Small World
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Small World

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by Richard Price (4)
     
 

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‘The Patient’ suffers a brain haemorrhage. Small World grows out of the days before and after. It has the authority of lived experience, beginning with what Price dubs ‘existential family poems’: honed, lyrical, they explore the dynamics of modern life. Price’s poems observe and reflect, revisiting and deepening the themes of his earlier

Overview

‘The Patient’ suffers a brain haemorrhage. Small World grows out of the days before and after. It has the authority of lived experience, beginning with what Price dubs ‘existential family poems’: honed, lyrical, they explore the dynamics of modern life. Price’s poems observe and reflect, revisiting and deepening the themes of his earlier books. These poems prepare us for the moment when the poet’s lover, ‘the Patient’, is afflicted. At times angry and despairing, the poems evoke hospital conditions and social attitudes to the ill, but the main focus is on the intricate reality of living day to day, trying to bring memory to bear on the future: Price’s produces a multi-layered collection that builds a rich portrait of love under almost intolerable pressure.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A great poet. [His work is] full of energy, both startling and moving.”  —Carol Ann Duffy, UK Poet Laureate

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781847776594
Publisher:
Carcanet Press, Limited
Publication date:
12/01/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
80
File size:
301 KB

Read an Excerpt

Small World


By Richard Price

Carcanet Press Ltd

Copyright © 2012 Richard Price
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84777-659-4



CHAPTER 1

SMALL WORLD


An old drawer up beyond the children


Little torn-offs, kept, gummed, and a bill window; large small change in matt grey and bronze. 'Are these your medals, Dad?'

A list of do-it-ourselves in feet and inches. Half-hollow plastic letters, red red, blue blue. They won't, can't, endure an open word. Grr – consonant consensus.

A single staple, not yet folded, in self-assembly dust.

Up beyond the children this old drawer, laden (can stick). Easy with it, extract and show.


    The Mutual Satellite Assurance Company Limited

    A double-planet system –
    the Earth and the Moon.

    Stability,
    maybe stability.

    And maybe the moon – you know –
    an equal – once.

    Sisters – (a little big-sister,
    a big little-sister) –

    rough couplets,
    two haloes of pressure,

    mutual, unequal –
    the solidarity of interference.

    (Their desire to hold.
    Their desire to hold back.)


    Cocktail hour

    Measure out, administer.

    Katie's half dribbling, half tiny-bubbling.
    She's laughing (gentle). She's not swallowing this, tells it
    in a viscous mumble, bright red –
    to Miss Piggy on her night-top.

    A lip froth of light pink. Epilim
    is the trademark; the mixer saliva.

    Cheers.

    Cheers.

    <

    Measure out, administer.

    A balancing spoonful – red's liquid thisness
    accepted but a no-swallow repeat. The jaws grip.

    A slow worrying; the spoon's dog-stickish.
    I'm pulling carefully this side, carefully that.
    Katie is teeth. (By the way,
    either animals are not animals or we are all animals.)
    Her head moves with me:
    she seems to know and she seems to No. Eye contact, smiling.
    Finally we are free. The spoon looks wiped clean (tight lipped Katie). No,

    no swallow. She's
    snorting an avoidance –
    turning, turning with a backward shove. The drug-thick syrup still
    not down. Now she's ... this way, facing close with a face-full. Her cheeks are puffed up,     pursing, pursing, (drama of the mime), twice tight-lipped. She pouts, full of it.
    She twitch-teases. She

    blurts.

    <

    We have both dyed. That's sis-gusting! ( – big little-sister Ellen, suddenly at my side).

    We're all a crimson speckling (our faces, my peevish glasses).
    We are red-spectrum endpapers, delicate, an art house horror clip.
    We are blood relations.

    Measure out.

    Administer.


    Book makers

    Tuning out and seeking scrap,
    any marker to don't-know down a page.

    Tuning out.
    We'll not be bullied by gangsters in Ellen's gel pen.
    We'll not be bullied by gangsters on a white sheet
    of printer fodder – surrender all news
    to glitter strawberry
    and the scent of glitter strawberry scent.

    A6ing the A4.

    I'm just full of the Cuban infant mortality rate.
    How come you don't like your own kids in America?

