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Michael Conley



the poet

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 poems

Meat Sofa

00:00 / 01:06

            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

00:00 / 00:51

                        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.


00:00 / 01:35

            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.

Publishing credits

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


S h a r e

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