Poems from Issue #1

A collection of poetry published in Tengen Magazine.

From ISSUE #1:


‘In Memory of Nic Roeg’s Genius’
Stanley drove his fleshy car into the desert
It was more than a transport of delight.

– Will Self

Elegy for my first three dead fish

What were you thinking Solon,
when you leapt from the tank—
and led the others astray behind you?
Had you seen the world outside
and believed that the air was water?
Did you think that beyond this little tank
there was perfect clarity

Who is to say you were wrong Solon
except the kitchen floor’s
feeble testimony of your body?
And that of Democritus beside you.

Two crispy fish
curled up.
Lighter than sense can tell.
Still I wonder what happened to the third—
to Parmenides the wriggler—
Did a swish of the tail take him beyond
the pail
of ordinary fish?
Did he fall like Icarus
from the parching sun
back to some unknown sea
where all is
vastness and

– Vaclav Paris

Elegy for another four dead fish

Goddamit you little shits
why must you keep dying?
Is it written
in the DNA
of a little guppy
bred only to feed a bigger fish
to die

when there’s nothing to eat it?

Oh little unnamed fish
where have you gone?
Was it really so bad?
Your death weighs on me
and the lonely fish that are left.
It reflects badly on us all:
that I couldn’t care properly for you
that the water we drink is poison to your gills
that you simply weren’t cut out for life
in the modern world.

Much better to be born a lobster
or a human or a she-goat
or anything that eats other things
be it vegetables or meat-based matter
and is only then eaten in its turn.

– Vaclav Paris

A Year of Watching the Sun Rise

For you, who
Would like it simple,
Would like it clean and sweeping, open wide –

Know where you are; caught,
In the movement of a man passing a bird into your silent hands.
For you, who cannot bring yourself to wring its neck –

Not with the throwing thunder of a heart
So bold against a body meant for sanctuary –
You, standing carelessly with lacklustre, homesick hands and feet apart

It is for you,
Left to think on all this massy, weighted silence in the waiting dark,
Pushing words around the cavern of your mouth that never make it out, to say

What use are words when they strive to set apart the spark
From the flame?

You will be presented with the morning,
With the white wind chasing down the street,
Facing east.

– Sing Yun Lee

Blackbird Fly

Shot 1: garden fence post.
Enter flying blackbird, lands
on post, sings octave of C, ascending:
‘don’t rape mi for so li-ttle dough’.
Flies off.

Shot 2: empty road. Enter hopping
blackbird, dishevelled, dragging
a sack of cash, unable to fly.
Shuffling down the road, black bird
has lost voice, sold song and soul.
Only sound now, prison chain-gang
drag of loot
in bag
on concrete pavements.

– John Tucker


It’s better that you did not write
A fight we never had can never sting
And your words are such ephemeral things
Reaped from thin air, woven like silk
A ladies favour; a blindfold; a gag.
I take more care. My words have proper weight.
A plate smashed on the floor. I pick my words
To wound, to keep you in your proper place
Your spinner’s tongue laid no blanket on me
I wanted a brick in the face.

– Sofie Buckland

Description of a City Sunset

Above the street light
Constellations blinking into view,
I look up to God’s sky and sight
A far more brilliant hue.
Reflected in a high rise tower
The sun is slowly setting.
Glass walls in reds and yellows flower
Night should be collecting
Her sober livery to blanket the city
But alas! in twilight so stark
It seems rude electricity
Has quite shut out the dark
And one, if looking down, would think
The city never stopped—
Like a well which could forever sink
Or a tower never to be top’t.
Ah, to be gazing down from high!
For, staring upwards as I may be,
That no-one above can still see the sky
But ’neath man’s stars the sky can’t see me.

– Samuel Johnson

The Golden Age

So lazily the sun rests on the West
That the blue of the sky alone is fresh,
And air, through light’s alembic, drains as rest.

