Adam Crothers

Gear & John Craxton: Portrait of Sonia (1948-57)

Adam Crothers

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Gear

           (poem ending with a line by Adrienne Rich)

This cocktail stick is a functioning spear,

ideal for the floorspace afforded us, here by the pier.

Ditto that toothpick. Ditto my career:

tapered to a point that blunts on a mere


patty of piggy, or that tooth at my ear

where said piggy gets stuck. Compare the dear

little catalogue of failings to the scale of the near-

unscalable heights of their warehouse! I fear


this story is not for us. I’m afraid we repeatedly veer

from the plot line into a creek of craft beer,

a box set and a mid-range bourbon bringing up the rear.


Hell is other people having one hell of a year.

Heaven is a half rhyme. God is queer.

His list must not have room. Our names do not appear.


John Craxton: Portrait of Sonia (1948-57)

I understand. A decade blown

to bursting, its glut and its rubberneck gored.

Spinning, from the string of the body’s balloon,

between twigs, a skewed grid.


Don’t talk. This isn’t a poem. Pull on

not forelock but base coat, and wade

out through the pool scummed with pollen.

Be unfallen. Spider, spider, turning white.


Weeds mock a plot arc, a bended knee.

Heartily sorry for having offended thee,

they, as you through your film of noir, see


that there’s mostly too much other to

make forsaking it fair. Rarely, too,

sufficient always to save the face just so.


Adam Crothers


Adam Crothers was born in Belfast in 1984, and lives in Cambridge. He is the author of Several Deer (Carcanet, 2016) and an editor for the online magazine The Literateur.