There, There Daniel Payne

Vol XXIII: There There

Daniel was about to do a PhD on Ezra Pound but got shafted by the AHRC and is now sitting around waiting for something else to happen whilst remaining bitter. His poems have been published in Pomegranate, Aesthetica, Snakeskin, Helicon, Angelic Dynamo and a few others. He went to the Tower Poetry summer school at Christ Church which he liked and misses.



Come. Let me take your pain
though both our backs are bent.
Come. Tsavoot danem.

Listen to this mango root, masha’allah.
Can you hear the crab’s cough?
Just, try. Sit. Tsavoot danem.

You must be tired. Are you tired?
There is always Columbia; drink                        (no I have never gone what was it like?)
tinto, some old cheese. Flick

through The Travel Book. Bright
pictures, names. A few words.
Dep qua, phai khong. There

There. How’s thoughts? Tudo bom?
Bwa. Your feet will not stop dancing,
ko rabwa n rokom. Rest.

Stop busying yourself. No, really,
tidak apa-apa, I am used to this.
It is not a problem. I know

your pain is separate. That
you need to earn it
in another way.

I understand. Ayubowan. But,
what am I thinking? Sugoi!
You must be sick of travel.

You are too wonderful for this,
for me to keep you here.
Denkenesh, denkenesh

this damn place dust weighing
down our eyelids. Sawubona.
There is this window for you;

chunks of tree making little
pacmans of the sun. Kia orana,
tsavoot danem though my back

is bent. Please hold my hand
before you leave, cat a ketch rat,
but he a teef he massa fish

from the front of the skull.
The air is dryer than my insides.
You look just like me almost.

You do not quite meet around me
with your arms. I am upset with you
for this. Fat ducks in this garden

are gathering in a – is that a pattern?
It’s a kind of circle if you round off
the edges and ignore that slightly

blue one that won’t stop quacking
this will be our last memory. I feel
like you are ready to be leaving me.

You are stepping up, cracking
off your crust. Please. I am, I am.
Sugoi! I am not ready for you to go

just yet. Ibakkwon!  There are still whale
steaks from Greenland to see,
countries of honest men, their

tall antelope masks, pictures
of old blossom. Didi madloba.
You are wonderful güzelim.

Come. Tsavoot danem. Ba nebé?
Do not leave me. No-mosh-kar!
Salama! Shalom! Jambo! Bom-

dee-ah! Saa-haay-ya! Masha’allah
and my hands are cold, my head
is thick there are unknown processes

behind this please come down
from the windowsill. It. Is cold out.
The Saharan wind is picking up.

Do not fly into it and leave this place yet.
I am. Afraid. My travel book
has a section on far-off places

that I would like us to read together.
Asalam aleykum. I am afraid for us.
May I ask about death?




It was wet at the top
of the roof of the house
and a wind stirred up
the garden and pelted
potted camomile
at the tiles.

A textbook in hand, so damp
from the weather, that the word telescopic
tattooed itself onto her skin.

She tight-toped along
the ridge of the roof
and the tip of her high-heeled
shoe nudged a star
into dark.

I grabbed her hand,
pointed to the sky
with a moon so big
her fingers came back
dusty. I think the sky
began to wobble.

Then a black cloud dropped down
and her body went fuzzy.




I see hornswoggling & swikedom
the nifle flemensfirth of the thieving
humblebee, like a yellow kinker
carking about caroming with a carnaptious
tettix, giving gledges from the grass.
Bees knew the world was round
millions of years before man. Old
beekeepers seldom suffer from bones
but the bombus bee gets European
Foul Brood & a colony collapse disorder,
both at once. Bride has a warm buzza
of honey-mead on her wedding night
with high hopes for a boy; these departed
bees leave mess of spit & sugar before
embarking on the schaftberg experiment
at unknown angles, gathering babies to make
behood. But he be bellicose to women
that have been with men, wants niether honey
nor honey bee, but words. Betwixt a drone,
the perfect female surveys her beedom
rising up like lactic bacteria of bee-
wine for a wild sunset of sex in a swarm.
Strained motor of the small beast who
does not beat her wings - I hear the piping
of ducks, my smokey hands sticky with
bee-bread & lidlets.
Rehov holds the oldest bee-yard, an apiary
of clay in Egypt taxes paid with bee fruit.
I have no fear for the crab spider, but
assassin bugs crouch down in crocus
to catch a thirsty worker bee; even Napoleon's
symbolism cannot save from the hornet
& dog. A cinnamon-chested merops sits
on King Tut's tomb dreaming of Asia
& dorsata's dribble. Milk shook to cheese,
wrapped in beeswax lubes the bullet &
cap, the glazing agent of polish & candle
Rex & dux for the lady-king, poor France,
she who, with meligerus siren song
stung it from summerdam.


By winter, hive's shell left for the bee-ball,
shivery as penguins, heads vibrating bee zeds
of the buzz gets lost to earthquake of haystacks,
the tensing of udders, waves of weeds. True that
stiff winter's cold / congeals the honey,
but buzz-death gives boring pastoral; absent
trilling worse than crispy comb on crumpets.
As a bead down a polished gyre, I beek once more
toward the skin-wings of rough beasts & mad hiss,
not this stripy sphere chilled to still by the no sun,
shaking like earth under Atlas-itch; the visual
buzz is not enough. I have Austrian mountain
to navigate with no angles to quell it;
artificial nectar in place of a summer.
& so I take to broken radios, the slapping
of masts with lights on the blink, electric
hums of zapped mosquitoes, grumbling
radiators, waggle dancing to the drones
of cut kettle cords, & then, hopefully,
                        finally, the arching
of feet comes, arms swinging to scoops,
a squint gives ships that drop from a bay.
& the spiral's speed picks up, brights
up against a widening bend in the path
to relearn the curvature of the earth.




