The Poet’s Deliberation on the State of the Nation
Andrew Darlington
70 pp.
Penniless Press

Andrew Darlington wants to shake the fluff and lies out his poems and get down to business.  He word-pummels trickery and exposes modern day culture for what it is:  Insanity dressed in flags and where everything is for sell including human lives. 

In the first poem “If the Pump Don’t Work, Don’t Vandalise the Handle…” the “poem” represents the negative side and raw truth of society.   This “poem” is a rogue, a bigot, obscene images and a murdered child…!  This poem also makes fun of the reader .  “I don’t like this poem / or anyone who reads it, /this poem is just a stream of meaningless/ images with no literary merit, / don’t waste your time reading it, / you’ve got better things to do / with your life than reading it, / this poem is expendable….”  Here is a way to express frustration without pointing fingers at the real culprits.  The poem takes the blame.  You can’t argue with ink !

In “Manifesto” the “poem” becomes an instrument of defiance, bravery and hope. The writer wants “poems that belch from / industrial chimneys showering / cities with syllables, / poems that thumb noses./ I want poems that slum children / can play with in gutters.”

In “If I wasn’t a Poet” the poem becomes an anchor to sanity. “if I wasn’t a poet I’d be a serial killer…/ driven by the malign compass of strange tides / in the inky surface of long lunar nights”

In “Children of the Atom” takes a look backwards on the decades on nuclear insanity. “we do not softly go into / that nuclear night, but ‘Howl’ in / amped-up Cold War sonic mayhem,” and also begins to reflect on his age. “and now, through the / isotope-decay of my years / my hair’s thinning, eyes dimming, / teeth’ll be next, rad-count setting in, / finally getting me, like I always /knew it would…”

In “Modernday Primitives” the poet contemplates love. “love is the / 9-year 10-month 13-day commitment / that ends after 1300 enactments of love, / in bed, standing up, from behind, in the bath / in the kitchen, in mild bondage, in suspenders / interrupted by premature ejaculation or by / Mormon missionaries, 17 in cars, 120 oral, / 53 in Hotels, 2 attempted anal, / 25 in the garden, 3 on the beach, / then some furtively with / other partners, then separated by long /emptinesses of remorse and insomnia, / until it’s no more, and you’d give / anything for just one of those / 1300 lost copulations //  it’s exchanges of spores and bodily /fluids, and yet it’s not the only fruit // sometimes I don’t understand it //  yet still I love you  // whatever //that means”

In “The Poet’s Address on the Nation State” the poet is a verbal activist for humanity, opposed to the artifices of state.  “cross out ‘United Kingdom’, / refuse to inhabit a ‘kingdom’, / a kingdom is a fairyland Disney-cartoon / escapist drug of magical lies, unrealities, / and mystic dreamtime elitist / shit-royalist symbolism for / subservience and defeat”   “Patriotism... is the egg from / which wars are hatched”- Guy de Maupassant

In the final poem “Terms and Conditions Apply”  once again the poem is a persona for whatever you would like the poem to be.  It promises nothing, implies you get what you pay for….or not…as this offer may be withdrawn at any time without prior notice.  

you are reading the basic version of this poem,
both poet & publisher trust you will derive
full satisfaction from the poem-experience
however, are you aware for a negligible extra fee
(for three, six or nine-month contract periods)
you can upgrade and enjoy the benefits of Silver Level
with the poem available in a range of ink-colours
(subject to PMS specification & availability)
lasered onto high-quality stock (lamination optional)
with five-mm extra border space & Fonts-U-Like
or upgrade further to Gold Level
(at Pay-As-You-Read or Rolling Direct Debit Top-Ups)
to gain privileged instant verse-access to tablet or iPhone
fast-tracked at least 5-mins in advance of other poetry-consumers,
with wifi connectivity & complimentary bonus features
including deleted stanzas, alternate lines & blooper out-takes,
it’s the poem-solution designed with you in mind
or upgrade to full luxury Platinum Level
& have the poem delivered on silver salver by
chauffeur-driven Merc as the poet him/herself
reads the exclusive composition in the comfort of
your own home or conservatory.
This offer is subject to Terms & Conditions
& may be withdrawn at any time without prior notice

Reviewed by Belinda Subraman