A mind in silence listens for the world,
And is unheard ; but casts thought out again,
Sharper through the twisted plates of gold.

I sit and wait. The flowers adjust their weight,
Or tremble into place, and rest their heads.
Perhaps their dreamed seeds learn to hibernate.

A bird intrudes. Apologising song
Trills forth, politely, and the swallow flies,
As in suspension golden, and is gone.

I close my notebook, then the open door.
Gold hours pass, suspended pendulums.
No wind, or thought, is stirring anymore.

– Rupert Manners

Sea Shore

What little lands cling to the shore
Against the widening hyaline,
Whose endlessness extends the more

In closing, flat, to meet the sky.
For here the broad and liquid plain
Reprieves the squatting cliffs and pools
From drifting in the endless blues
By painting shallow clouds across the same.

The crags store secret sensibles
Within their still and placid brine,
And miniature animals
Sprout within stones and sea-gouged mines;
Not mineral, but like the rocks
Bred ancient by successive waves,
Grown crude amidst the salt epochs,
Or cataclysmic quakes of land unlocked.

What depth of time through the unturned stone!
What lives of clenching cold and hardening alone!
At noon, sharp sunshine polishes
Small shells, glued to their living rocks.
Then children come, with simple, grafted nets,
Threshing the water; pupils deep as pools.

– Rupert Manners

Don’t Start Prattling

Don’t start prattling
or turn visionary with your class crumblings
and apocalyptic world shatterings,
or give sun-tanned speeches
how your experience was humbling.
Don’t get too pretty in your cocktail haze stumblings
or fussy with your short-skirt mothering
or prissy with your school-girl fluttering
or nostalgic for your pony-club bumbling,
city-ditherings and coked-up nattering.
Kitty kitty, the mind vomits at your bulimic fumblings,
sixties imitation clothes, and average ability
third-hand psychology, high-heeled social mobility
your hair gets indignant at the thought of utility.
Don’t start muttering your something somethings
or getting stuffy with your spiritual suffering.
Here’s a battering to appease your self-flattery
shut up and take another buttering.

– Robert Tucker


How can I describe this poem?
Take a pack of matches and set fire to a building,
then you will see.
Once you have dreamed this dream,
you will be inconsolable
I’m on the stairway with a bottle of vermouth
in a town I want to leave. The sun has declined.
there’s no question
no doubt, I have always known.
I hold the evidence so urgent,
the truth being vulnerable,
how much I was happy
in a room
in June

–  Robert Tucker


This is bullshit
Croaked the bloated priest, coveting
The autumnal austerity of
The textual
Sincerity he beheld before him.
Scenes of
Nature, visions of
Disgusted his onanistic sensibilities despite
Arousing his cloistered intellectual libido.
A structural meditation of no
Relation to the real, as he contemplated
The devastated passages of
Bleak space;
An oral tradition was living a life before
His own devouring iris.
Awareness of
Led him to pause constantly, hoping to limit the
Passage of
Time, an uncontrolled un-chaos of
Meaning, keening fury of
Non-literary howls of feeling non-existent.

Self-conscience was granted as a gift,

And iced of tongue as he lost
Gossamer threads of
Experience, as the
Barrier between description;
Reflection corroded pestilentially.
A naked angle of
Cold conducive jagged
Substance, uncontrollable beneath the veneer of
Fluidic intensity of immemorial ignominity led to his own premature
Aging in a passage of space, frozen.
An atonal song of
The single unit;
A scripture
Of profane intent
To sublime content,
Traumatic severance of
Colloidal flows of
Liquidated rationality.

