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Commiserate — April 2017 — Dave Coates

April 27, 2017

On not being asked by anyone

Dave Coates & Ryan Van Winkle

On not being asked by anyone

 

I

sunset breathing fire
dangerous toxin levels
in the atmosphere

oh snowflake, embrace
the 19th century, feel

how nice it was, how nice

and it must be nice
to accept god’s silence

to grab what is yours
right off the shelf

amber boxes of grain
land of pilgrim’s pride
sorry, this soup
tastes of corpses

sorry
you have not emerged
as a significant
force

 

II

 

Moloch, what do you say to the colours on the street
Will they sing their purple songs till their faces are blue

Do you want to make a bet, Moloch, did we win
are we winning, Moloch! Losers! Haters! Poison!

Greased coins slip from our fingers! Moloch! Them women
ain’t going quiet!  It’s them Russians, them big bears, Moloch
you can wrestle. Moloch! Not weak! Not low energy!

Sad! It’s Sad!

Children wash up on sand. Chi-na children.
Syrian children. Are you scared of the beach, Moloch?

 

III

 

EU academics should
make preparations to leave,

we found three earth-like planets,
it is warm for february,

it is warm for mittens, for wooly hats,
for sheep in the meadows, for suckers.

My shoes need laces, they say
pull up your pants, wear a belt.

The world is elderly, the world has been elderly
since before you were born, my dear.

I hardly recognise you. That shirt, that colour
doesn’t suit you, I no longer trust your mustache.

This isn’t talking. This isn’t saying.
This is a fact. This is opinion.

Don’t call me sucker.

 

IV

 

sorry, i’m trying to stay
professional here, i know
there are children watching

sorry, this is traditional
sorry all this has a
grim familiarity

 

V.

 

we are living. we aren’t doing much. we were all sitting around.
a pack of poets finishing the black wine, dipping bread
into squid ink. and, of course, somebody says Syria,
and of course someone has an opinion. you see, we’ve thought
about this. we are sensitive and international. we know the news
from all points of the compass. we are whalers. we are at sea
for months at a time.

we are in serbia but the serbs are not talking about war.
but the dane is describing sleeping churches.
but the spaniard is articulating an algorithm – saying capacity capacity capacity
but the romanian sees refugee children with new schoolbags
but the american stays quiet because she is stoned. she went
out to the bay and watched lights twinkle on ripples.
but the greek breaks and reminds us there are bodies
washing up on the shore and the young boys in service
have to pull them out, line them up, count them
every day there are more numbers

so someone says ‘what can we do?’ as if there was a hotline.
nobody says ‘we should write a poem’. nobody says
we should just go on living. somebody says we should finish
this bottle and then get some sleep. someone says we
should finish this bottle, have a shot of schnapps
and then see where the night takes us. because we
are alive and this is what the living do.

 

VI

 

the clock doesn’t care
nor does the television
nor the talking heads

my life is a sofa, a love seat, a bed.

i read newsweek, i read time
counting up the names like mine
there are so many

i’m on a panel
i say some uncomfy things
i will not make friends

that is the best part – rowing the boat away

i will not make friends with you

 

VII

 

The ruins proclaim
our building was beautiful.

There were oranges.

Fact explains nothing.
2 + 2 = who gives a shit

where’s my phone?
have you seen my phone?

i remember standing with her
until he got bored and walked away

i remember the clerk saying
I would prefer not to

i remember i was carrying
a box of cereal
my favourite

the sky was red i had
a few minutes before work

i would prefer not to

Commiserate — February 2016 — Dave Coates

February 11, 2016

Snapchats of Rain – February 2016

Dave Coates & Ryan Van Winkle

queenDave says: The last time I worked with Ryan on a poem was just after I’d had my application to take a PhD at Edinburgh University accepted – this is one of the only poems I’ve written since then. In between all the thesis-writing, review-writing and, y’know, wage labour, the only poems I’ve been able to write are these little haiku-y things. I like how little space they take, how they feel like they could just go on unimpeded forever like wee flowers with deep roots, that they do a bit of shaking off of the old poet-ego thing. Ryan knows how to give those wee herbs a heartbeat. Cheers pal.x

