News of the World

a dark of your own fabulation
iron-walled
earth-lined
secret intelligence comes only
in laughter from distant caverns
or rumoured voices
words reduced to tones
which may not be believed

they say there is war
they say there is peace
poverty / prosperity
victory / defeat
they say all around is protest
hunger & plenty

they say walls have been torn down
but not this one
they say nothing at all
          is written on the river
understandings of elsewhere
          hummed on the wires
in the head
in the dark
means only what it means
& that is nothing


If You Live Long Enough You See Everything

the curlicues repeat indefinitely swirled
in self-similar writhing a Mandelbrot set
of recursive fern, cauliflower and subatomic planets
by the wheeltapper’s mallet and lamplighter’s rod
the photographs, posters, stamps and licences
a lamp attached to a box for storing yang yao
pipes of ebony, ivory, bone, silver, iron
buffalo and rhinoceros horn, porcelain, jade
amber, tortoiseshell, enamelled glass or bamboo
simple pipes in special buildings
straight, curved, carved or ornately adorned
with lions, dragons and apes, a living Chinaman
displayed at Earls Court, where smoke behaves
differently, butterfly tattoos on the server’s fingers
holding the beautiful with glasses and a pill
willowpattern staining on the exhalations
of a trumpeter at the reticulated gate




English poet Aidan Semmens's third full-length collection, Uncertain Measures, is available from Shearsman Books. His previous volume, The Book of Isaac, was published by Free Verse Editions in 2013. He is editor of the online magazine Molly Bloom.