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there’s no such thing, Lily Blacksell

Ignition Press, 2018  £5.00

Packing chaos 

These poems are filled with details strung together in strange, trippy threads. The first two end in the middle of sentences. The second of these, ‘The Ballad of Standing a Chance’, runs to eleven almost-punctuation-free quatrains before ending: ‘at dawn I found my heart had gone and broken leaving the gate open / which is why my pulse was slamming which is why it would not shut’

I like the poem ‘We are to blame for the decline of giraffes and only we can save them’, which manages to twine the sometimes manic impetuosity characteristic of our globally-connected times with the sadness loaded behind attempting (and failing) to construct satisfying relationships. Overall, the poem gives me a sense of time draining, and emotional impotence. I especially like its end:

You should turn on your heel
and go to your brother’s. You’ve missed your brother so much.

If he asks any questions, tell him you wanted
different things (you can say that again)

with regard to the giraffes and without,
but he won’t ask any questions, you know.

‘Meanwhile back at the ranch’ offers a surreal spin centred, I think, around a ferry journey and ambivalent pregnancy: ‘... they say don’t they / that you should keep your eyes on the horizon / something about the steady line that you look for / after a minute has come and gone…’ And its facing poem, ‘Sparrow’s Kneecaps’ goes even further into this odd, sad, deadpan mode of expression, where ‘we drilled / a hole into my mother’s head’:

George fetched the Bosch, meanwhile
I drew the curtains and held
her hand, said oh don’t be daft

we’ll buy you more hats…

These poems pack chaos into clever, surreal, contemporary packets, drawing strange yet familiar scenes from the vulnerability, it seems to me, of transitioning from child to adulthood.

Charlotte Gann