MARTYN CRUCEFIX has won numerous prizes including a major Eric Gregory award and a Hawthornden Fellowship. He has published 7 collections of poetry including Hurt (Enitharmon, 2010): “an exceptional ear…superbly intelligent…urgent, heartfelt, controlled and masterful.” (Kathryn Maris, Poetry London). His translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies (Enitharmon, 2006) was shortlisted for the Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation and hailed as “unlikely to be bettered for very many years” (Magma). His translation of Rilke’s The Sonnets to Orpheus appeared from Enitharmon in 2012. Recent original collections include The Time We Turned (Shearsman, 2014), A Hatfield Mass (Worple Press, 2014) and Daodejing – a new version in English will be published in 2016. Martyn’s website is and he tweets @mcrucefix.


Hatched inside
after Goya

Only with heat do they come
weighing their gauzy wings

little more than infants
with compound eyes for a vertical

scaling door-jamb and clothes-horse
chair-leg and children’s shins

in black helmets in hundreds
in their slim-waisted suits

intrepid tar-black angels
every one an exile

driven to flight—baffled
denied their instinct for open air

given only puzzling suns
spots of this interior space

they target them instead
go colliding twisting a slither

on fire-poles reeling sudden
into unforgiving furniture

to materialise on sleeves
where you curse them

these black splinters ash-lumps
micro-devils on horseback

fearing each plop and parachute
roll of landfall to be crushed

systematically undone
every charcoal pilot

each tiny winged hoodlum
drummed to a finish between pairs

of fine opposable thumbs
lovely long white fingers

snatch and twist and sheer
husk rooms dim toward nightfall

with drizzling storms of dry
black busy old testament corn




On two or three occasions each day
four donkeys in the field below the house

set up such a braying for all to hear
their broadcasting of guttural chest noise

alternating on the in-breath
with such a screech in the throat

and this is the noise of the twisted bolt
to the abandoned cellar beneath the house

its long thin penis-length
of rusted orange-brown worked up and down

in its cradle to reach a squalling pitch
till it can be loosened and drawn

and these are the sounds I hear at dawn
of ageing Yves about the wood-pile

his fleshy shoulders pumping a saw
remote in the silence of a hard-pressed man

the throaty growl of metal on the back stroke
more of a squeal each time he leans in



On Stukeley Street

In passing at the corner I find a pile of rags
that stinks of no-one’s urine

but his own…this ragged man and what
impulse is this to stop and stare

as he scans the map spread before him
as he turns to the hundred and fifth degree

to the Northwest Territories—
to them he raises shrivelled arms

as if to lift and tense an unseen bow
to them he pulls back and still further back

till with a delicate touch
on his blackened ear-lobe suddenly lets go

to Yellowknife to Inuvik
to the Great Bear and the Great Slave

to the Mackenzie river to what his outward eye
has never seen to what he’d bring

crashing down upon this dry street
all the cold the blue the unconditional flood


If you wish to read the poems in page view, the following link will take you to a PDF – Martyn Crucefix Poems

All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.


  1. Marvellous – will share this around – best wishesmartyn  Most recent blog: and Events: 02083486440 / Mob:07943328666

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

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