Perfect realism

As pitched
To the exterminated
Artists (abyss) of
The world was
Rejected from the lectured
Vignette, the spark of
Intellect leapt into
The mouth of
Consumption, ravenously incomplete,
Glassed laughter was made
Into a process of
Haunting the iniquitous
Many, chortled into
Wraithlike obscurity, solemnity of
The transparent subverted.
Territorial landscape was
Sonically blissed, as
Epiphanous mortality
Crawled reptilian from
A cave of
The mind;
Poorly lit transformative in
Abstractly defined terms of

The language of
The rift of

Misted veins and absolute
Processes, annihilatory dreams,
The winter was shocked
And depressed by his own
Shocked and appalled at
The blank gaps in the text
Reflected on the insectoid
Statue of
The rapturous words with which
I could never correct.
The diminution of stasis
Became a process of
Rejection of
Self, an unreal
Plea made to the commonality of humanity.

A post script

The presence of
Common humanity is something which literature constantly
Seeks to establish as an enlightened
Mode of
Vision. However it is already taken as given by our own
Lurking thought processes, and so the air the words have used is wasted.
Instead, fantasy and non-reality of thought is what can be made
The truly real- the language of
Valid writing is the process of
Unaccepted fantasy.

– Francis Gene-Rowe


Please keep off the greener grass
Says the sign in Regent’s Park
So soon we found a browner patch
And put our fingers on our eyes

Now I see between the gap
Leaves are still, white, reaching
And something else was reaching too
We fell behind, us and our eyes

Tupperware sits on the floor
From our pre-prepared lunches
It was an Ok afternoon
But not as good as the idea

– Luke Davies

Over Breakfast

enter the tripped void, rifted,
between coalesced cover,
terrain sifted beneath anointed pith,
harlequins bleeding from the wrist.

outphades, cleft mists coagulate,
shifted from a column of airy sight to

a slight skin, thin corona
layer protective of
sinuous scaled prayer.

‘A constantly fragmentary process
of revelation, which seeks
oblivion within its own
literary idiom.’

fragmentary grains baited
their essential substantial gains;
mentional lanes of dream scape
vision sang lays of lamenting

–  Francis Gene-Rowe


Some of them kill quick,
others not at all.
The one my roommate and her newfound British accent
set out on our kitchen floor
was a glue trap.

In the morning, we found a heaving
mouse there, near-dead from struggle,
but you, you peeled its tiny paws,
like the pink hands of a foetus,
from the stickiness,
took it to some trees
a few blocks from my apartment,
and set it free.

This is what I am remembering
as I sit on the tangleroots of a tree by a creek,
near an old dirt road and a white clapboard building
where I have been coiled up all day,
talking about words.
It was a late fall, wasn’t it?
And now an early winter – see the snow, faintly
sifting itself from the sky?

Not enough to ruffle the wrists of fenceposts,
Dickinson-style, to be sure,
but enough
to set off a low, fiery maple
in the midst of a bunch of evergreens here
like a shrine,
enough to crunch beneath my feet before yielding
to the spongy earth below.
And I think of your face when I opened
the envelope that brought me

my grey fur shivering with the pleasure
of the late October air,
my small body hungering for yours,
my eyes creating you before me,
again and again, but never quite right,
kind of like this poem

– Kathryn M. Fleishman

Winter Is Coming

Winter is coming
Across the frozen lakes, and sullen planes
Riding on the wings, and crawling along the arms, of the highest wind
A chill along the eyes of the breeze
Wraps itself inside the skeleton-leaves for tenderness
But comfort will not visit these times again
The world is departed, and the stones no longer perceive
Take heed of the crouching wave
As it flexes its hind legs and steadies to ambush
The shore is soft, and the sea is hard
And my hands are blue.

The shiver forecasts her icicles
Those that droop, and crack and break
Four more months I sit and wait
On a sharp slope, above the clouds
For a sun to rise, or the rains to come
But it will not visit us again
We have been condemned to live
In a world of breeze and dry frost
That never melts,
A sea that cannot be touched
For it is violent, and we are only young.

Darkness comforts as the tide fades
A million times the sun could rise, a million ways
Maybe tomorrow I will swim
Maybe tomorrow the sky will fall in.

– David Whelan


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