Sunday Poem – Luke Samuel Yates

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Dublin, which seems unwise as earlier I agreed with the husband that it would be a brilliant idea to go running at 7am and it is now nearly 1am.  However, I have been wrestling with the hotel internet so it is not completely my fault.

I’ve been in Ireland since last Wednesday when we drove to Holyhead and got the 2.30am ferry across to Dublin.  I did manage to get a couple of hours sleep on the ferry but then we drove down to Glendalough which is an amazing ancient monastic city which is surprisingly intact.  It has this wonderful tower, with the door twelve feet up in the air which apparently the monks would have accessed via a ladder which would have then been pulled up so the vikings couldn’t get to them. We got there at 7am and had the whole place to ourselves.  I think it has to be one of the best places I’ve ever visited.

On the way down to Fermoy we also visited Kilkenny and got either a late breakfast or an early lunch, depending on how you think of these things and the Rock of Cashel which is also impressive, but decidedly less peaceful than Glendalough.  Then again, it is July and it was mid-afternoon, so can’t really expect anything else.

By the time we got to Fermoy we were both a bit haggard around the edges.  We were staying with my lovely friend Ita who stuffed us full of bread and cakes and tea and then we got an early night.

Because of the approach of 7am and the promised run, you will have to wait a couple of days for the next instalment of my Ireland trip and I will get on with unleashing the Sunday Poem on the world.

This week’s Sunday Poem is by Luke Samuel Yates who was a winner in this year’s Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition with his pamphlet The Flemish Primitives I first met Luke a couple of years ago at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival when we read together.  Luke was reading from his Rialto pamphlet The Pair of Scissors That Could Cut Anything which I really enjoyed, and his new pamphlet is just as good.

I’ve chosen ‘Mars, surrounded by Arts and Sciences, conquers Ignorance’ this week because I love it’s dry humour and sarcasm.  I love the little details: ‘It was a Tuesday evening’ and the use of the words ‘come over’ as if Arts and Sciences were friends that have come over to play. Luke’s poems often have this air of surrealism about them that is also completely grounded in every day language.  The world of the poem is always believable somehow.   A lesser poet would have ended the second stanza a line earlier, but Luke pushes it further with that dry last line.  The more I look at this poem, the more I think it is those small, well-chosen details which make it such a good poem, and which make it funny – the fact that Ignorance has a paper cup.  It is also a hard thing to do to personify an abstract, but he manages it brilliantly.  I would really recommend the pamphlet.  He also has a fantastic poem about Tony Blair which you really need to read.

Luke Samuel Yates lives and works in the North-West.  A four-times Foyle Young Poet of the Year, his work has appeared in The Rialto,  The North, THE SHOp, Magma, Smith’s Knoll and on the London Underground. His pamphlet The Pair of Scissors that Could Cut Anything was published by The Rialto in 2013 and The Flemish Primitives in 2015 by The Poetry Business.

Thanks for reading, and apologies for the shortness of this post and thanks to Luke for allowing me to use his poem.

I’m reading in Dublin at The Workman’s Club on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm with Arthur Broomfield and Jane Clarke – if you happen to be coming, do come and introduce yourself!

Mars, surrounded by Arts and Sciences, conquers Ignorance – by Luke Samuel Yates

after Antoon Claeissens

 It was a Tuesday evening
and there was nothing on television.
Arts and Sciences had come over
and were standing around
absent-mindedly spinning orbs,
twirling their palettes, playing wind instruments,
mapping the known world.

 Mars felt good when Arts and Sciences were around,
and Arts and Sciences could get on with things.
Today Mars felt good enough
to take down Ignorance in a judo throw
taught to him by Jupiter, taking one’s opponent
by the shoulders and stepping forward
to sweep their feet from under them.
Ignorance lay on the ground
muttering and cursing  in an guttural argot
that was not even of anthropological interest.

Mars stood there with his foot
on Ignorance’s throat for a while.
Arts played a catchy little tune
and Sciences did something curious
with a pair of compasses. When Mars
got bored he tried to kick Ignorance away,
but Ignorance was surprisingly heavy.

He just carried on lying there
wringing his hands,
distracting everybody
with his moaning, his paper cup.

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