Snapchats of Rain

in the daily puzzle
we hustle our edges
we build a story

*

this chest, this mind was yanked out
not exactly wanting to go

*

you live a hundred deaths a day, she says – grass,
birds, your mother –
you only get one of your own –

*

so much life is departure
even standing still, ghosts arrive

*

like teeth, she says, take care
of what god gave you

*

fire in the water and
the water was warm
as a stubborn calf in june

*

bring me my timeline of quiet
bring me snapchats of rain
dear friend, whither now our filters?

*

i take a picture, i make a fire
with my own two hands
wood finding use, again

*

accidents of feet and knees
this door, this path, this rain, this wind.

*

all this business about yesterday
when there’s still fuel in the tank

*

don’t be afraid, he said.
He said, here’s how to stay
permanently surprised.

*

And here’s how to shiver
here’s how to get cold

*

seagull feathers at the church door
a little heap of antlers

*

there’s a little space left
between two well-loved
books. a many-hearted shelf

*

there’s a little piece
waiting to be placed

Dave Coates is a poetry critic and PhD candidate. He writes poetry crit at DavePoems and on Louis MacNeice and contemporary Northern Irish poetry at the University of Edinburgh. In 2015 he won the Best Reviewer award from Sabotage Reviews.

The Good Dark at Edinburgh International Book Festival – Reviews

August 9, 2015

On Friday 21 August I’ll be joining poet Jonathan Edwards (My Family and Other Superheroes) at the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre for poems and chat at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’ll be reading from my second collection, The Good Dark, reviews of which you can find below. Hope to see you there!

The Good Dark — Reviews

So far, reviews of The Good Dark have been kind. If you’d like to hear me read in person, you can catch me at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 21 August at 20.45.

‘(The Good Dark) moves between stabbing pain, deep melancholy and cautious optimism, always with the same gentle touch.’ — The Skinny

‘Channelling Bob Dylan at his trippy, visionary best…’ — The Scotsman

‘…the poetry of loss in The Good Dark, particularly loss of love, is not bitter or recriminatory, but a kind of analysis, a recognition of one’s own failure, even a manner of apology.’ — Dave Coates

Buy a copy from Penned in the Margins, or find it wherever you buy your books. 

Coates on Donne

October 23, 2009

Dave “Milk Trombone” Coates shares his thoughts on John “The Bronze Seagull” Donne. Coates examines ‘To Mr Tilman after he had taken orders’ with characteristic wit and a threadbare honesty which brings the Donne’s poem to life. Read it here – at the Scottish Poetry Library Reading Room. Enjoy.

August is the Cruellest Month

July 27, 2009

Well, T.S. Eliot might beg to differ but, to me, “August is the cruellest month.” At least if you live in Edinburgh and haven’t fled to find peace in the Highlands or Greek islands or anywhere but here. For those of you, like me, who are still kicking around and are willing to risk getting the evil Fringe Fever here are some good free poetic and literary happenings to keep you busy. I’m involved in most these things in some way so do come along, say hello, and tell me what shows not to see. Also — below are details on new books from Forest Publications and Read This Press + Calls for Submissions.

 

 

* Thursday 30 July — 6.30pm, Free —- Edinburgh Central Library —- James Kelman reading from and talking about his book Kieron Smith, boy which has bagged a swathe of prizes.

 

FREE but ticketed and booking is essential. Email helen@bridgereadings.net or call 07784 31 9868 to secure a place. For more details see: www.bridgereadings.net

* Friday 7th August — 6pm, Free — Edinburgh Central Library —- Words and Music from Cool America with Don Paterson: American poetry chosen by poet Don Paterson and read by distinguished film actor Angus MacInnes backed by a full-on jazz band! Followed by the brilliant St. Jude’s Infirmary with their dark dreamy swirl of literate melodic beauty. And, I’m honoured to be reading a poem with the band so you must come. Also, free booze. Basically — Not to be missed!

