4 Poems by /Tim Atkins

Edited by : Giorgia Pavlidou and Mohsen Elbelasy

Tim Atkins has been a member of the summer faculty at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, and a member of Carla Harryman’s Poets’ Theatre in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including Atkins Collected Petrarch (a Times Literary Supplement and Salon.com book of the year), Deep Osaka (a photobook), Koto Y Yo (all from Crater Press), On Fathers < On Daughtyrs (Boiler House Press), 25 Sonnets (The Figures), Petrarch (Book Thug), and Horace (O Books). He is also the author of a play: The World’s Furious Song Flows Through My Skirt (Stoma Press), and a novel The Bath-Tub (forthcoming from Boiler House Press). He has read and performed his work in the Houses of Parliament (for Pussy Riot), in concert at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and all over North America and Europe. His work has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Catalan, French, and Lithuanian. Mother—a collaborative film-poem made with Graeme Maguire was a finalist at the Cyclop International Videopoetry Festival and at the Rabbit Heart Film festival in 2014. His poems have appeared in many anthologies, including The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem (2018) The Reality Street Book of the Sonnet, and Faber’s The Thunder Mutters (edited by Alice Oswald). The founder and editor of the long-running international online poetry journal, onedit, Tim teaches Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. His current work is the long poem NOTHING CONCLUSIVE HAS YET TAKEN PLACE IN THE WORLD THE ULTIMATE WORD OF THE WORLD AND ABOUT THE WORLD HAS NOT YET BEEN SPOKEN THE WORLD IS OPEN AND FREE EVERYTHING IS STILL IN THE FUTURE AND WILL ALWAYS BE and sections are appearing in poetry journals in the USA, the UK, and Canada. A collaboration with his daughter, Yuki Lily Matsubayashi Atkins, A Girl Is A Machine Made Of Birds is just out from Canary Woof Press.

books covers


You write it down and there it is

When you are writing a poem

And you are thinking there is nothing

When you are writing a poem

There is not the same potential for variation

You write it down and there it is that’s the version

Or else you delete that version and replace it with another

It’s almost like erasing the knowledge that appears

Rather than representing it because the knowledge

Properly understood consists in the future potential variability

Of the detail and the whole narration

Film copy clouds the landscape

The moment thinking stops and you are left with repetition

Beginning and ending with questions concerning the whole narrative

What makes you think then that knowledge appears

As opposed to ignorance

Or perhaps error is just as much knowledge

When you are writing a poem by Ovid

Making use of the face to indicate heightened states

With electronic props to see into the future

There is not the same potential for variation

When you are writing a poem beside the black sea

On the edge of an invisible empire with goozleum glasses

Your magical power is a language-based approach to culture

Race and gender conflated or contrasting periods

With no central character combined with that of invisibility

And this is what the poem as an achieved object directly abolishes

Masters a master plan the master discourse and the master race

There is nothing more beautiful than this and

There is nothing more beautiful than there are more beautiful things than Beyonce

You write it down and there it is

It gets to the point that you read things you cannot repeat

It gets to the point that you read things

You cannot repeat about love not because

You have forgotten but because you remember

There is nothing else in your head left to think about which you don’t want

And you don’t want the point in the book where it says

You are a man because you think

You have no place in the new world

Because of all that you did in the old

And you are both angry and confused

But you have already said that

The world is filled with so much content that most of it

Spills over the sides and you go out and teach that

The world is improved when you say that

The world has form you asshole

But it does not

Think about the combative nature of all discourse

And you wonder what right you have to be a statistic

Upon social media broadcasting your minority or diminishing tastes

You prefer the word spirits when thinking of humans

When you think about the development of the seven blade razor

And the tampon tax

Patti Smith said Rimbaud said something on cassette

About the future belonging to women

Every time you look in he mirror

Doesn’t #metoo include every woman ?

And all daughters #mesoon ?

You wanted your love to approximate song

And you wanted your poetry to touch everyone

But that were wrong

All the time

You spend your days writing

Watch your daughters

Growing older

And puke in a book

For the second noble truth of the Buddha the Buddha

Shakyamuni Gotama spoke

The second noble truth

Out of four

The line runs something something

About suffering and attachment

Suffering coming due to life in its nature being

Unsatisfactory or imperfect

Like a house at an angle or cracked and when

You think about your writing

And all the places

You read it

And were happiest—

In a snowstorm with Michael Gizzi

In Gulf of Maine Books

In the disappearing light

To three humans and two dogs

Nobody with a tie gives a fuck

You have to face facts at some point in your life

In the seas of South London

You think about who you could ask for forgiveness and you make a list

And you start crossing names off

Because the hero of the problem of the content material and form

Cannot determine the difference between life and art

Your poems of crossing allowed you to leave something and become something other

In your more conceptual pieces it is helpful and more dangerous

Having had knowledge to discard it

In your moments of doubt it is impossible to make love and not produce knowledge

Oh which is a revolutionary action

Being bored or being boring before the invention of neon

You are doing something for the futures of all men and women

There is cold brew coffee to keep you awake

You loved the dictionary and making things up and

You loved coming back to the city after Christmas in the country

And an end to white faces

And you loved entering squats and housing co-ops

You loved making badges and going on protests

And you thought the world could always be good if only

You could be good and refract social progress

You thought about the benefits of psychosomatic drugs

There were things in your life which up till that point in the history of humankind

Could never exist

Giraffes and anglerfish haptic writing and cameras

The world changes when you ejaculate you once wrote

As a carrier of an ideological position and not as a mere formal resource

You go down in parks because you are supposed to

The natural world is before you and all the good people

In hospitals who used to do good dying no wonder

There are people on the streets sleeping under newspapers

We believed that it was okay to go to our beds and

That it was okay to dream of new music

But all over the world a part of it is dark growing darker

And inside it there is a secret secret service

Which never sleeps


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