Poems by Mark G Pennington
Published in March-April 2018 Issue

Introduction to the Poet: 

Mark G Pennington is a writer based in Kendal, UK and he is the author of Barren Stories for Moonlit Mannequins (Dempsey & Windle 2018) which is his debut collection of poetry. He has recently been nominated for The Pushcart Prize for poetry and his poems have appeared in many magazines and journals, including Scarlet Leaf Review, Visions with Voices, Poetry Pacific, Visitant and The Oddville Press.


In the pulp of oranges


Oh river, if only I could tell you,

why men and dogs walk in the

rain, how secrets are sometimes

buried in the pulp of oranges,

and why I keep a five-dollar bill

encased in glass.

Your pleasant trees ate all your

moonbeams and littered when

the snow fell. Allegro, allegro,

softly now slow, endless cancer

patients in your early rise, your

beauty breathes beyond atrophy,

why there is no cacao.

You sleep on the heels of

Cheapside, you remember the

great war, have the last laugh

inside cartons of milk and bring

prophets to church.

Your swans make sailors into


Oh river, with your otters and

crayfish and the puerperium,

you sleep with death and show

me violence every day and I

walk beside your animal mouth,

and the dogs lick your gravid

belly. Oh river, if there is one

thing in the world that speaks

as calm as you, then it is time,

it is procurement of will,

the river is a shotgun, the

river is the blues, and all your

fluvial bones melt away like

the setting sun at the turn of

the day.

Oh river, oh river, oh why can’t

you be more like the sea and

bring my bottles to the shore?

Oh river, there is more whales’

breath in the morning sea.

There are more secrets in the

pulp of oranges.






The hungry elephant from trombone yard,

where old haircuts get examined, in your

beauty the elephant never forgets the curve

of your lips picking milk, throwing it into

the empty cart, the elephant watches

macchiatos cool and turned on Carnegie

and has never worn Wainwright’s shoes.

Your milk breath sings on Corpus Christi,

you the real body and blood, a caryatid for

the cross, you are made of wood and your

heart an apple. You swim in the depths of

fluvial dreams and your bosom echoes in

the belfry, a voice hung like willow as

mercury dresses at your feet. The elephant

hears my curious infatuation above

trombones, perfume or nettles, stinging my

eyes your cactus body, I am like a moth,

my heart limestone, sitting in a café in Berlin.

The language of rote or love or temptation

speak to my elephant ears, hungry as night

I am Rodin’s naked study for Balzac.

Then cupid bandaged in patchouli shoots

arrows at the moon, your milk eyes suck

blisters off my lips. The elephant drinks

trombones in my sleep when you heat your

milk. Your trombone smile is a meerkat to

my elephant. The past, which matters only

in matters of milk, lives now as jejune

portraits, nailed to wood, as snowbirds

feed in the whiteness of their milk




Bicycles sleep on patios


The radiator is bored with the diurnal rhythms of life

and swills gas in its mouth and gargles like a juggling

diatribe, where it is fixed to the hallway and bicycles

sleep on patios, the winter cold seeps in through the

vents, the spider webs and the river mites – copulating

on my flesh, revere the warmth; the radiator howls in

its amateur boxing hour, sparring with the dust and the

broken dead flesh, and I am the wino who would be

drinking out of gutters. The radiator bleeds like a

garbage truck, spilling its petty guts over the lion’s

share of the carpet. On my afternoon walk the beige

hearts of the promenade look wistful and brood like

the petrol mouth of the radiator. The leaf blower

sweeps nature’s garbage to the grass and when the

night falls every star is dirt and laughing girls shake

the dust from grinders in the park and smoke their


The all-night supermarket does not know the radiator

and its lousy caprice, but monkey shoulder deafens

my ears to the beat. And then it groans as I return with

pieces of shoe missing, and cellos dream in vibrato in

my absence, full on scents of peppermint tea.

My radiator dreams of its autonomy but gives out heat

with its surly pout, like I am back in Spain

with the perfumes and the garbage, night sweats and

lucky stars and I imagine that I can leave my teeth

marks in the sky.

The radiator loves like a new born mother, holding

me in its vice, cradled in the arms of a madman heat.




Drinking vulnerably


In the supported living houses you get a bus pass,

in the morning I go to the Furness Railway pub

and drink three cheap beers, then I go for coffee

and watch the others with their escorts. The ones

in bed until three. I eat my lunch at the café and

every day I get a little more information from the

cute waitress.  Where she studied, what she likes

to read, the way to get her is to act like you don’t

need a thing.  After lunch I walk to the

supermarket and screen the new records on sale,

then I walk behind the women dressed in leather

and drown in the beat of their shoes. It sounds like

port of Nice and Chateau Hill. When I return to the

house it stinks as only those places can.  I go to the

Strawberry after an hour in there and then think

about strange love.  At tea time I manage three

more beers. I tell the barkeep to put the game on

the television set, any game. Usually I have to

work the remote myself from an engineered angle.

These lean years are good for nostalgia. In the

evening I write my short stories and screenplays for

the university. The tutor likes my work says I am

Chandleresque, whatever that means. These lean

years are good for building character. There is

nothing better than hitting rock bottom, getting

knocked clean out.  Then standing up and

demanding a rematch.