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.
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 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
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.
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.