Thursday 5 November 2015

5 Poems by Gary Cummiskey

What’s on today’s menu?

A cold-storage plant filled with naked underwear
A pocketful of razors

A pecan-nut pie found on a sewage heap
A half-burned steak gone rotten with global atrocities

A fish stunned into silence

A DVD played backwards on the neck of an astrologer
A cherry farm riddled with last year’s crack cocaine
A loaf of bread rejected by a slaughtered seal
A scrambled egg fried on the remains of Lorca
A can of baked beans farting its way to the White House

A frigate of onions marked HIV-positive
A bowl of soup seasoned with sinister suspects
A lasagne sold out in the name of petty politics
A pizza topped with the succulent massacre of penguins

A half-burned steak gone rotten with global atrocities
A fish stunned into silence

(from Today is their Creator, Dye Hard Press, 2008)

Little Prajna

One day, little Prajna rolled her parents’ drum down the garden path. When the drum came to a stop, it changed into a pagoda. The fact that she was Indian and a pagoda was Japanese did not disturb Prajna; she was determined to make it her home.

When her parents came home that night, Prajna could not be found. The drum that they had forbidden her to roll had disappeared.

At the bottom of the garden was a pagoda.

(from Today is their Creator, Dye Hard Press, 2008)


He pushes the wheelbarrow
through the gardens, 7am.
he has to be rid of the
patients’ nightmares, that’s
what they pay him for
– so lay off, don’t bug him,
don’t run the poor man down.

(from Today is their Creator, Dye Hard Press, 2008)

The woman in the flat upstairs

The woman in the flat upstairs is in her bath.
She is wrestling with a crocodile.
She intended the crocodile to be her lover
But he has turned into her predator.
I can hear the bathwater running and her thrashing about
In the bath, it could be the heat of ecstasy with her lover the crocodile
But actually it is a fight for her life.
The thrashing of water and muscles becomes more audible
As I listen intently.
I do not bother to stir or raise the alarm.
I can hear her cry out like she is having an orgasm
But in fact the crocodile has grabbed her throat in his teeth
And is holding her underwater to drown her;
That’s what crocodiles do.
Once she is drowned and silent and motionless
He commences to eat her
But leaves half her body behind.

(from Bog Docks, Dye Hard Press, 2005)


I come home to find a few
strange turds
floating in the toilet.
Someone has broken into my house
to have a clandestine crap.

(from Sky Dreaming, Graffiti Kolkata, 2011)

In chains

I leap down from the building
into the fire.
The women stand
with their breasts in chains.
I can’t get to collect my curry supper.

The owl is going insane.
This is a night of anxiety.
I’m on a flying island.
I’m singing, singing, but nobody hears.
A glove is stuck in my throat.

(from Sky Dreaming, Graffiti Kolkata, 2011)


Gary Cummiskey is a South African poet and publisher living in Johannesburg. He is the editor of Dye Hard Press, which he started in 1994.

He is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including Romancing the Dead (Tearoom Books, Durban 2009), Sky Dreaming (Graffiti Kolkata, India 2011) and I Remain Indoors (Tearoom Books, Stockholm 2013).

In 2009, he published Who was Sinclair Beiles? a collection of writings about the South African Beat poet, co-edited with Eva Kowalska. An expanded and revised edition of the book was published in 2014.

Also in 2009, Cummiskey compiled Beauty Comes Grovelling Forward, a selection of South African poetry and prose published on the US literary website, Big Bridge.

His debut collection of short fiction, Off-ramp, was published in 2013.

He is currently editor of the South African literary journal New Coin.

No comments:

Post a Comment