Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lesley Wheeler's Heterotopia (Barrow Street, 2010)

Some favourite passages:

This blitzed, hungry, smoke-thin world
invented me, and its ardent lies

are my birthright.

from "Forged"

                                                               ...dryad men, full
of mutton and commerce, stomp through in gray overcoats.

from "Heterotopia"

The new designer had never seen an eagle and did not know
          it carried prey in its talons, or he wasn't as deft as the
          old artist, or he was bored and manufacturing trouble.
Ergo, the duck with something nasty in its bill.


...the irritable phoenix plotting immolation in its ball of myrrh....

from "Concerning the Liver Bird"

There he goes, peeping at my bosom
and away again quick, stumbling
and clutching his guilty heart.

It's snowing flakes of coal today.

from "Mr. Hawthorne Peeks at Me Shelf Kit, c. 1854"

Even my great-grandmother's suffering
was never told, save for the last birth, seventeen
years after the rest. Go to the pictures,
Father said, and the elder children grabbed
the coins and ran. They didn't know and he
was ashamed. The newborn small and powerful,
distilled from the ether, dreams, old rain.


                         All beginnings hurt
someone: the animal, the ground. So much
to witness and all of it slipping away.

from "Twilight Sleep"

A day becomes a story becomes a bird,
a lost seagull who shrinks each time
I describe him.

from "Inland Song"

I'd belong 
to it whether it wanted me or not.

end of "Vronhill Street in Liverpool 8"

It's an incoherent sound,
the shout of the unshaven man in the dirty cap,
but he has what you need and he sells it cheap.

from "The Calderstones"

If a magpie lights on the garden wall, she might

look up, and the wind might pluck a fragrance
from a blossoming bough.

from "The Forgetting Curve"


  1. Absolutely stunning. I just stumbled upon this post in googling 'heterotopia' and I am dismayed to find there is no bright button to click to buy a collection of your poems straight off the page. I know this is an old post, but please, tell me where I can find more of your work. Would you describe yourself as a 'confessional' poet? Where do your poems come from? What part of you? Amazing.

    1. Hi, Christine. You'll have to ask the poet herself! Her website's here: .