R J Dent
We currently have nine poems by R J Dent. You can listen to them all one after the other using the playlist below or if you prefer you can click the links further down to read a specific poem whilst listening to it.
Read and listen to A Little Death in Venice
A little death in Venice always means
an age of strangeness, angularity –
cafes, bell towers, hotel foyers, streets
and bridges. A spindly tree is a ghost
whose twig fingers haunt my bedroom window.
Visconti’s Venice narrows like most minds:
A naked blind girl predicts a future;
Another father subjugates a boy
who’s far too sensitive for his own good;
A group of children dance in turquoise waves
as warm rain rains down upon golden skin;
A man wanders through narrow streets and lanes;
A tangible decadence permeates
the heavy air, the stillness of the now;
a naked couple make love in the sun.
Read and listen to Baudelaire's Funeral
The world would not have mourned him had it known;
a select elect who felt the loss were there,
while those trapped in their own time stayed away.
As the black coffin was slowly lowered,
the summer rain fell heavily – all dashed
for shelter beneath the graveyard’s yew trees.
Despite the wrong season, it could have been
a frozen moment from one of his poems.
Around the world, all life moved forward. His
death would mean less than his life; this in turn
would only be of value for his verse.
In a small orange grove five black horses
lazily cropped the grass and swished their tails,
as over the emerald water of a pond,
two prism-winged dragonflies met and kissed.
Read and listen to Earthed
The former astronaut centres himself
in the airforce base bar on the outskirts
of the Mojave desert. He needs to
surround himself with chrome and glass objets
and has a penchant for new office blocks.
There are silver flecks in his irises
and no matter how much he looks away,
his drink stays upside down in its tall glass;
he drinks to conquer gravity, regrets
the genocide of the Venusian race
who helped him find his ship when he was lost.
He’ll never tell a soul – they’d think him mad,
but he holds silver women every night
in his arms as he dreams fitfully, pulled
from his light sleep by bleeping satellites.
Read and listen to Easter Island
When the couple came ashore the sky was violet.
They floated in on a warm tide encased in gold,
clapped their hands together to change the sky’s colour
and touched lip to lip, inhaling each other’s life.
They carved their faces deep in stone so many times
that each cut took them closer to infinity;
when they walked into the sea no blind eye saw them,
but they had sight of all they’d been before, or known,
or felt within a multitude of lifetimes. Sensing
the faces concealed a thousand wondrous stories,
they waited for the future’s children to appear.
Read and listen to Faun's Head
Among the leaves – greenery flecked with gold,
quivering leaves on fire with vibrant flowers,
a sudden kiss within the tangled bower,
and the exotic tapestry explodes.
A startled faun’s eyes peer out between leaves;
he bites the scarlet flowers with white teeth,
abruptly staining them with wine-red juice.
Laughing, he opens his mouth for a leaf…
Then squirrel-like he turns and disappears,
his laughter lingering in every tree;
a few bullfinches flutter nervously,
and then the golden wood returns to peace.
Read and listen to Genet's Pen
The worlds you create implode when
you’re free to wander through the streets…
inside a cell you find your voice
for it’s an endless universe
and you have pushed its wall apart
threading the bars with red roses
transforming men with cold, hard eyes
into gentle and loving souls
infused with femininity
with tattered animas restored…
Dipping a strand of rusty barbed
wire into a pot of red ink
you write your missives to yourself
explaining how you are contained
within your imagination
and have become a theatre…
a lily grows out of your pen
and you bite its orange stamen…
Read and listen to Leopard
The woman I found
out there in the desert
changed into a white leopard
and stalked me day and night
eyes burning, mouth salivating.
I hoped she was a mirage –
I drank water to make her go away
and still she pursued.
One night I awoke
to find her crouched
on my chest
her breath gusting my hair.
She smelled of time.
Her claws split me open
and she dived inside.
The wound healed.
Some days I feel her move.
She has grace.
Sometimes she takes control
of my consciousness
and makes me write.
She makes me write terrible things.
I burn all I write.
I have to.
It scares me.
Read and listen to Post Mortem
The silver of her olive tree
had spun a web around her heart
and the blue of cicada’s wings
had traced vein maps beneath her skin
and the pink of the figs she ate
had stained her lips a coral shade
The turquoise of the Aegean
had poured into her irises
and the yellow of retsina
had tinted her hair a fine gold
and the white of her courtyard walls
had lightened her palms and her soles
The brown of the surrounding hills
had deeply tanned her scented skin
and the juice of fat purple grapes
had painted and polished her nails
– the silver of her olive tree
had spun a web around her heart
Read and listen to Translating Baudelaire
It is an abandoned city by the sea;
the wide streets are deserted and empty,
the houses hold nothing but silences,
and the pale sun-lit autumn air resounds
with echoes of a strident, vibrant past.
As I walk between ornamental parks
and vast buildings, seeing their perfection,
smelling the sea scents and the rich perfumes,
hearing the faint echoes of then, combined
with the wave rush and shingle drag of now,
I know you are reclining in a fine-
ly furnished room, immaculately dressed
and feeding a cat in between each line.
R J Dent
is an English poet and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His debut poetry collection is Moonstone Silhouettes.
His first novel, Myth, is a dark fantasy/horror story set on a Greek island. He has written novellas, short stories and has published essays on a variety of subjects.
He is currently working on his second poetry collection and is also writing a novel set during the American Civil War.
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