The Geographical Tongue

Maybe an infra-red satellite surveillance photograph
of watersheds and catchments where the words are hidden
in soft crevasses, bunkers and mass graves, war crimes
balanced on the tip and beginning to slip, sliding to the edge

down the jagged river, the rocky road of powdered steel
and shredded tyres, toppled walls and shattered basements
to well-earned oblivion. . . Enough said, so use it sparingly
to taste the air or lick stamps, or better still not at all, put it away,

roll it under wraps, only emerging for those essential syllables.
Even then, most likely I’d grab it and drag it out of you
like an admission or denial, or let you, in everyone’s interest
including your own, bite it off, no questions asked.


Howard Wright lectures in the History of Art and the Applied Arts at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University. Blackstaff Press published King of Country in 2010. Blue Murder published by Templar Press/ Iota Shots followed in 2011. He has won the Frogmore Prize twice. New poems recently appeared in Agenda, The Dalhousie Review, Cyphers and Magma; others are due for publication in Stand, The North and Honest Ulsterman.  Notwithstanding the demands of poetry, he has returned to painting which excites and thrills as much as a successful poem.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

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