  • Friday 14 August — 2pm, Free — Edinburgh Books — Jim Haynes: A Roving Life — Jim Haynes is a living legend. Flâneur, writer, publisher, former bookshop owner and host to thousands over the years he’s spent welcoming strangers to his Parisian atelier for Sunday dinner, his is a life more spectacular than most. We can’t wait to hear his tales, in conversation with Ryan Van Winkle.

 

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Wednesday 26 August, 12 – 3pm, Free — St. Andrew’s Square: Poetry in St Andrew Square

A very special poetry event: Our Poetic Orators will wander the gardens offering up poems to picnickers and passers by. In the old oral tradition — our performers will entertain and inspire. Come to listen, come to enjoy. www.spl.org.uk

New Books From Forest Publications and Read This + Call for Submissions:

  • Three New Chapbooks from Forest Publications: Wow! Now available are chapbooks from Fiona Morrison, Dave Coates and Russell Jones. Only two pounds and available at The Forest Shop. Very limited print-runs so snap up your copies now and come in to browse our other books from Edinburgh writers such as David Gow, Jane Flett, Ericka Duffy and Sandra Alland. Collect them all!http://ryanvanwinkle.com/two-new-chapbooks-from-forest-publications/

  • Sharks Don’t Sleep is the title of the brand new chapbook from New Jersey-based spoken word poet Eric Hamilton, and it’s published by Read This Press.  Described as “a book that crackles with life,” and “a grimy, romantic and fucking funny look at the world,” Sharks Don’t Sleep is a beautiful 32-page chapbook, hand-made with high quality cardstock covers and embellished with a black ribbon bookmark and original artwork. Find out more here: http://www.readthispress.com

Poets Needed — For hybrid photo / poetry project.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 10TH OCT 2009

CONTACT: poemillustrated@gmail.com See poster below for details:poetsneeded

Two New Chapbooks from Forest Publications

July 25, 2009

morrison_coverTwo hot new chapbooks have been released by Forest Publications, the short story Find it in the Dictionary by Fiona Morrison, and a collection of poems, Cover Story by Dave Coates.

Morrison’s story follows the lives of a brother and sister, disjointed over the years by war,  pregnancy,  illness and the insistent trauma of the family dictionary.

Here’s a taste:

dandelion, dan’di-li-en, n. a common yellow-flowered composite (Taraxacum officinale) with jagged-toothed leaves. [Fr. dent de lion, lion-tooth]

It was the first word she’d looked up in the dictionary and the first flower she’d ever picked. How the white whiskers that floated softly through the wind were anything like lions’ teeth she did not know. As she lay on the ground to reach the mass of white flowers that strained upwards to break free from the edge of the towering cliff, she had leaned in for the kill and blown them completely bare. All except one. Her hair hung over the side of the dark rock, striving to dip its curling ends into the black waves, but it was given to the wind and not the sea as she stood up quickly with the largest dandelion – the chosen one – and ran home.

webcover

Dave’s collection comprises ten poems, arranged in three loose sections – Life, Death and Belfast. Here is one from the Belfast chapter, “Giant’s Causeway”:

Giant’s Causeway

Mist crawled upwards from the surface,
the cluttered sky turned grey and we retired
from the tectonic sea and gathering smirr
to a pub you knew. Only the birds knew
what the sea had said, what it kept to itself.
Earlier that morning a hundred feet above the basalt,
I caught my breath and followed you
a few steps behind along the machair.
You gave nothing away as you gathered
palm-sized stones from a cairn by the cliff-face.
I named haresfoot, razorbills, chimney-stacks,
causeway tales. You sent skimmers over
the cliffs as I yammered, disguising
cover-stories in the tide’s howl and skirl.

Both books and more are available at The Forest Shop — 3 Bristo Place, Edinburgh, 0131 220 4538 and will be availible on-line shortly.

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