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Luke Palmer



the poet

Poet, author and teacher Luke Palmer has written two poetry pamphlets: Spring in the Hospital – winner of the 2018 Prole Pamphlet Prize – and In all my books my father dies. His novels for young adults have been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. In 2022, he won the Winchester Poetry Prize. Luke's debut poetry collection Homunculus is due out from Broken Sleep Books in early 2024.

the poems

Potty Training

00:00 / 01:13

                              My father in his soiled apron

                              kneels to the rug I’ve soiled

                              sops it with caustic water

                              his cracked knuckles singing

                              so much soil and smut

                              while outside the earth stirs

                              the small machines rising

                              the shock of my own water

                              brings springs to my eyes and

                              father comforts me 

                              says all water is blessed

                              is longing to fall

                              back to the centre and

                              the world’s in endless gyre

                              around a hollow middle

                              where God sits and

                              he rises up through everything

                              muddied by what he touches

                              but still inside everything

                              that seed spirit inherent and

                              I am a planet too

                              my divine core rising

                              to puddle on the kitchen floor

                              miraculous he says and smiles

                              his raw hands working the rug

                              beneath his knees and

                              my miraculous marks

Horse Mother

If [a human sperm] be fed wisely with the Arcanum

of human blood, and be nourished for up to forty weeks,

and be kept in the even heat of the horse's womb,

a living human child grows therefrom.

Paracelsus – De Natura Rerum (1537)

00:00 / 01:20

                        O great and latinate mother     there I was

                        haunched in your middle     mired inside

                        the bloody knot of you     fattened on plasma

                        plump little barrel     the small bow

                        and tight stitch of     my shimmering

                        translucent brain  

                                                     I wanted to stay

                        squared in your uterus     womb-warmed and duvet’d

                        galloped in your sternum     stuffed and packed

                        wanted to be kept               left to loll in your thick

                        limbic hedgerow    cooped in that belly

                        never to be dealt     but no

                        plans had been made     the world opened

                        so big my mother O

                                                     so big and so so cold


00:00 / 01:02

                              Yes     today has been the bluntest

                              cross legged at the kitchen window

                              the same view pressing on it

                              the sills are deep with flies      ticking 

                              consonants of small forms that 

                              slowed against the glass then 

                              shrunk       their cursive rasp 

                              at my fingernails       only the fridge 

                              hums now       meanwhile the sky 

                              is faultless with swifts        I watch

                              vital parts of myself detach       

                              lumber to the river where 

                              they cease         I squeeze greenfly 

                              from the bud of every rose

                              in all my prosperous beds

                              until my fingers change colour

Publishing credits

Homunculus, Potty Training / Horse Mother:

  exclusive first publication by iamb

Doomscrolling: Anthropocene


S h a r e

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