Two poems by Peter Raynard

Redefining Progress

The land man’s drone hovers over his slavering selection
of pigs before their poke. The trough is a circle of pink arses –
like a ring of buffet prawns – snuffling at the feed, the filth
of mud-stuck trotters in a competition of grunts & steam.

My father wedges his pale pink difference between the main
hog and its lieutenant. Noshes on, keeping his four hundred mile
stomach up with appearances. He cannot be certain of timings,
snaffles the pellets of protein down his constricted throat.

The consumption is furious in its disgust, in its fear of an ending.
On and on, this revolution of fattening, this group, this round,
feeding themselves towards their own St Martin’s day menu
of tongue, cheek, belly, loin, rasher, chop, chop, chop, filling

this bulging, craven earth with its burning bowels splashing
onto cracked heels, as we eat from the palm of opulent fiction.

Placebo Addict

It always feels better when you’ve thrown up, right
now, where was I?       what I was going to start

off by saying is, the mood I’m in, you can take
or leave the torn edges of my body, it’s the insides

that       sorry, had to take a nap. My spine
can’t sit for long, reshapes the chair into something

it doesn’t recognise, so I need to lay it out, right.
Let’s try to make this as quick as possible, violence

is a cure not a giveaway, short sharp slices, warmth like pissing
yourself on the last bus until,       oh wait, the hospital

just cancelled on me, so we’re okay. Started aged sixteen
maybe a bit before that, let me look at my notes, yes

last rites, nurse strike, autoimmune dismissal
of fight and flight. It doesn’t leave you like recovery

it moves on, searching blindly through the dark
biological waters, basking in its first kill. You will

have to forgive me.       There are times when
nothing is the best form of expression, though thoughts

keep churning away, the hum of a fridge at work
preserving the body’s contents until the next in line

decay, which is, daaa, de, da, da, that strawberry gland
stuck-in-the- throat thyroid, knows how to throw a cell party,

gets those atoms shaking       Break       Back from the walk,
routine is a route in that requires work, concentration,

endurance, none of which are a running flush. Twenty years apart,
an endo’s assonances point to a finish line the same distance away

as any other template.       They are like our blind shark
hunting for understanding, cross-stitching facts with faces.

The pituitary, micro testicles nestling at the crossroads
of the temple and the eye aye, aye, this stopped shooting too.

There is no natural narrative to it all, it is carved out
chaotically, from the depths of another psychotic season,

concrete marrow, arthritic elbows with attitude. Poke me.       Hello?
Are you still there?       I wouldn’t blame you if you were.

Peter Raynard is the editor of Proletarian Poetry: poems of working class lives. He has written two books of poetry – his debut collection Precarious (Smokestack Books, 2018) and The Combination: a poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto (Culture Matters, 2018). Twitter @ProletarianPoet