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‘Untitled, 1974,
 by Roger Hilton’

                                                                after Jacques Prévert

There is no body.
The thing corkscrews
out of confusion
like an avian army knife,
all beak and wing. The brushstrokes
are the bold blue of the sky
the wings might fly through
if they were flying, but the sky
is pure white—it is as white
as paper, perhaps.
It belches a little
between gluts of paint.

Under a charcoal smudge
that suggests a crest
the beak forgets
the point of elegance.
The blue thing dips
its curious tip
as if to drink, but overbalances.
The eye—a target
not a tool—
slides down the face
then hesitates.

It watches him
striving to move within
those denser elements—
slurry of spirits,
the June night—
a recalcitrant brush
in his right, in his wrong hand:
painting feet as branches,
painting legs like nothing on earth,
painting the head a mortar, within which
grinds and grinds a pestle neck,
painting the thing all wing.

It watches him sign
across the fading halo
of a coffee ring.

Nancy CAMPBELL’s books include How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic (winner of the Birgit Skiöld Award), Disko Bay (shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2016 and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2017) and a memoir, The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate.


The image is excerpted from the hardback “Archive of Modern Conflict” edition of Night Letters: ‘Blue Bird’ [Gouache, June 1974], p. 183.


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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