Two poems by Tristram Fane Saunders

 
 
Poem in which there are hooves

Greg, gently mashing the keys of a Steinway.
Or Greg, brow furrowed, struggling to grasp
a toothbrush, album, cup. Now Greg in bed:
listen for the unconsolable clop

that comes each night before his prayers.
Unhappy Greg, remembering the touch
of things, people. His mother’s face.
Has he not suffered? Has he not served his time?

Then we shall help him. Slowly lift your arms
into this poem, into Greg’s small room,
into his sleeping body. Take his hooves
and wear them. Look, it’s not so bad.

Try to come to terms with them, the hooves.
The uncompromising fact of them, unfeeling
as woodwork. Four uncrackable lumps
of keratin; hard, staccato, blunt.

I had them for a moment. Greg
had his for three stanzas. You will keep them
until the day when, thumbless, you remaster
the knack of how to turn a page.
 
 
 
Orpheus

            your girl she likes you, she thinks you’re nice

Battered by fate, his syncopated heart
a cowbell quickstep, clattering across
that final minute of Ain’t Misbehavin’,

            got what it takes to be in paradise

Mister Waller always kept it easy.
So come the final softshoe shuffle, Fats
just knew he wouldn’t even have to try.

            from your ankle up, I’ll say you sure are sweet

Although without a two-way pass, he found
his too-big feet – so used to faltering,
mere ugly duckfeet on our flat, square ground

            from there down there’s too much feet, oh my

– had precisely the surface-area-to-volume stats
to sidestep Charon, waltz across the water,
and waddle back again, his pinstripes dry.
 
 
 
 
Tristram Fane Saunders is 24 years old, and lives in Penge, South London. He writes about pop culture for The Telegraph, having worked as a radio critic for Radio Times and as a tea salesman in street-markets across London. He is the author of two chapbooks: Intro #5 (Nasty Little Press, 2013) and Postcards from Sulpicia (Tapsalteerie, 2015), a translation of the surviving works of Sulpicia, Ancient Rome’s only extant female poet. Twitter @TATFS