Samuel Tongue

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the poet

Winner of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust, and former poetry editor at The Glasgow Review of Books, Samuel Tongue is a widely published poet with a debut collection, Sacrifice Zones, and two pamphlets – Stitch and Hauling-Out (Eyewear Aviator, 2016). His recent work has appeared in Finished Creatures, Butcher’s Dog, The Scores, and One Hand Clapping. A selection of Samuel's poems is to be published in Ukrainian translation by KROK in 2021. 

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.


The Natural History

Pliny

00:00 / 01:08

            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 are olfactory 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

00:00 / 01:01

            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 newborns 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

Emergent Properties: Finished Creatures (Issue 4)

Fish Counter: Gutter (No. 17)

Farm Boy: exclusive first publication by iamb