Todd is the poetry editor for Nthposition featured in this issue


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Contributor Notes

Todd Swift Todd Swift

Everything Now Is Very Close

Is a novel Venn wishes he wrote;
Oftener than not tonight, a tweezer

Has him by the throat; in fact, less
Than that slight instrument: a furnace

In a tumbler, an ice pick of gin,
Tonic held, and no ice, either,

This far into the expedition; confess?
Venn wouldn't mind, but no place

To stumble into, rain-displayed,
To face the music of a violence

His mind, or silk double-knotted tie,
Have never made. He's in

For the evening, and what a one to be
Contained inside: it holds, a vice

Or more like a line before a bank,
But is quietly mythic yet pandemic

In a way that ancient things don't spread.
His type-faced ruins form about

Him like letters from the dead: rejections;
Even here, underneath, he's unwanted

But pretends to persevere. Venn's
Ideal is a pretty model in a department

Store, kind enough to share a date,
Maybe then another. On such an occasion

He'd take Miss Dander's arm, break
With custom and take a vaguer route,

To reach a green-chipped bench, dark
On the edge of an even darker lake.

He'd like it said he said something to her
At that juncture, quite riveting, unique;

Pointed to an object nameless until then;
Or stirred her self to images of marriage,

Or what desires pass for the fashion.
Instead, she's home, he's an anecdote

For her homelier room-mate; the manuscript
Venn's only bed, in which he lies, before

An unlit Zenith; a line of nicotine ornate.
It's in the core and tip, and on the tongue,

And in the air, and what the air stirs on,
And in the tangle of her hair; the mittens

Lined with fur he handled as a boy
To walk in winter, and collect the snow.


Be honest, or if not honest, earnest;
Or if not earnest, then extravagant. But win
That argument with rhetoric
Or opaque delicacies flown in from Japan;

Eat raw with chopsticks or go play Chopin
With manicured fingers, in a forest fire, son.
Walk out of the field intact, or sinecured.
Never innovate to get ahead of the game.

The game can also be played in silences,
Like a shade glimmering on a mandarin pool
In which golden and silver fish both unspool.
Truth, recall, was not ever beautiful until

It was said to be. And that was romantic.
Romance is the falling scarlet leaf,
Her lips after the reddest lipstick is applied,
His feet in shoes that are black, tightly tied.

We sense that most nostalgia best
Redeems its origins in magazines.
I swoon for what was once seen clearly;
What has been early. These images exceed

Language, process, science, and all degrees.
Send out pictures of my wife/my boy.
In the circumstances, they will withstand
The unspeaking sub-frost and devoid entrances.

Brush her hair or cross the street with him.
Feel the sensuous vim of flesh as it moves.
To be beside such ones was once a lion's share
Of all my conjectures of life/our joy.

Universal Travel

The train station is back there.
Farther on into the quiet
Town, tree-lined avenues
Guide like manicured fingers
To the heart of blindness.

That would be the square
With its unorthodox churches,
Town Hall, and Museum
Of Photography. Every colour
Has moved here, like war-torn

Refugees poured into a camp.
Here they flood up the walls.
Orange, purple, wild greens,
Yellow and several shades of red
Up and down the walls.

But it is the absence of anyone
Who speaks a native tongue
That leads to blindness. Only
The sun presents itself as universal.
No one will so much as serve

An ice cream without elaborate
Signs and gestures. Sadness
Invaded this world once.
The men, dressed like circus
Attendants, move as if their bones

Had been broken in a net-less fall.
They spit gobs the colour of the walls.
It'd be nice to become a local citizen.
To learn to spit and mimic like them.
Learn their sad religion. To marry

Here, and send five children to
The purple school. To visit the
Photographs in the old museum.
It would be central to one's vocation
To assume a new identity here

At once, unfold a beige suit,
Take off Shipton & Heneage shoes
And wait for the sun to set behind
The aquamarine church
With the spires that might not be

Christian. To go through life
With Penelope, one's lawfully
Wedded wife, to see five children
Off to the wars and festivals,
To bury the family, and widowed,

Spit against a grey-green wall
Mind emblazoned with inspiration:
This was where all art was,
All passion, and all dust, all
Through the long slow century.


Sing of light fixtures
All neutral regions
Fear of horses
Malarial dispersion

Victory is on the wing
Chickens roost hooters
Break the fast especial K.
Considerate approval

Jealous gods on top
Glamour models gone bad
Speak white of mere mortal women
Fear of asphyxiation

Vectors to be considered
Ships to the breakers
Man oars to the slaughter
Loin kings come home, broad way

Fair haired daughter
Fear of fair hair
Daughter dot com, cross Ts
Goddess bust this nut and bolt

Fiery thunder and lightning too
Much clashing of arms
Venus has no arms, ignorant
Wake me when you drown

Keel, one-eyed monster
Fear of being blinded by heroes
Basophilic plague
Trajectories of mass inoculation

The arms of hollow children
Small pox craft warning
War makes good neighbours
Nanny nonny ho hey ho nay

The clash and gong of mucho malice
Sudden armistice brass
Brash inconclusivities, band of bros.
Shaved vulvas and Vulcan mandates

Members section restricted
Proxy pass log in blocked
Fuck off your ISP has been noted
Hack this firewall on Mount Olympus!

Hail, Greek shipping magnates
Date Deneuve, denude olives
Much confusion of gold plates at Georges 5
Take this sweet stuff for your opium habit

Eat, plunge 5 stories, can you relate?
Tell me what Dad did at Troy
Fear of Christ in the firmament, like blood
Is this wood or Memorable ex?

Wake the Kraken when we arrive
Swaddle thy goatherd in agony aunts
Miss lonely-hearts impaled on a spear
They call me Archer

How the wings beat about the girl
Her vulgate dot com busts
At the boom of the tenderloin god
Whose prows thrust into wine dawn

Wind down now, squabble mutants
About the real nature of Xavier
Hollander and Commandant Quisling
What the age demanded it got:

{I, Maximum, give you damage
You, Andreas Marvell, nothing nothing
Nothing at all, note that, Hermione
With this petal on the bow black out

Cut her hair like a Jap bowl
Let the monkeys on the island
Cry the name of Helen and Paris
Burn baby burn or at least tan}

I come to re-marry my wife and kill
The myriad antagonistic suitors
Dry cleaning bills, wet machines
Fear of contraception

SARS is not coprophilia
But we can do a deal
The shudder of the return to dry land