Poacher, Lenni SandersThe colour of the jacket is predominantly blue. It has a design of overlapping leaves, perhaps the leaves of large ferns, and these are very dark blue, with white edging, and behind them a dark turquoisey green. The title is centred in very large caps, which are white. Below them in very small white or grey lower case it says 'Poems by Lenni Saunders'. No other text or logo on the jacket.

The Emma Press, 2019    £6.50

Insect, asides

The lead character in CSI: Las Vegas, Gil Grissom, was a man of science and other learning. He also happened to be an entomologist. I have a feeling this pamphlet would very much appeal to him: there are bugs and creepy crawlies everywhere inside the covers.

For example, there are ‘midges’ that ‘hover in their clouds’ in ‘Sheanimal’, not to mention the ants (and more midges) of ‘Anteater Kid’. I loved the sounds contained within this last poem, the esses and tees and pees of the piece, the words that require lots of tongue movements:

There is a reason why I always look
on the cusp of speech: my tongue
throttling long behind my teeth. See me
kneel in the city park at night,
scrawling my tongue in the grass.
See the ants stick to it and dot me
with black stars. See me kneeling deep
in my morselling prayer.

Elsewhere, there are mentions of beetles in ‘Dumbstruck, the king’, and more explicitly in the title of ‘Assassin bug, with ants’. However, for me the ultimate insect poem here is ‘bug bite’. Despite its subject matter, it feels to me like a love poem, as well as a consideration of the relative merits of town/countryside; marriage/single life;  and other oppositions:

hot out in your father’s garden
tethered insects float like loud balloons
unable to go much forward, much back or follow me

Is the father separated from a partner? I think so, as it makes what follows all the more lovely. The narrator wakes up to discover the swelling of a tick bite:

big enough you could set it in a ring
and marry me with it: a raw eye
that blinks my blood to the surface
in morse code for


I itch, like a full moon in clouds.

This poem (and this whole pamphlet) seems rich with people at odds with their locations, themselves, each other, and nature. It made me want to launch some loud balloons just for the hell of it. That’s the mark of a fine poet.  

Mat Riches