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PRIVATE PLACES

Wynn Wheldon is a jack of several trades, having worked in bookselling, publishing, politics, arts exchange, radio and advertising.

 

His poetry has appeared in a wide range of magazines and journals, including Acumen, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House, London Magazine, Lunar Poetry, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole and The Rialto.

 

His pamphlet Tiny Disturbances, of which Dannie Abse remarked that “there are many fine poems between its handsome covers”, was published by Acumen in 2012.

 

He has written plays, and won awards for his short stories. He is the compiler of a number of books of quotations that sit well in any home’s ty bach, including The Father and Child Companion (MQP) and Porches (Barrons Educational).

 

He has reviewed poetry for the Spectator, Iota, Sabotage, Lunar Poetry, and Ink Sweat & Tears.

 

Wynn’s biography of his father, Kicking the Bar: A Life of Huw Wheldon, will be published in 2016.

He is currently working on a biography of the pugilist Daniel Mendoza.  

 

Wynn has three sons and a grand-daughter, and lives in London. He blogs at wynnwheldon.com and can be found under his own name on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

WYNN WHELDON

 

PRIVATE PLACES

 

Cover illustration by MOLLY LINE

 

ISBN 978-1-909357-97-6

 

Indigo Dreams Publishing

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

74 pages

 

£7.99 + P&P UK

 

PUB: OCTOBER 19 2015

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Desired Skinny Dips

 

She makes a brightness in the dark water.

A luminous fish, a beckoning lamp

On a moonless night; she smiles as I watch,

Shaking my head, refusing to join her,

Fearful of revealing a shy member,

A body less perfect than desire makes hers.

 

How hot that day was, heading for Sussex

When, on a by-road, we crossed a bridge

That spanned an invitation to relief.

The girls in quickly shucked summer frocks

Were in first. We laboured with belts and socks.

I laboured longest, was left then to gaze.

 

And had to turn away of course afraid

Of ogling accusations (against myself)

And so instead stored up a memory

Of a smile, high breasts and a mocking

That was not meant but that I have heard

Gently down the years, regretting the unsaid

 

 

 

Following the Funeral of Aleister Crowley

 

“I am perplexed”

         Last words of Aleister Crowley

 

The young woman with the hyacinth hair

strokes Chrysanthemum, a small white rabbit,

that shakes as the storm flattens the garden.

 

Earlier, at the seaside funeral,

few present, the day had been pale, opal;

an old man gone, depleting the chess club.

 

The house now creaks like an aged galleon,

seems to list and heave with the gale, and minds

summon Prospero, then Faustus, Dee, God.

 

 

 

 

The Interment

 

An afternoon dew

so that there is a sparkle

in a day of torn cloud.

 

Hang back from those

whose blood’s touched

by the dead.

 

A middle-aged man grasps

an ugly scrub of rosemary.

A hurrah for the archaic.

 

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Somebody whispers,

“Most funerals are in movies.”

 

On the opposing hill

we rebuilt a ruin.

Still the breeze chills it.

Over to the dead it peers

and they peer back,

waiting.

Language

Naples, 2014

 

I’m behind her on the escalator.

Going up. She’s talking to her friend.

It’s all in Italian; shall I speculate?

The Neapolitans are an earnest lot

(They stare when I laugh, like cats) so

Perhaps she’s the victim of a Mafia plot.

Whatever it is, it’s eye to eye stuff.

Gold jangles from her ears, at wrist,

At perfumed neck. An eruption of outrage

And incomprehension. Miraculously,

Out of this hard-eyed complaint, emerges

A hand dance almost comically Italianate,

The arm rising, her slim fingers fanning

Before converging, rebudding,

The flower tipped with pearl-painted nails

And now it’s a snake’s head dancing

Before her pearl-painted lips,

She is speaking poison,

And I am deafened and charmed.

 

 

 

 

Subject

 

If it’s all the same to you

I won’t write her name. To do so

would invite danger.

Edgar Allan Poe

was her kind of stranger.

 

Half Jew, half Catholic,

but her name has pagan magic.

 

It’s tragic. After all these years

I only need to think it, see it,

and I disappear

can’t drink my tea,

can’t find my beer.

 

I suppose I’ve scurried back

to my nineteen-seventies

to when love was a liar

and I fizzed with uncertainties

other than this: desire.

 

I once attempted ingress –

thought myself invited –

was slighted –

starched was the cotton of her nightdress.

She slept in my sheets, my bed.

I introduced myself to the flooring.

 

Quite unforgotten

is the imperishable tag

inscript by light across her back

the sun slicing the curtains

as she stripped in the morning.

It fills the page inside my head

with poem after poem after poem.

 

 

 

#Teenagekick

 

I’m thinking of you

as you lay beneath me

nude as a beach pebble,

hard as scree. At the peak

you croaked another’s name.

       As you slept

away I crept without a creak.

When he moved to his present address Wynn Wheldon took to walking his dog in the local cemetery.  Graves began to fascinate him.  They are fine and private places, as Marvell remarked, and pondering them took him to other such places - beds, for example, where lovers do embrace and where progeny are created, and so to the place of the divine in our quotidian lives, never forgetting that we are, at base, animals.  These are the four themes – death, love, divinity and the animal – with which this collection is loosely concerned.

 

 

 

“Illuminated by bright flashes of rueful wit, this is a collection to savour.  But don’t let the conversational tone of Wynn Wheldon’s poems fool you: they smile and take you by the hand and then pierce you with little needles of pathos or loss, as sharp and fiery as Cupid’s arrows.”

Cressida Connolly

Author and Journalist

 

“Here are the traces of a life, the passage through it, the innocence and experience, the successes and failures, the sacred and profane. Here is youth and maturity, mortality, desire, and the cooling of desire. Here we find Dionysus, a phoenix and canoeists from Birmingham. Above all, memory - the curve of a breast, the smell of sex, light falling on water - fleeting sensual impressions that will in turn linger on in the mind of the reader. I love these poems.”

Anna Thomasson

Author ‘A Curious Friendship’, Journalist

 

“Private Places is a full collection in the best sense. It is redolent with thought, in its own voice, full of perception, 'The hillsides weep into the reservoir', and fine irony, 'She gave herself to someone sound.../Who did not euphemise desire with books'.”

William Oxley

Poet

On Glastonbury Tor

 

The wind’s an angry god

Almost whipping off my glasses

So I’ll go down blind

 

Four young women squat

Palms upwards in circle

Perhaps sort of praying

 

A child’s hat blows off

Later to be unwoven for a nest

Or else to yellow grass

 

Laughter’s hurled

Into the iron kettle of history

Maybe there was murder here

 

I cannot hear my friends

However loud they call

This is a crowded loneliness

 

Blind and deaf, the easterly’s

In my mouth and nose

And now my fingers chill

 

Each sense stabbed

I am pure feeling

Divinity all wrung out

 

What’s left is still ancient

And somehow holy

The wind for ever leaving

 

 

 

 

The Red Rock

 

I suppose it was iron rich

that high red rock in Criccieth

behind Marine Terrace, above

the pitch-and-putt and bowls;

a place where fantasies bloomed

among the broom and gorse

and I was lost to all but myself

and, faraway and visible,

the magic mountains, winking

in sunshine, slumbering in mist.

 

The gulls rode the breezes

like gang boys shoulder-rolling

while over the years the scrub filled

with bright new builds, like plastic

blocks on an old kilim

and facts began to pile upon my fancies

until the red rock became ferrous,

geological, eroded to

a memory, a mere poem.

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