Gavin Selerie: Silent Inferno

Silent Inferno


Through a bird mask what runs sweet
over the bridge
comes to taste metallic

tell me grafter, would you lick that dragonzello
you gave someone else, bulging yellow or hectic red

a guy like you can walk through any speech backwards—
it’s just a molestation in the pit
before the real junket

to test if it rages

the swabs will make a catch

* * * * *

But why play the geometer and rummage
to nail a demon
making tears in squinted eyes

this scheme could be a skit, bobbing slowly on silver

whose fault can be pinned
in flashes
magnate to beggar
with babble from each gaping throat

are you nobody, hiding with the contracts out

ledger on ledge, coin in casino boat, proctor by spangles
darn me I can’t tell, here in pale blue smoke

a thousand forms I didn’t file or assign

* * * * *

At the funnel base all denominations mix
in red-hot rock or ice

no helicopters blink signals, no sirens whine

just a fragment of fear remains
as every package left at the door
starts to gurgle

oh Fontella, this wickerwork of nerves
is like a twig bleeding

she so far-off, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
voice like a fooork in nevery balba
aching charms

elsewheretic (the message floats)

* * * * *

Hello from the inside, I’m pressed to the wall
an almond-eyed mosaic

did we dance, yes, no—maybe

in a touch passing kin you’d lift me
thigh to head as a waterspout

gypsy swung, volgarizzamento
a shimmer of flesh
sprung from lines dropped on the library floor

you see, breath itself entraps

choked in a side chamber
they judge us who don’t harm

tracing our fate in a twisted spill
when really we glide, wrapped in a snow-flame cocoon

* * * * *

Follow the evidence to keep from losing
your smell and taste

who ever listens to conjurers—we’re not
picking each other’s scabs like the scales of a bream,
we’re not stretched on a slab in an underground corridor

Mr or Mrs God in chemtrail verse
is trying to set you right with a rhubarby stick

come-close, go-away, clap and sack

a glass of wine is the brim of the whole world,
only then can you wring consent

* * * * *

Goldenmouth’s grease yields to a cluster of cases
that can’t be concealed

his eleven-mile pouch is one ghostly theremin,
a foreboding of what is known—
the dead lining up to mosey and zigzag
with not a saint to swear by

in another take it’s a forest of lampposts with hanging bulbs

a club under the railway arch
will let you dance if you get a wristband
rave-tranced with a fog machine

uniform is king behind a padlocked door

you’ll wear a trench in the ground
swirling—what was first, the noun or the verb
moiling why others should do it—
steal a kiss with numb lips

if the shutters are down
do we have to fuck with our coats on

never, ever, no never, no

* * * * *

Leaders squeeze chums through any defile,
their swish of gold turning to a trudge of lead

just a misdemeanour will lift you to the other house
and no printer will print it

if one partied hard telling people to keep apart,
if one chose wallpaper with a favour wiped,
if one crossed borders telling people to stay put

could they say
what a tree means or a pool
inscribed in biro with a coffee stain
under a cloud of banknotes

start-up saviours for a sausage roll
or a punk pint
have absent fingers to build the rescue model

* * * * *

Can you read the way as your face melts

plodding with a guide to the last bound, or maybe
the closest

there to finger a lancet in grey rock
and climb through

(I strive to make blighted speech work again)

is this what we knew when it wasn’t an act
and things just existed

a chain of gold threaded through the air,
streets and stairs peaking in a parade of planets
which fire livelier than a devil or middle spirit’s show

now we soul-search the dawn
remembering how each watch changes

a scar in a lilac leaf, almost whole

as in nitrate gaps
the credits roll



‘Silent Inferno’ is from an ongoing pandemic sequence, as yet untitled. Other pieces have appeared in Stride magazine, Blackbox Manifold and Tears in the Fence. The work draws extensively on plague literature.

Gavin Selerie was born in London, where he still lives. Books include Azimuth (1984), Roxy (1996), Le Fanu’s Ghost (2006) and Hariot Double (2016)—all long sequences with linked units. Music’s Duel: New and Selected Poems 1972-2008 was published in 2009 and Collected Sonnets in 2019 (both from Shearsman). These texts often have a concrete aspect, as discussed in the essay ‘Ekphrasis and Beyond: Visual Art in Poetry’ (Junction Box 2). Cinema is a recurring reference point. Selerie is known particularly for poems about landscape and romantic love, utilizing traditional and experimental form. His texts layer and loop aspects of history, with a strong vocal dynamic. A related essay, ‘Long Haul Voices: The Book Length Poem’, was published in Long Poem Magazine 25 (Spring 2021). A book-length interview, Into the Labyrinth, is available online at › INTO THE LA...



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