the poetry that matters

Gillian Prew

Gillian Prew lives in Scotland. She has a philosophy degree and a succession of low-paid, menial jobs to her credit. Some of her poems can be found at Eviscerator Heaven, Up the Staircase, The Glasgow Review, Eleutheria, The Recusant, Heavy Bear, Counterexample Poetics, Full of Crow and The Plebian Rag.  She is responsible for three collections of poems.

abstract #1

There is more to a long time than years. There is
staying still fretting for itself bloodying its knuckles
in secret knowing nothing of men and the arc of their troubles

...a serrated tool.

I have thought more of myself than I ought but
mostly less

...if only I didn’t have to speak

...and if bombs were beautiful.

I have breasts: they are beasts
tame as vanilla.

I have wanted things.

It is a long haul to the grave all
hunched gathering hair

...black is best for that.

Even love is not red
or something bright.

abstract #2

I want to crumble alone. It is
the only way to gather the pieces
with dignity. They will be grey

and puce.

We grow in the face of gravity then
it spits on us

a host of inert spawn.

Love is important

but hard. Toss your egos aside.

I collect weather. I have a tray of rainbows
but they are dead. I live in fog.

Keep your egos. You will need them
but always treat them with a little contempt

they are used to it.

Yes, there is the sun


abstract #3

Too sure of something broken. Unsure
of everything possible

...the caked smiles and the missing bones
plugfulls of hair pine in dirty water collecting.

How do wings work?

The decoration of desperation. We have no plumage
save our petty coloured vestments

underneath we are all text book
and we wish for poetry.

First in line now as the generations have perished
and it was not war but inevitability

and through the process of induction we will all die
but mostly through the process of living.

The desert has blue sky every day and
everything there is for dying daily
without writing treatises on existence.

Read books is all I can say: it curtails the anguish
or at least makes it seem familiar.

I will mention love here. It does not make one ounce
of difference in the end, but it exists in the desert, in
the wing, in the written word, in the broken things.

abstract #4

The saddest part of me carves its home
from bone, lives like a dog.

Out there too much
grief already I...

take the ‘o’ from snow
...sigh white
...bleed water. Not everything can be red

...so much is pale as a forgotten name
and pierces like the ribs of a whale too big

for small.

Yes, we are small. Even the large ones who claim
the world and shout at the moon that it does not matter.

We have pieces of ourselves
and the strain of coherence
the freedom of disarray.

The frost of a single idea is stealing me to crystal.

Sometimes I feel so ridiculous.

abstract #5

The cult of Dreadful is human.

The marked stones reek of dignity
yet the corpses would still be fucking
were they not so weighed down with propriety.

The inescapable twitching of crumbling groins
much of nothing in the shell of their sex

...and the crosses bending
sugared eulogies souring.

Dry pieces in a whiff of hell employing strategies
to shake the soil to a comfortable embarrassment.

...We must be broken to spill.

Death: the final creative act
a freedom of orchestrated madness
a sign of original violence.

...I feel most alive when I am still.

There are versions of me
all soiled

...the tragedy is almost laughable.

abstract #6


a mask of accomplishment
dying suddenly over many years
in self-admiration

...this is no atmosphere for breathing.

How rigid lungs are:
they separate
the ins and outs.

just a place with a damp chair;
an odour;
a slight recollection of song.

It is impossible
to rip the sinister from ideas
when they are all borrowed

...and broadcast...

I am shown televised disasters
- none less than average society.

Undeterred by the shape of failure
how I hate the way my breasts droop.

abstract #7

Frozen, mostly, in emergency
their eyes stale
like wedding champagne
on the eve of divorce.

like wet wood
- their hearts

...and their shallow pockets
somehow finding freedoms.

The squeeze of eternity on the impossible.

How the impossible is sometimes possible
but eternity isn’t

...how it swings seductively
for the faithful

...even under tonnes of sweating rock.

Cells perish
into something else
a blind dissemination

...a hollow victory.

All around us is sleep...

people dreaming they are
as perfect as geometry
as flawed as philosophy

...and a maddening silence that comes
with too much talking.

abstract #8

Moving on from the wire
and its imperfect amputations
we outgrow our callow sufferings
and their superficial solaces.

We claw for love like it is a bone in dirt.
We swallow it like a flesh grenade.

The caverns of days restrain our light
to a distant perimeter.

Bright stockings and gloves
for a dark winter
and the heat of a heart
- a caged sun.

Poets and the shadows they leave;
their words heavy with living.

The shift of shadow
has no substance

...most of us a long cry from sorrow.

Our pains
for art
to a blinding darkness
when most of life exists
in dawn
or twilight

...and the ferocity of anything
but enough
to inspire us to breathing.

abstract #9

We sing old comfort, frail
and sorely, speaking amid tunes
in soft voices to communicate
our humble tendernesses

... our sweet injuries
our captivating bruises

...our crude lines
our heavy thoughts

...our inconstant wings.

