Michael Conley is a writer of poetry and prose from Manchester, England. His latest pamphlet is These Are Not My Dreams And Anyway Nothing Here Is Purple, and his work has been highly commended by judges of The Forward Prizes. Michael's short fiction collection, Flare And Falter, was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, and he's a co-host of The Other: a regular literary night in Manchester.
The best way to sit on the meat sofa
is naked. It warms to your particular temperature:
the sirloin cushions yield like the inside of a cheek
and the myoglobin stains your thighs
a pleasant pink blush. The meat is beef,
from massive bespoke cows, probably. Surrender
to the dead hug of the meat sofa whispers
the voiceover in the advert, sexily. When you move,
the sound is not tired springs or groaning wood,
but the welcome squelch of a knuckle rubbing a tired eyeball.
In just a few days, it will have become a stinking liability,
hot and juddery with maggots. The removal men
will refuse to go near it. But for now it’s beautiful,
undeniably beautiful; gamey, marbled,
glistening on the patio. Curl up and sleep here:
nobody deserves this more.
At The Park, A Grown Man
Has Got His Head Caught
In The Railings
Possibly somebody loves,
or at some point has loved,
this man. But it’s hard to imagine
right now. It’s hard to imagine
that for most of his life
he hasn’t been stuck
at this ninety-degree angle,
arms waving, jeans sagging
at the waist. He’s so angry
with the railings,
with the mud under his boots
and especially with the teenagers
who are laughing at him
from the picnic benches.
You could empty a whole tub
of vegetable oil onto his neck
and lug him out by his belt loops
but he wouldn’t thank you for it.
And of course you can’t ask him
what he was trying to do
in the first place.
He doesn’t know
what his pain looks like
from the outside.
Meat Sofa: berlin lit (issue 2)
At The Park, A Grown Man Has Got His Head
Caught In The Railings: These Are Not My Dreams
and Anyway Nothing Here Is Purple (Nine Pens Press)
Ekphrasis: exclusive first publication by iamb
It’s unlikely that this painting, entitled
Self Portrait Of MEL GIBSON
Throwing Away Disposable Coffee Cup
[By MEL GIBSON]
is actually by Mel Gibson.
How would it have ended up
at this car boot sale, for a start,
and besides everyone knows
that neither professional actors
nor anybody with right-wing views
are at all capable of serious artistic endeavour.
(Look at George W Bush, for example,
his stupid little drawings, or
Johnny Depp playing guitar.)
To me, it seems worth more
than the £20 sticker price:
the blue background
is as striking and pure as the memory
of the first time you visited a nicer country
and woke to the wine-dark sea, in the dawn.
The majority of the frame concerns
a photo-realistic rendering of Mel’s arm
(or whoever’s arm).
With those thick fingers crushing the white polystyrene,
with the blood-red sleeve rolled to the elbow,
it oozes masculine sex appeal.
The silver circle of the wastebasket
is a Blakean sun.
I intend to buy it and slice off the bottom three inches
where the aforementioned title is scrawled
then hang it in my office cubicle
where I will pass it off to interested colleagues
as entirely my own work. It really gives you a sense
of what's at stake, doesn't it
I'll say, cryptically, and they'll nod.