Through the window through the crack in the door
through my eye, under the harvest moon, I saw
            Johnny get buried alive.

It must be nice to be warm in this storm, wrapped
up tight from the hurricane. At midnight Johnny
            gave up the fight, seeped into the earth.

Mother was sad when I told her. In the field,
four suited men had to hold her when she saw Johnny dead.
            He’ll be back, she said.

I crept out at night when mum’s light was switched off
and slipped a clipping from a Famous Five novel
            beneath my door to stop it from closing.

I hugged the ground and asked it if it wouldn’t mind spitting
Johnny out again, and told them what mother had said –
            That Johnny would be back.

I promise what happened next was a green shoot that shot up
like the earth was fed up of it, grew three leaves either side,
            and a round sack of straw on top.

At first I thought the grim scarecrow I had built had followed me
up hear from the compost bin where I had abandoned it,
but then the straw collapsed into flesh,
gave way to form two small pits of eyes. A split at the top
of a sort-of-chin gaped like the wound of a mouth, and a small
            hump in the middle of his face, pierced itself twice,

became a nose. The shoot shook its straw hair, the sun
soared up from its winter and warmed the crops corn ears, and by dawn,
            I knew it was my brother John Barleycorn.




Eastern Europeans glug 90’s sitcoms
and a cheap glass of wine as we watch
old haircuts on the television screen in front.

The sea knows it’s carrying these people.
Through the window, I see a wave make
the shape of continental porn. There’s jam

on the window and a blonde assistant
is wielding a croissant at my strange head.
No thanks, I said.

You sat next to me, a stranger. Something
in the off-beat party rhythm of this boat
makes you flop your tiny Estonian

head on my shoulder when we’re halfway
across this strait. Suddenly, I’m no longer
a foreign passenger on some choppy sea.

We’re not tired strangers but a couple
in love. We tiptoed from Tallin
on a perfect summer’s day, not winter.

You dreamt whilst you slept, about the time
we went to the supermarket and my trousers
fell down in the fruit and veg section

because our beautiful son had stolen
the elastic and made a hat. How I had
shouted, how he had apologised

with the gift of his labours. The boat
starts to vibrate.

Just as my head gets so far in the clouds
that a Boeing 747 chartered to arrive
in Singapore six hours later cleanly

beheads me, the worst kind of horn sounds.
You wake up and realise, apologise to me
like we’ve never met, wander around

Helsinki with someone else, looking for sofas.




Belanus, the skyward one, radiant & giver of eyes,
dark murdered through dawn, shining down to Hadrian’s
wall until dinner, then feasting happening under black
Toranos, thunberbolt in one hand, smashing the moon
with a wheel in the other, grinding clouds, screaming
the mound down to make drenched a tall red one
a little redder, with the sky dropping on his head, walked
up to a Gaulish stranger who had been friendly, stabbed him,
near the diaphragm, cross over his breast, (the tin plate
breasts laid aside for sitting), & it was done and slain.
A philosopher, etching little men in the mossy slabs
knelt up slowly & made judgements from the manner
the dead man fell. “By Belatugaus”, (for he was low)
“& Cocidius – Hear me! Speak through it! Say it!
For this happening has ways of telling. I see a torrent
of floods from the flux of his blood, Toranos raging
for five days more, the way that stomach slipped
out says our grain will be good, but the collapse of legs
to the left then folding under the buttocks speaks
of the nearer children who to Toutatis will be tipped
headfirst in a bucket of their brother’s blood, one head
in each of three, for sacrificing, dead before Belanus
gets up again”, & sweating more than most of them
sweated, broke down to heavy sleep. By the way
the wise man dropped, the men kept quiet, & scratching
the blood from their heavy moustaches drooping their shoulders,
left to bury the body with letters written to friends,
burned them, got ready for sex with each other. The women
rose up from stirring honeycombs in water, ate the one
asleep for what he said, his bloody head flew up from their hands
pelting their arctic sisters (a warm one watching, inventing
tides), the feasting done, the skins washed, the hair
a little redder, returned to their Xythus making,
questioning Diodorus.




When Ethel’s face dropped in her cake
she let out a squelch then died forever.
A mask was fashioned from pouring hot

wax into the impressions she left
on her birthday cake then

all the birthday cake. Then this was
grafted onto a clay-bust memory
of her shoulders which had gone

before the artist had a chance (the rest
was generic limb-stuff
that could have been

anyone). He sold it for silver
to doctors to practise cardio pulmonary resuscitation
but old lips made them sick

so it was rejected and the head left on a shelf
in the care home broom cupboard,
facing the door. Full up                                               

on cake, he went to Paris and took up
drowning teenage girls. The staff
agreed the bust was disgusting -

five scorch marks circled the nose,
her hairy chin cast as the odd
waxed worm and the whole thing

smelt slightly of sideways almonds
but worst of all the manager
liked to fuck Jack discretely

in the top floor broom cupboard
and when Edith hit the marzipan
she left a grin.




I bumble along in the car each night
mistaking each lamppost for dawn,

whilst pet rabbits leg it from
headlights to hatches,

rest up their bunny boots
at the bottom of straw beds,

slither out of their fur coats (hanging
it on a hook), and go to sleep

as worms. Sometimes I drive
on the wrong side of the road

just to crunch a plastic bag,
which, when I’m gone, and

when she’s gone, blows itself
back to this same spot, ready

for me to crunch it once more
knowing we’ll come back

to this same place again.




A History of Beekeeping - Essex Literary Review.
Horoscope - Jitterwhirring (Christ Church, Oxford 2007).
L'Inconnue de la Seine - Pomegranate Poetry.