Two Poems by James Appleby


The Amazon, Before We Were Deported

The scrapheap of a restaurant breeds skinks,
neon fungus. No one watches. No one else is new.
When the mosquito net is tied at night, no one is shocked
by the orchestra tuning outside: nightjar, potoo,
belched toad-song, a single cricket like an unoiled hinge,
the trillion doors of the forest opening and opening.
Nothing stops at the cabin: geckoes
screeching bedside on the roach-hunt;
the owner of feet under the mattress, no one says.
In Spanish it sounds right: it morninged.
Now, all over – morninged! No time to make
a face for the spray of the boat trip, fumes of the outboard
like a heady plant, deeper and deeper into an unknown
everyone else knows so well they hardly look.
Cans, magazines, these go so far downstream
you find them shackled to the jetty legs.
Heat swarms in your ears, the Spanish
showing words of Tupi like a frog peering out of a tap.
Nothing here stays nothing. Pink dolphin, beak a pole of teeth,
break the river’s snakeskin. When it nights,
the water hoards two times the fireflies,
a caiman’s reflection jointed to the jaw.

Glass Between Front and Back Cover

Someone has taken a scalpel to that house
sheared a cell-thick layer from the front
bared it to the street. Each passer-by
tours their rooms from the road.
Moon so close you see the footprints,
breath fuming like an idle car.
I’ve also noticed how the image lags
on a neighbour’s television – at distance
cuts appear in that smooth photo flow –
how screenlight blues a face, how glasses
project a film from the lens, too small to watch.

Not just me reading windows. Friends,
as if admitting something shameful,
tell me they look into houses at night,
living a moment in that home, then go,
double-quick in case they’re seen.
No creeps, no one to hide in bushes,
just, I think, the urge to open books
at random on library shelves.

About the Author

James Appleby is the editor of Interpret Magazine. He was commended in the 2021 McLellan Poetry Competition; his work has appeared in Poetry Scotland and others. He was born in 1993.

Image Rights

Post photograph by Karl Callwood (Unsplash).

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