What a poem can do




I’ve been reading more of Daniel Bailey’s Hallelujah Giant Space Wolf – in awe and excitement at what poems can do.


How language can be made as uncanny as a flower, an oxblood stem, a neon red burst, an epiphany between yourself and a fuddled pane of glass.


How reading a poem can make you want it to be Spring, to run down a great green slope with your arms out (not singing The Hills Are Alive…, but perhaps thinking of some other song you like better).


If there was a scale of poetic melancholy feeling that ran from noted miserabilist Philip Larkin to let’s say, Frank O’Hara in a good mood, Bailey would be firmly at the O’Hara end, digging furiously for even more of that good blue air. Here’s one of the poems I particularly liked (Mr Bailey, if you are reading this, I hope you don’t mind how much I post of it, it’s just really so wonderful. Fangirl sharing):




I’m sorry. I just tricked you by starting at three

don’t worry so much that I tricked you, instead, worry

that you have a stab-wound in your belly and you are leaking

blood all over the ground. again, I am sorry


keep in mind that

this is a special moment in our relationship

because I get to see what your insides are made of


they’re so beautiful

I never would’ve guessed

your blood would be so fragrant and musical

it’s like harmonicas in the alley

behind the soup kitchen


you’re still mad at me

I can tell by the way you are stabbing me


this is not good. it hurts

it’s like arctic waters diving into me

with the hurt. we are both bent over, bleeding

everything inside spilling out




we should lie down


this is better,

lying on the ground like this




how long do we have to live? three minutes?

maybe two? however long, I don’t care

this all hurts so much, but I’m glad

that I’m hurting with you in this way






come here. I want to hold you


what, you can’t move either?


it hurts too much?


I know, I know


swordfighting was a bad idea

whose idea was it anyway?

mine? oh right. I forgot








I don’t know what just happened

I think I just blacked out a little


oh, you’re dead now?

ok, I’ll see you soon


And really, this is all you can ask of a poem. That it runs you off over the hills, into the trees and over the moor, towards some idea of a setting sun, or rising, whichever. If you’d like more, Bailey’s Tumblr is here.


1 Comment

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One response to “What a poem can do

  1. That really is a wonderful poem. It’s all fun and games until…

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