Dominic Fisher’s debut collection from The Blue Nib:
The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead
Blue Nib Publishing
Dominic Fisher is from the Bristol/Bath area in the south west of England. He studied Art and English at UCW Aberystwyth in Wales where he also trained as a teacher, living for a time on the Dyfi estuary in a green railway carriage. He then went to Turkey to teach English language. From there he went to Spain to teach and met a New Zealander whom he married in Gibraltar. Returning to Bristol, he published poems ocasionally, but work and family life took precedence. Recently he has devoted himself to poetry more full-time and he has been published in a wide range of magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Magma, Brittle Star, Raceme, South Bank Poetry, The Interpreter’s House, and Under the Radar. A poem of his has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He is the winner of the international Bristol Poetry Prize 2018, and The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead is his first collection. On his allotment there are foxes, and sometimes goldfinches and a sparrow hawk.
We are delighted to introduce you to Dominic Fisher’s work. Dominic says that
“this collection of poems explores ways the living and the dead meet – for lunch , in an artwork, on an allotment plot, in the city. We meet poets, artists and others engaged in the struggles and contradictions of their own times, and encounter challenges from our own.”
Water Paper Gold
Keep them from us
with fences of water
colder than they know
Keep them from us
with bricks of gold
with visible fences
and walls of glass
Look how our horizon encircles
no deserts no blinded cities
Look how the sky is divided
into our sky and their sky
We are here
where our forbears fought for these
roundabouts and central reservations
these slip-roads these signs these limits
Where we are
we speak no ifs or buts
our own straightforward language
Where they are
is the Tower of Babel
an encampment of rubbish
one pair of jeans and no signal
Some say we should open something some part
that is itself a fence or wall with locks and gates
They say each of us is adrift in a shaky boat
migrating across equal seas the same terrains
our long lineage and its claims
its treaties maps and standards
Keep us in
with fences of privilege with preference
with ancestral divisions
Keep us in
with memories and forgetting
and our well-fed fears
Withhold from them
that little we have
with locks of water paper gold
with walls they see and we will not
The Wardrobe Mirror
Some days you wear the season’s weather
its cloud formations, its cloths of rain
you put on the upper atmosphere
it’s goose striations, textures of wren.
Sometimes I watch you become the sea.
Opening the door of the wardrobe
you pull out curled weeds pools blue-greens
you hang the foreshore from your earlobes.
There are evenings when you take your time
fix a column of jet to each ear
and Venus low in the south west shines
out of the folds of your hems of air.
Sometimes you are clothed in a field.
I lie there too, awake in the dark
counting the flowers or looking for keys
while you sleep in the intertwined plants.
Someday, dressed in wood, we’ll come undone
be loosened in sub-soil or fire
then put all the seasons’ colours on
all the oceans, as we did before.
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, for CRL
This is a suburb, leafy, quiet, and if not
for the communards and déportés, it is well-to-do.
Bonjour, and how are you today Madame?
Thank you Monsieur, still dead, and yourself?
Still dead too Madame, tired of listening to insects.
Quite so, and rain trickling in at one’s ears.
The sound of trees drinking what is left of us.
Drinking and drinking, taller and taller.
They fade away together on the Avenue Principal
among sepulchres like narrow houses.
The grilles for front doors incorporate
crosses, roses, here and there a star.
Blackbirds blacker than marble monuments
eat the richest worms in Paris, sing
in green and yellow chestnut leaves
above Famille Forel, Famille Defourmental-Latierre
above Marie Elise Toussaint de Quiévrecourt
Famille Blanc, Famille Espace, Famille Éclipsé.
Madame, I regret I do not recall who you might be.
Nor I, nor why roots have tied us up together here.
Nightfall now. Sabotine, Boucher, Charpentier, Pecheur
and comrades are cuffed and cussed and dragged along.
No blackbirds sing tonight, Messieurs, and we suppose
the ironies are not lost on you
of your summary execution against the wall
of this furthest corner of a cemetary
where a Himalayan tree holds cones of flowers
in darkness in its many hundred hands
where a weight of letters was later lifted up
Dachau Auschwitz Bergen-Belsen Buchenwald
Could you eat a roasted blackbird, or just its tongue?
No my dear, no thank you, not just now.
A little wine though might be good, red wine like blood.
Yes, I remember. Something to enrich the rain.
So whose are those stone children, ours perhaps?
And what is this whispering of names, addresses?
It is a dissolution of what we were
the words we are, what we do not know.
It is our slowly turning into trees.
Bee In A Poppy
Bee near drowning
in more colour than we see.
Working the crown in your trance
you drench yourself in gold.
Desire is between two poles,
the flower and the hive
but you must also dance
so the tribe can find the flower.
If there is no dancing
we will not survive.
i.m. David Bowie *
The first day one summer
a soot crystal
dark snowflake or flower
is falling through white space.
It goes below the lines
through the gateway of itself
into border zones
of other information,
drifts down from visible
where creatures light themselves,
settles on the sea bed.
*I’m not a white star
I’m a black star
It is night at altitude
we are stone blind
among blizzards of asterisks.
Losing ourselves on the page
we become dark flowers
in white space.
It is the first day one summer.