All the content of this website is © Copyright erbacce © Copyright on individual poems

remains with the authors; nothing may be reproduced without express permission.

If you download a copy of erbacce all copyright rules still apply.

03. Featuring: Sam Smith

Male Nurse

(from Problems & Polemics)


As soon as you become a psychiatric nurse

all of your extended family will start having

nervous breakdowns. They will either

get put on beta-blockers, or anti-depressants,

and they will want you to let them know

the side-effects of their medication.

And every other person you now meet will want

to tell you, at length, about their ex

who hung, gassed or, in some novel way,

otherwise killed themself. Or, watching

for your reactions, they will confide how they

themselves were sexually abused, are still

having therapy. Even your new colleagues

will seem to court disaster in their affairs

and marriages. On top of all that, after a year

you will be going to work in second-hand shirts

and be buying your shoes and trousers in

the sales. The puzzle of people, yourself included,

is what will keep you in the job.

Dialogue 23: We Take Our Identities From Our successes, Not Our Failures

(from Rooms & Dialogues)


Success of itself

is the holy grail men seek.

Which holy grail is generally represented

as an ornate chalice.

Significant thing about the chalice

is that it’s empty.

Like their sperm

all men must strive towards

an unknowable future.

Egg or non-egg.

Every achievement,

every victory will be hollow,

will come with a sense of So What?

and What Now? What Next?

Can be summed up

by the spread apart legs of soft porn,

hands holding wide the labia.

To see what?

A stubby pink clitoris

(female version of penis)

and darkness.

Life always becomes ordinary.

(All those sad slim young mothers

pushing prams.)

Any mystery for men is

the darkness they penetrate.

And there’s a world of men in sheds

- watchmenders, poets & inventors,

gardeners, carpenters and lathe turners.


Even plump men own passions.

Room 4 

(from Rooms & Dialogues)


The young woman

lies naked on the bed

and masturbates.


that she cannot be seen

she stretches out

her free arm, raises

her hips,

imagines herself

being watched.

(notes for reading:- Through a battery-operated

megaphone in a a municipal carpark. Best to

background of silver light rising off a river and

to the squabbling of ducks.)


(from the pieces collection)


The guards wear white convex masks and genuflect

as the blue-skinned cadavers are carried out to

the fires. (Rumour is the disease is an experiment,

prisoners expendable.) An orange sun and a white moon

take turns to float in the weaving of black smoke.

(Rumour is the guards have been secretly

vaccinated.) More prisoners, feet bleeding,

are pushed in through the gates. Their camp

was bulldozed. (Rumours are of more killing,

of guards needed elsewhere, of a war lost,

a war won, of more prisoners taken.)

The tower guards only pretend to shoot at the rooks that

daily arrange themselves in the died-back branches

of an oak. (Rumour is of a village or town in that direction.)

Daylong grind of heavy machines has rumour of tanks, then

of a convoy. Final conclusion is combine harvesters,

a dust haze silting the sky to the east. One guard one day

is merciful over a dropped bowl. (Rumour is of release.)

+ Scott Thurston + David burns + douglas william Mowbray + Rick Lee + Sonja Broderick +              Corey Mesler + a. d. winans + Ursula Hurley + Pat Brodie + David Trame + Yvette Hawkins +        Paula Brown + Jim Bennett + Jim Rowley + Carlos Felipe Hurtado (Translated from                       Spanish by Ron Hudson) + Sarah Edwards + Le Pham Le (Poetry in Vietnamese and                    English) + Mario Susko + Duane Locke + Majid Mohiuddin + Al Markowitz