The Sun Behind the Sun, Tom SharpPeachy coloured background. Full title lower case centred in the top band. Words from the title then drift into the cover in various places but somewhat faded. There are three 'the's for example. The final Sun is in the bottom right hand corner and it has a faded version of itself just behind (the sun behind the sun). All the lettering is in gold.

Illustration, Tal Brosh    Design,The Beautiful Meme

2018      £5.00 from The Hammerwich Working

Considering the colour blue

The Sun Behind the Sun explores experience and love. Love is held in our second heart, behind the ‘dull-beat, dull brown meat’ of the innocent physical organ. These abstract second hearts ‘glitter blue’ and contain multitudes.

Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age is a good place to start when considering blue. In it, William Gladstone (yes, that Gladstone) posited that the Ancient Greeks could not perceive the colour. Homer’s description of ‘the wine-dark sea’ is the most famous example of this collective blindness. The theory is that blue was one of the last colours that humanity understood, so is intrinsically linked with language, labelling and culture.

Fittingly, this flesh-coloured pamphlet hides an aquamarine flysheet. In the title poem Tom Sharp describes the blueness of the hidden heart with a mesmerising stream of contradictory and complementary images:

Mirror blue, Plath’s gas-jet blue,
a coffin-cut teddy-boy suit blue,
chipped winter-lips and vertigo blue.
A pre-ruled blue.

These lines start on the wrong foot, then land a memento mori on the chin with 'Plath's gas-jet blue'. This leads into another complex funerary image (‘coffin-cut’), followed by the corpse lips and reeling unknowable nature of 'vertigo', before the even-handed parallel lines of the copybook recall both school days and the sharp ‘teddy-boy’ suit two lines before.

Then things get interesting.

                         A horse-dick blue.
An unclouded, tiddlywink, bar-sign blue,
a cheese-vein and blue-tit blue.

The startling ‘horse-dick’ pirouettes into the Stilton and bird-breast. It’s a sort of abject sleight of hand that leaves me ill-prepared for elephant headed Ganesha swinging into view in the next line: ‘A Ganesha blue, ozone blue, crow blue’. The whole stanza feels like a verbal Rorschach test.

After Gladstone, a man called Lazarus Geiger scoured Icelandic, Hindu, Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew texts for blues and found none. How did the ancients see the sky? Most likely as a shade of green.

The collapsing chain of blueness in The Sun Behind the Sun disintegrates into even finer descriptions of glimmering emotions, like ‘a clump of telescoped stars’ and ‘light-smashed autumn water’. Blue becomes less a colour and more a state of mind, the universe understanding itself.

We’re not sure what colour dark matter is, but it’s probably blue.

Donal Ó Callanáin