ROB A. MACKENZIE is from Glasgow and lives in Leith. His most recent collection is The Good News (Salt Publishing, 2013). His poems, reviews and articles have appeared in many publications and he is reviews editor for Magma Poetry magazine. With Louise Peterkin, he is co-editing an anthology of poems inspired by the novels of Muriel Spark, which will be published this autumn. He is currently midway through writing 21 poems, one for each chapter of the Book of Revelation. The first three chapters of this project are published by Adjacent Pineapple here


From The Book of Revelation

Chapter 6
“The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up.” (v.14)

Hear what has been written, and then unwritten:
        hoofmark glyphs the rain translates into
schmaltz. Here come the sentimental gutter-
        snoops with choreography in mind

for hoofmark glyphs their spin translates
       into dance routines by plastic rocking horses.
Snipes, with cryptography in mind,
      beat out sarcastic drumrolls overhead.

Dance routines by Nazi rocking horses
      belie illusion. The liberal cognoscenti
threaten the cast with dumbbells to the head,
      breathe hymns to little Stalins everywhere.

Defy illusion! The liberal egocentrics
      feed on slogans, while microscopic Hitlers
hymn death with little Stalins everywhere.
     “Relax,” they say, “The pale rider means well.”

Beyond the slogans, trite biopic Hitlers
      fake news. As true as feels no different.
Death, the pale rider, comes out of his shell.
      The sky falls as one starlit scroll and, look!

Fake news or true? Can you tell the difference?
      See what has been written, and then unwritten:
the sky folds into a vapid scroll, the Book
      of Schmaltz. Here comes the sentimental gutter.



Chapter 7
“Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000.” (v.4)

Everyone knows Di Caprio and Winslet made the Titanic
what it was, that history abandoned the great multitude
in one wave from Celine Dion’s folding, ship-shaped fan.

My art will go on! Sound of the freshly lionized in panic
at feline neon-lit names eulogized in flattening platitudes.
Another ship sunk. Artists navigate their own extinction.

I fire potshots at my feted self from the palatial margin.



Chapter 8
“…a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” (v. 12)

A third want duty without responsibility,
a third the opposite; the latter become
cabinet ministers and amateur foragers.
The remaining third cling to a mythical
middle ground, blunder down either path
without knowing it. A third of the earth
is burned up, and a third of the trees.
Every green flare of grass is burned up.
A third of words are needlessly repeated;
two thirds of published poems are unread
except by their authors; almost a third
not even by them. Two thirds of experts
establish a synonym between Farage
and cabbage; one third is a full rhyme,
a wee beige jobby of Napoleonic lineage.
A third of all statistics are fabricated
like this one; a third approach truth in
extreme conditions, like an inch of snow
south of Birmingham; a third suggest
nefarious purpose and will often add
successive thirds to defy mathematics
and multiply into further long divisions.
A third do things by halves, a third
triple up and ride their identity crisis.
A third of the sea is blood, a third
of fish are clobbered, a third of ships
batter the rocks and lose their war
with surface luminosities before
descending to the depths. A third
follow them; a third follow the sun,
erupt like mushrooms from within.
The star called Wormwood falls on
a third of rivers; a third of waters
fall bitter; a third of the vox populi
fall silent and worship bitterness.
A third is nothing, the cynics crow,
but a third of history worth making
seems, to one third of respondents,
to come ex nihilo (except in English);
a third think history a waste of time,
when nothing happens, and resign.
A third subscribe to pie-in-the-sky
thinking; a third think its opposite
is toad-in-the-hole; a third can think
of no reason to reimagine the world.



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.


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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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