Three Poems by Richard O’Brien

Painting Goblin


When your house does not collapse,

thank the ghoul who holds it up.


Thank the freak who paints and paints

somewhere in the cellarage


canvases which in the night

almost imperceptibly


vanish through the walls he can’t

cross, or up the ladder which


led towards another world

once (before it went away,


almost imperceptibly) – 

something like the one he paints


from a dimming memory;

light through trees and swings on lawns,


all of that pastoral shit

which is very lucrative


in the asphalt world. He sits,

sketchpad on his scaly knees,


listens as the humming fridge

almost imperceptibly


fills complacently with goods

paid for with the steady wealth


which lands in the bank account

of the steady family


almost imperceptibly – 

almost as if there were not


crusted somewhere under it

something like a second self


out of sight and out of mind

cleaning brushes in the dark


dipping them in turpentine

scraping down his palette knife


looking at a masterpiece

hard before it goes away


almost imperceptibly

into other unseen hands


while your children in their beds

unaware of anything


kick downward in their dreams

and come up short.



Did a Weimaraner Write This?


after a tweet by @ilikemints 14 Sept 2015


The Weimaraner thick at the neck, stands guard strongly, has the house to watch against the intruder. When is running, best in the world for owner, many have adopted this dog. The longest-faced sad one, he has the title to reparation. The Weimaraner is big dog, head of a child, the mouth running in the anticipation. In the kennel it is social, the rough play in order to belong the family. The Weimaraner is loyal, does deserve not to die, is never threatening the family companion. In the childhood many are dead before older, from pill, the shot in the neck. The wisdom that cannot be bred, not to have too many, when to put outside or when to kill. The Weimaraner has the most trust dog in the world, but always it is for the safety that they are hunting. 



Poem in which my guilt is a Georgian waistcoat


Though it turns out there are many kinds 

of Georgian waistcoat —


did I mean the long kind,

with the twelve embroidered buttons

and more buttons on the pockets just for show?


Or did I mean the kind 

where the goldwork thread spills

down the centre like a gaudy tongue,

the gilt pricked out

by a team of young girls,

all swoosh and chinoiserie?


Or say I meant the kind

that was woven over weeks,

fitted round my body like a velvet hearse.


I personally lean 

towards the kind with the high French neck

and the shoulders taut like fishhooks,

the kind that crams you forward

with a chest that yearns

for a stature that your own can’t have.


My guilt could be the peacock-feather fine-ribbed silk,

the dark green acorns sprouting from the collar

or the berries made of flat paste glass.


What matters is how I stand up in it.

What matters is how finely it was made.



Richard O’Brien’s second pamphlet, The Emmores, was published by the Emma Press in January 2014, and A Bloody Mess followed from Valley Press in 2015. His work has featured in MagmaPoetry London, For Every Year, The Salt Book of Younger Poets and  Eyewear’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. His first play for children, an adaptation of ‘The Selfish Giant’, premiered at the Arcola Theatre in December 2016. Richard is working on a Midlands3Cities-funded PhD on Shakespeare and the development of verse drama at the University of Birmingham, and can be found on Twitter @notrockyhorror, or at his website, www.richardobrien.co.uk.



Image credit: Trinità

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