Robert Sheppard lives in Liverpool, England, where he works as a Senior
Lecturer in Writing at Edge Hill College of Higher Education. His most recent
poetry books are The Lores (Reality Street, 2003,
and Tin Pan Arcadia (Salt, 2004,, both parts of a
long project called Twentieth Century Blues. Short essays are published as
Far Language: poetics and linguistically innovative poetry 1978-1997 (Stride,
1999, Check out his full profile of Sheppard at He is the editor of Pages that
he recently revived as a blogzine, at

Rattling the Bones
for Adrian Clarke


The rest is history. Filling. The holes. The El Grechko Fresco in Wenceslas Square

Hang gliding into the Palace of Wisdom pussyfooting around the footmen transvestite torturers carnival butchers

: hands of Czech students grasping darkness of alcove fresh flowers wreathed through twisted fingers


Take a machine gun to write. Britannia on square wheels clunking iambics. The sculpted purity of a well-wrought fake you could pass water through

Genuine. Aslant. Blood rags on the library steps. During the stifled cough
What is recordable of paying attention I just don't buy
That exchanged in a free market of speech it's
Cheap talk at the national
rate the word crusade


Each thonged delight receives its vote. They rub their own wounds with sacramental dust. They fill a vacant chair with a kiss-sculpted vapour of waste. Either way you're thrashed down in the bargain basement. Sings a cracked sphere within the cosmology of its own ringing endorsement


Flinty resistance of your floating. Voice thrown into becoming. 'Yours'

In which case what is the point. Are 'we'. Sleepless next. To the torture room in the mirror. Watch the reverse image moves backwards across the pain

Of neighbours one hundred and forty eight million of whom died when the narratives were merely grand. What can compete with this. When there's sugar on each table

The Peasant (shoulders the dream but that dream isn't hers under
Sentence of dearth
the phrase
)'s Revolt

Committing these acts of writing


The cracked arteries of those metaphors we travel by an abandoned filling station whose forecourt is spattered with blood

and as soon disappears a vapour I can neither hold nor contain a reflection of a woollen sky in a rainbow puddle

at the city limits of Velopolis there are no limits) the horizon disappears) you are examined by the evidence and left an 'open' verdict


The history of the body as a disembodied theoretic. The body of history. With extra mouths for extraneous stories. Extra months. Incorporated. U-topian calendars

or fresh orifices. Torn in the flanks of the dying animal. Doubling as sexual mouths that sigh another man's trick. To trick words out. As we re-articulate our limbs. Do we not shred the fat from our tongues. If I track everything back. To more deaths than my own. The micro-gulag of gristle. Isolated by gargantuan rivers of sweat

If man (ever) dwelt poetically

the blood song pumping
'With the broken lyre between his hands,' sings
Every poet since
sense-buds burst on the membrane. That separates. Unheimlich Volk. That substitutes. A path across the flesh hills. An exposure to the other. It is signification watch the flowing. A substitution is separation. That is responsibility. Lashed to the eye let joy flood. Proximity. Which invulnerability. Pulses for a final drift. Of delight licking each other's tongues. After their longings. Journeys elsewhither home


By September 12th the Inside is on your face. Carnival excavations. Now. That utopianism is their way of lifting the shattered visage. Material breaches represent (how) the West that made representation present. A present which cannot be refused. Indelible delivery

Saying. The looseleaf epic is bound. To be netted. The realist's morning prayer we interrupt
This broadcast which is a broadcast of
Interruptions. To bring you
more complex nervous systems
that can never be reduced. To the plot. A fatal breath in the sentence of the condemned. To refuse. If not. To refute


in a mean time bodies as things you pull out of rubble

In its self for its self. The body itself. As itself. In itself on itself. Out of itself. Ecstatic reunion with its self

is is the si- 'to create
new connections
ngularity as touch new linkages
or vital
of fur prickling transmitters in static
the brain


(skeletal sonnet for adrian Clarke





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