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In which I am a little smug: Magma 49

March 11, 2011

So, in the post this morning I received three shiny new copies of Magma 49. And boy howdy, do they make use of their paper. The whole thing is positively stuffed, cover-to-cover, with poems, reviews and articles. I’ve barely even made a dent in it and, I’m not going to lie, it’s tough not to keep flipping back to gawp at my own poem, Bowerbirds, in print (and illustrated!).

But that’s not to say I haven’t been reading it while suspending my own disbelief at getting a poem into Magma (I mean really, I’m only little). And so far, what I’ve seen has been bloody good. There’s a nice balance of known and lesser-known writers in here, and a refreshing array of voices. One of my favourites so far is that of Michelle Paramanantham‘s this’s just to say, which beautifully captures the sheepishness of  a small child confessing to stealing. Seriously, it’s adorable.

There is a gorgeous lyrical texture to Antday by Kona Macphee — the images force their way out of the text and into your head like, well, ants into an anthill. Penelope Shuttle‘s To the distant beloved is a quietly gut-wrenching apostrophe, which proves that poems about love and loss can still be surprising, hilarious and devastating without descending into sentimentality. D A Prince offers a down-to-earth look into the life of a supermarket cashier that smacks of mortality and generational anxieties with There you go!

Honestly, it’s great stuff, and I’m humbled to find myself included. To be honest, the magazine is worth buying just for Jo Bell‘s article on poetry in the built environment, which makes me want to carve lines of Edwin Morgan and Jarvis Cocker into every wall I see.

My favourite poem so far, though, has to be by showcased poet Jon Stone. Rather than rabbit on about it, though, I’ll let the poem speak for itself:


And why do you want to work for the Secret Service?


So that I can show up at your door,

soaked as Shelley, face half-masked in blood,

seven months from now, when things get dire.

I’ll ask to use the phone, then make a thud

— semi wet sack, semi fumbled spud —

collapsing as I reach for the receiver

and sink at once into a storm-rich fever.


And in my fever, half-formed sentences

in such a swirl of languages will spill,

like diamonds from a slit purse or the slurs

of water from an overburdened pail

or tortured faucet, from my mouth’s bashed grill.

And some of it will be intelligence.

And some of it you’ll think makes too much sense.


Since some of it will be just what you dreamt

of us, our future, dog-drunk at your post —

our long weekends abroad, the early Klimt

in a palace in a town near Bucharest,

muralling the film-projector-blessed

Sala de Teatru, where we pause

for half a reel of Rashomon, half of Jaws.


Or at a Czech zoo, watching otters stuff

their semi-feline mouths, one muching on

half a crayfish while the unmunched half

weakly plays piano upside down,

its jelly oozing silver in the sun.

And somewhere in that jelly — vital organs.

And somewere in my babbly, talk of dragons.


In seven days, I’ll finally come round.

Not knowing your bed or room, I’ll try to bolt

but you being there, you’ll intercept mid-bound

and down I’ll go, like something shoddily built.

You’ll tumble with me and we two will melt

into a single entity, half urgent

messenger of night, half secret agent.

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