Samuel Tongue

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the poet

Samuel Tongue is a widely-published poet with a debut collection, Sacrifice Zones (Red Squirrel 2020) and two pamphlet collections: Stitch(Tapsalteerie, 2018) and Hauling-Out (Eyewear, 2016). Recent work has appeared in Finished Creatures, Butcher’s Dog, The Scores, andOne Hand Clapping, and a selection of poems is to be published in Ukrainian translation by KROK in 2021. Samuel won a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust and is former poetry editor at The Glasgow Review of Books.

the poems

Emergent Properties

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a church is enveloped by a forest and the forest

is the creator and redeemer of the church. the hermits

who can disappear into the trees, are trees. every time

a tree moves it is a brustling prayer.

susurration as supplication. the habit of the tree is its dwelling in the world. yes,

Heidegger was wrong. no, the stone is not worldless;

no, the animal is not poor-in-the-world; no, man is not

only world-forming. the stone can be ground and

underground – a negative capability – and the animals are adept at dwelling.

neahgebur - they who dwell nearby. try not to think that clearing

the forest is a clearing for thought. leave it dark for all the neighbours

who are essential. My life and death are in my neighbour and

a church is enveloped by a city and the city

is the creator and redeemer of the church. the anchorites

who can disappear into their cells, are cells. every time

the bus doors hiss open, it is a shushed prayer.

pneumatic pneuma. the habit of a tower-block is its dwelling in the world. yes,

Le Corbusier was wrong. no, the house is not a machine for living in;

no, the streets do not belong to the automobile; no, ornamentation

is not a religion of beautiful materials. the tower-block can be forest and

bewilderment – a negative capability – and the streets can be recovered.

différance – that iterative, unrepeatable stranger. try not to think that deciding

on anything will stop more emergence. leave it dark for all the strangers

who are essential. My life and death are in each stranger and

Fish Counter

Fish that have a pebble in their heads; Fish that hide in winter;

Fish that feel the influence of stars; Extraordinary prices paid for certain fish.

Pliny, The Natural History

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Cod that have been skinned. Cod that have a pebble

of dill butter in their heads. Cod breaded. Cod battered:

tempura or traditional. Smoked haddock. Dyed haddock.

Wise lumps of raw tuna. Scaled, pin-boned pollock, de-scented:

There areolfactory limits. Bake in the bag; no mess.

“This piece of halibut is good enough for Jehovah”.

Fishsticks pink as lads’ mags. Skirts and wet fillets

of sole. Fish fingers mashed from fragments of once-fish.

Hake three-ways. Extraordinary prices paid for certain fish.

Monkfish defrocked, gurnards gurning, fish so ugly

you must eat them blindfold. Choose before the ice melts.

Farm Boy

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We rattle through the lanes in his ancient

Austin Metro, footwells filled with welly-boots

and dried mud, clutches of sparrows bouncing

around the high hedges. We pull off-road

into gateways, warm dens of hawthorn;

with a wink, he tightens his dog-collar,

disappears into a field, then returns

with cauliflowers cradled baptismal

under his arm, or broccoli blooms

green as heaven. The Lord giveth

and I taketh away, he laughs.

One farmer gives us a brace of rabbits,

still warm, leg-lashed with pink bailer-twine,

and I hold them like new-borns in my lap,

soft as gloves. His theology is rich

stews and a full belly before the Lord,

bible verses broadcast like seedcake

on dry ground. I love him without

understanding. In the evening, he holds

me close and his prayers buzz sweetly

in my ear. My pillow is a honeyed God.

Publishing credits

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