Chris Emery's 'Snails'

are death’s pale eccentrics, the poets of disgust, they
bring their great sadness to the shelves, to the world.
They are the lethargy every husband chews on in his sleep, biting his cheeks.
You can fit one thousand of their tiny mouths beneath your eyelid.
They spend the bloodless night mouthing the word “oracle”
beside the fuming pumps. The outlets gargle around their grey supper.
Why are they all called Tony or Erasmus or King Nacre?
Tonight they will extinguish all the red dresses of the world,
then weigh out all the bones of the ear
and pile them into wigwams in the wet dirt of the village.
They keep trying to form this mighty ending
that shimmers grey and frazzled above the velvet seats
of the cinemas in all the gardens; except they never end.
They are slowly weighing up the cruises of the children now.
Their appearance is like a secret circus act that doesn’t stop.
They break into all the graves beneath the peonies and salsify.
Tonight we will pile them, pile everything of them
into the whorl of a bucket and then we will fill it
to the top with the forest of tears and let the silence do its work.

*Chris Emery lives in Cromer with his wife and children. He is studying Creative Writing at UEA and is a director of Salt, an independent literary press. His work was anthologised in Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010).

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