Beauty is everywhere.
It is becoming the annihilation of beauty
losing all meaning. It is gloss
and fakery
cheap and dishonest
when it should be forlorn,
embedded in history
straddling nirvana
into a long sigh.


 seduced to fresh corruptions
in each passing image
and public
bronzing its skin in light
from machines.

It may be memory
- a tired flag
in an ailing wind trembling
like an old man remembering
his young wife
...her thighs
...the scent of her throat
opening up
its soft antechamber.

In truth...

beauty stores the world’s simplicities
its complexities
...its old songs.

...it is a distant voice:
a present witness.


abstract #10

Life fills me easily
with coffee
and insecure moments.

Life breeds old life
as generously as death

- closer than it was yesterday

and flying overhead always
not like a vulture
but my parents
believing them to be immortal

I read the philosophers. They care
about truth
or what it stands for

...and the poets
who care about living
and dying mostly.

We are shouting
with no voices
at the injustices
and the harm it causes
not to be heard is
only a pleasure to the deaf.

we are framed
in bodies relenting
to time. We would go mad
were it not so slow
and deviously incremental.

But certainty is a fool:
the imperious brother of possibility.

The philosophers have answers
but no Answer.

The poets have only poems
and questions

...and sometimes that is enough.


abstract #11

Empty like the anxious prayer of a dead man. Yet
womb - and full with its summoned horror.

Sifting sand incessantly, looking for the substance
of the important gaps; the places where the dead leave
secrets tucked in some mortal treasure hunt. Stop.

...mentioning the dead. They are of no help. Go
and imagine that you are alive. The dead will

still be there – in infinity
if the mathematicians can agree. And we...

what else but temporary, active lumps? Haunted
pronouns, so very individual, but
so very the same. Even men

need love
though sex is important, and reason often
redundant. Women

‘s hearts are soft as their deliquescing breasts

...two premises
with a watertight conclusion

inspired by gravity, if
external forces are like poetry, or
something more sinister. It is

all as it is, and
meaning is imposition.

Do the autarchic cats have
to  account for themselves?

abstract #12

(Stage One) Always summer and our hot bodies
in the long days.

Supple discourse accompanied by applause and
sharp teeth biting to the blood.

Keen as libido; fresh and urgent.

The arrangement of hips and strong hair.

(2?) Equidistant from the sun our miseries;
our shadows sleepwalkers, carving
answers at the crust in bold translations
of infected languages.

There are memories in our tools; these words
connected back in languid chains of misremembering.

(Third Age) Thin, quiet days and sometimes
a sudden smile.

A notion of forgotten ideologies.

Picking our plots, or deciding to be left
somewhere discreet, where it does not matter.

Allowing ourselves all of it but nothing beyond.

Picking flowers for the last time, and the weight of them

abstract #13

Sometimes, intimate disaster, and our intricate defences
 - walls decorated with the relative addictions of our age.

We, in sterile normalcy, drain the credible from magnificence.

Our stories becoming too cumbersome for authenticity
cling to a fake affinity. This is our mirror nevertheless. We are
acclimatised to its desire more fully than awareness. (Work

hard to buy your freedom. It lies
in houses and gold. Then you can afford
abroad.) You have been sold
idiocy as if it were glamorous.

Do not feel it futile to be subtle.

abstract #14

Galloping children steal the light as if it is theirs. We do not care:
 sunshine is not a philosophy.

We kiss with a thin orthodoxy; tongues a thick subtext

...and an arrangement of limbs
beyond what it is like to be winter.

There is nothing perfect but what is approximate to it.

I manoeuvre myself back from the distant,
and the view is the full red quilt of our skin.

We have sucked the roots from ourselves. Unpinned
from the past now is everything, like the swing
of our eyes to a point between.

The x-ray would show droplets of supple blood
but the bone is there beneath and aloof knowing
that ghosts are only diagrams of deaths not let go.

Life is mere layers of death but the strength of them is love,
and if our necks were sugar they would be no less brittle.

abstract #15

It pulls like the edge of a storm and calls
to my soul. My soul? No,
just a muscle tic of vehement orange
that warms the shadows enough.

So many ways to be, and why not
be some of them? Not always
the shelter of a lung that filters life to a ghost.

It is our voices mingled on the pink boats of our tongues;
our tongues mingled in the soft berths of our mouths.

Inside, my incoherencies choose poetry over analysis
translating the confused to the written, and each word
sodden with willingness, the need
to make contact with another surface.

The years are collecting themselves into a lifetime.
How they misbehave. But they have learned
enough, and that is probably love.

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