crowley
The young woman with the hyacinth hair
strokes Chrysanthemum, a small white rabbit,
that shakes as the storm flattens the garden.
Earlier, at the seaside funeral,
few present, the day had been pale, opal;
an old man gone, depleting the chess club.
The house now creaks like an aged galleon,
seems to list and heave with the gale, and minds
summon Prospero, then Faustus, Dee, God.
An afternoon dew
so that there is a sparkle
in a day of torn cloud.
Hang back from those
whose blood’s touched
by the dead.
A middle-aged man grasps
an ugly scrub of rosemary.
A hurrah for the archaic.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
“Most funerals are in movies.”
On the opposing hill
we rebuilt a ruin.
Still the breeze chills it.
Over to the dead it peers
and they peer back,
I’m behind her on the escalator.
Going up. She’s talking to her friend.
It’s all in Italian; shall I speculate?
The Neapolitans are an earnest lot
(They stare when I laugh, like cats) so
Perhaps she’s the victim of a Mafia plot.
Whatever it is, it’s eye to eye stuff.
Gold jangles from her ears, at wrist,
At perfumed neck. An eruption of outrage
And incomprehension. Miraculously,
Out of this hard-eyed complaint, emerges
A hand dance almost comically Italianate,
The arm rising, her slim fingers fanning
Before converging, rebudding,
The flower tipped with pearl-painted nails
And now it’s a snake’s head dancing
Before her pearl-painted lips,
She is speaking poison,
And I am deafened and charmed.
If it’s all the same to you
I won’t write her name. To do so
would invite danger.
Edgar Allan Poe
was her kind of stranger.
Half Jew, half Catholic,
but her name has pagan magic.
It’s tragic. After all these years
I only need to think it, see it,
and I disappear
can’t drink my tea,
can’t find my beer.
I suppose I’ve scurried back
to my nineteen-seventies
to when love was a liar
and I fizzed with uncertainties
other than this: desire.
I once attempted ingress –
thought myself invited –
was slighted –
starched was the cotton of her nightdress.
She slept in my sheets, my bed.
I introduced myself to the flooring.
is the imperishable tag
inscript by light across her back
the sun slicing the curtains
as she stripped in the morning.
It fills the page inside my head
with poem after poem after poem.
I’m thinking of you
as you lay beneath me
nude as a beach pebble,
hard as scree. At the peak
you croaked another’s name.
As you slept
away I crept without a creak.
When he moved to his present address Wynn Wheldon took to walking his dog in the local cemetery. Graves began to fascinate him. They are fine and private places, as Marvell remarked, and pondering them took him to other such places - beds, for example, where lovers do embrace and where progeny are created, and so to the place of the divine in our quotidian lives, never forgetting that we are, at base, animals. These are the four themes – death, love, divinity and the animal – with which this collection is loosely concerned.
“Illuminated by bright flashes of rueful wit, this is a collection to savour. But don’t let the conversational tone of Wynn Wheldon’s poems fool you: they smile and take you by the hand and then pierce you with little needles of pathos or loss, as sharp and fiery as Cupid’s arrows.”
Author and Journalist
“Here are the traces of a life, the passage through it, the innocence and experience, the successes and failures, the sacred and profane. Here is youth and maturity, mortality, desire, and the cooling of desire. Here we find Dionysus, a phoenix and canoeists from Birmingham. Above all, memory - the curve of a breast, the smell of sex, light falling on water - fleeting sensual impressions that will in turn linger on in the mind of the reader. I love these poems.”
Author ‘A Curious Friendship’, Journalist
“Private Places is a full collection in the best sense. It is redolent with thought, in its own voice, full of perception, 'The hillsides weep into the reservoir', and fine irony, 'She gave herself to someone sound.../Who did not euphemise desire with books'.”
On Glastonbury Tor
The wind’s an angry god
Almost whipping off my glasses
So I’ll go down blind
Four young women squat
Palms upwards in circle
Perhaps sort of praying
A child’s hat blows off
Later to be unwoven for a nest
Or else to yellow grass
Into the iron kettle of history
Maybe there was murder here
I cannot hear my friends
However loud they call
This is a crowded loneliness
Blind and deaf, the easterly’s
In my mouth and nose
And now my fingers chill
Each sense stabbed
I am pure feeling
Divinity all wrung out
What’s left is still ancient
And somehow holy
The wind for ever leaving
The Red Rock
I suppose it was iron rich
that high red rock in Criccieth
behind Marine Terrace, above
the pitch-and-putt and bowls;
a place where fantasies bloomed
among the broom and gorse
and I was lost to all but myself
and, faraway and visible,
the magic mountains, winking
in sunshine, slumbering in mist.
The gulls rode the breezes
like gang boys shoulder-rolling
while over the years the scrub filled
with bright new builds, like plastic
blocks on an old kilim
and facts began to pile upon my fancies
until the red rock became ferrous,
geological, eroded to
a memory, a mere poem.