    Casting the first statistic,

        a little folded

    <

    /and over the fold
    seeking cutting adage
    no, simpler, an artist's book itinerary

    slow up

    (a keyboard waits six years
    for EDCD EEE- DDD- EEE-
    EDCD EEE- DDED C —-)

    wherever she would go
    wherever she would go

    <

    The house asleep I'm a Special Effect, a digital ghost,
    not quite random with the poked remote:
    boxed-in music and the truth channelled uncanny by current affairs.

    'Rhythm is a dancer' – Katie was a drummer.
    The djembe's decoration now
    and she's all eyes for the boy bands.
    There's Newsnight unanimity, Late Night Revue
    (poet-pundits, poet bio-pics, but no poetry),
    all a turnoff.

    For Ellen this evening there was ocarina emulation,
    harps and jazz guitar on the halfpint Yamaha.
    Mild interest.

    Some space here.

    <

    /over the fold
    (accident on the A6)
    it's all manuscripts and mass printlessness,
    text art objects, electric sacred-pretend

    no, cut that back, make the book

    over the fold
    for glass boxes, light welling out
    kids' glitter all over the audit trail

    <

    /

    look me squarely in the eye

    tell me you're not
    tell me you're not
    tell me you're not
    a constructivist

    <

    /

    stapler now, please, we're loose

    (a red one lords it in the stuck drawer
    of sticker books and weightless costume rings –
    'When I grow up I'm going to marry you, Dad.')

    <

    /

    blank inside cover

    <

    /

    We are book makers, bet on it.

    Ellen knows 'blurb':
    'This book has no front cover.
    I am on page 2
    with a picture of a dog and Katie.
    I am not allowed a dog.
    Dad is not being sensible.
    I can read music.'


    Fold-up

    Donny, remember that remainder shop in Soho –
    you'd just bought me Damned to Fame: The Life
    of Samuel Beckett

    and I said not two weeks previous
    I'd been propositioned
    by a woman a few minutes off duty,
    for a laugh I guess,
    right in front of the Taschen Klimt?

    Ian Brown, ex Stone Roses,
    rides a fold-up bicycle backwards
    right by it in the video
    for the single 'Fear'.
    It's an acrostic song –
    For Everyone a Road, and so on,
    not bad going for pop culture,
    though it's not always
    one word per line (reminds me
    of Roy Fisher's abc
    in one of Ron King's exquisite pop-ups,
    and how 'Auld Lang Syne'
    was once the tune
    all America learned the alphabet to,
    not that that's a nationalist statement,
    and then there's Ellen, counting –
    how sixes and sevens
    are elided if she's not thinking –
    it's the sibilant –
    'She is only two years old!' –
    so she'll go four, five, six, eight,
    almost the kind of counting
    Tom Robinson sang
    just as he was coming out,
    a long time before
    'presenter material',
    and Katie's teacher is saying
    she thinks yes maybe Katie
    can recognise one to three
    (it's eye-pointing, mainly),
    and we'll have to watch

    the imbalance
    between sides of the rib-cage,
    first signs of scoliosis already there,
    quite possibly, 'classic symptoms',
    but Jackie's already
    got the facts, met other parents).

    When Ian Brown pedals
    backwards for miles –
    it must be Berwick Street and environs –
    all the pedestrians
    are in reverse, too,
    blurred –

    if I can get our recorder to work
    I'll tape it and see how it looks
    as you rewind it. Of course,
    you'll not get the music –
    you'll just have to remember
    all the instrumentation.

    Not your kind of song anyway.

    Meet you there on Wednesday morning? Say eleven?


    A rising field

    You follow dogs –
    you want to command them in telepathic Canine
    but spoken Human is the training language – 'Good girl!', 'No-oh!', 'Sit!'

    You follow dogs –
    sheepdogs, grudgedogs (misunderstood), half-sisters of wolves.
    All breeds accepted, no dog too small.

    You follow dogs –
    sometimes they follow you (friends' dogs, family dogs) –
    and now they're pencilled animals, hurtling,
    felt-tip assisted, an acceleration of pastels and paint –
    you're leading the pack way up the rising field.

    You always let me lose


    Little toes

    Little toes – too much weight.
    A five-year-old's feet
    ten years younger / a century older
    than the waist-up wrestler,
    the armchair dancer
    little feet won't support.

    All aboard the wheelchair! The whirled chair!
    All aboard the world chair! Small world. Small world.


