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Sunday Times Books LIVE

John Eppel

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Three New Poems

Brown-Hooded Kingfisher

Your hyperbolic beak has mesmerised

you – you glaze past poems, past the abyss

of waters.  You have been immobilized

by instinct, by a chronic state of bliss.


You once fished in waters above the sky,

in the firmament of death and desire.

There is a witness, who can testify,

a priest; he observed you catching  fire


like a church window at sunrise -  Della

Robbia blue; Blessed Virgin Mary,

Mother of God, of the Word, of Stella

and her baby boy – right now, unwary


of my savage cat.  Impossible beak,

orange legs, reddish feet glued to a tree;

Dickensian eyebrows, unnerving shriek

shadowed by a gentling, ‘pity for me’.



You’ve been called a meat pie with a hard crust;

you learnt that life was not always unfair

when, against all odds, you vanquished the hare;

but you must endeavour to curb your lust.


Your shell’s bestowed its name on feline dames;

your age, well that is anybody’s guess:

much older than the pyramids but less

durable than plectrums, spectacle frames,


and old ladies’ combs.


An appetizer

for neo-colonialists, they plunge

you, live, into boiling water, expunge

your role as bearer of the earth, as the


symbol of involution, a return

to immateriality, music

of the spheres resonating, buzzing, click-

click clicking… not a word … helped Kurma churn


the Sea of Milk, helped Kung Kung deposit

the celestial pillar, helped secure

the isles of the immortals, helped ensure,

‘with odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ’,


That those who commemorate sight and sound,

poets, composers, and picture-makers,

will complete the work of undertakers,

and begin the work of he, ’who with his finger wrote on the ground’.


Bronze Mannikins

I feel my atoms expanding,

not like bubble wrap

or dumplings

or inner tubes,

but like tiny birds,

tiny twittering birds

with purplish heads,

iridescent green

shoulder patches,

and long black tails.

There’s a fluttering in my heart.


I feel my atoms contracting,

not like wet shirt sleeves

or English sausages

or popped balloons,

but like tiny birds,

tiny twittering birds

dropping like leaves,

cuddling up close,

squeezing into communal nests,

smothering the bird table.

There’s a quivering in my heart.







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