    Little toes – almost the right shape –
    driftwood / abstract-petite.
    'A real work of art' – little big-sister –
    my hair-pulling grabster,
    my sandwich snatcher,
    my thief of too good report.

    All aboard the wheelchair! The whirled chair!
    All aboard the world chair! Small world. Small world.

    All aboard the wheelchair! The whirled chair!
    All aboard the world chair! Small world. Small world.



    Compartment

    When the girls all shook a coke to pass around
    I saw my daughter find a lifelong friend
    for half an hour – all, surely, Katie's age.

    Hopeful look, touch of hand; rare common ground.
    'It's your turn – twist the lid, or just pretend!'
    (The pangs of ifs no smile can quite assuage.)

    Katie took the tensioned bomb. She held
    then gripped – began to crush the fizzing flask
    as if destruction were the game,
    as if all belong
        through glee, through wrong,
        indulgent blame.

    The girls all cooed a rising No-oh-oh!, repelled
    cartoonishly en masse: Katie should bask
    in this generosity, become, in their gangish pantomime,
        their celebrity, their beloved dame.

    The bottle burst just before they left.
      It speckled brownish paste on every blouse,
        a school crime, I guess. They laughed, all the same.


    At the Modern

    Ramp-joy –
    Katie is an art lover, turbos down
    the turbine free Turbine Hall, achieves
    avant-garde speed.

    The chair is back to metal,
    sculptural, velocity-in-mass,
    a just-controlled hurtle
    hardly in my hands.

    <

    In the well-labelled lobby
    we are clutter.

    The able-bodied demand
    Rothko, step-free and fast.

    They slip round and in,
    fill each low-hum lift, tight-lipped.

    They are refined, self-sublime.
    They stand their ground.

    <

    Sir Nicholas Serota lacks so much space
    in his scant power station.

    <

    Are we a filmed installation? I
    can't quite see.

    'Please
    keep the Modern
    free.'


    Mermaid in a wheelchair

    Mermaid in a wheelchair,
    teenage refugee.

    A guest from Atlantis –
    a princess, an apprentice –
    an island far from me.


    Fifty per cent is by continuous assessment

    I will be, I will be, I will be
    the World's Best Dad.

    I said a hundred.
    And I want to see your working.



    Ninety per cent is by continuous assesment

    I will be, I will be, I will be
    the World's Best Mum.

    I said five hundred,
    and I want to see all your working.

    Can you tidy up afterwards, love, thanks?
    Oh I like what you've tried to do with your hair.



    Missing person

    I dreamed you played the piano
    just like you'd sing 'We're home!'
    (The kids steer past you –
    polyphony, strophe.)

    That was alone, in this future,
    advertised – not just a gesture
    (a touch, the gesture,
    eyes meet, the gesture) –

    advertised –

    What was the dream
    going to say?

    The dream can't remember

    but 'all', 'chance',
    and 'many a December'
    play, perfect,
    from your calloused fingers.

    I took no lessons.

    I teach the fugue.


    Namesake

    I always wanted.
    At the age of sixteen I was born,
    talented, dynamic, a glamour.

    A tough industry to circuit –
    few stand.

    I'm frank, direct, bold.
    (Concern me:
    no-nonsense has earned.)

    Me, the thinking-man's realistic!
    Icon and a family,
    I suppose.

    My future looks looking forward,
    sharing my challenging,
    my you.

        Katrina Amy Alexandria Alexis Infield Price, b. 1978, 'Jordan', England


    Namesake

    Was artists, actors, dancers,
    one of the most.

    Timid eyes, expressive darling.
    Often received advice.

    Royal, legendary, solodanserinde.
    Also: the little mermaid.

    Heart ballet and acting,
    1968.

        Ellen Price, 1878– 1968, ballerina, Denmark


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Small World by Richard Price. Copyright © 2012 Richard Price. Excerpted by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A great poet. [His work is] full of energy, both startling and moving.”  —Carol Ann Duffy, UK Poet Laureate

Meet the Author

Richard Price is the head of research strategy at the British Library and the editor of Painted magazine. He is the author of three books of poetry: Greenfields, Lucky Day, and Rays.

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Small World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EVERYONE CALM THE FUQ DOWN.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FINE! I dont need you...imma turn into a lesbi n fuq girls better than you can do -,-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am sorry.Sheesh?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calm down im a different skylar gosh i waz just fining someone to date
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eh