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ISBN: 9781915108166

Publication Date - Thursday 7 December 2023




Tom Walker

[A] time of paper credit
speculators light cigars with government bills 
cut about with pocket knives, to test the depth of fat
dreams of Mar-a-Largo in their eyes. 


Old Tom Walker went out to the woods
names of rich colonialists carved into the trees
dropped a couple of holes to keep things friendly
won himself a share in Bill Kidd, the Pirate’s treasure
all for the right price, of course


a house, a car & a new career in television
a dead woman’s heart & lungs wrapped up in an apron
an unkindness of knives that twisted in his mouth
Brioni suits, cut wide across the shoulder
finasteride & cold-cream on a polished truncheon
getting the help to cinch him into a leather sling


lived in mortal terror of the collection plate
his best horse buried in its saddle, upside down
one bible in his pocket, another on his desk
when the TV cameras came by looking for a story, he cried
the devil take me, if I have made a cent


you fell on him like a brigade of lightning
stuffed a thousand Georgia ballots in his mouth
dragged him off behind a Pontiac Firebird
left a ragged smear of laughter on the wind. 




Time to get acquainted with your demons. In the poetry of  CD Boyland, they appear in years, days, algorithms, doubles, sickness, fossil fuels and factories. We travel back in time to ‘The Tavern’ where ‘Marlowe & Goethe’ shoot daggers at each other and disagree about the fate of Faust. We are called to listen. This collection trades in seven sins: one being the lust for ‘candid selfies’; another being ‘sloth’, the sin of ‘lying like a snowdrift up against everything’. Boyland’s poetics metabolise the mythical, hymnal, apocryphal, pornographic and carnivalesque forces of coal-powered modernity into the entropy of ‘unforgiving techno’ and ‘erewhon’. Variously, they take up space or dissipate. I can’t help but linger by the sirens. I want to sleep ‘peacefully / beneath a sea-bed alive with the calligraphy of coral’. Boyland makes space for nature to rewrite itself. This is a work of desire, refusal and ardent storytelling. Imagine Yeats organising a choreography of wolves. Hell’s villanelle is around the corner. —Maria Sledmere

This collection showcases a fierce intelligence at full tilt, ranging across a mirror-world where Marlowe and Goethe hurl insults across a pub table, algorithmic Faustian pacts are cemented between characters locked in eternal conflict, and an ever-expanding collage of texts pulls the reader into a web of unsystematic belief systems. Boyland is a writer of sensual terror and delight, formally inventive, and unafraid of how constraint informs creative freedom. Immerse yourself fully in this world and prepare to be unboxed. —Samuel Tongue



Mephistopheles by CD Boyland

  • Prologue in Heaven

    [I]n the name of the Father
    unbothered by their
    blasphemous levity, stepping 
    down from the heavenly sphere
    they meet up for a drink


    Jesu raises a glass
    mindful of wounds in palms
    not to bleed on His white robe
    St Michael’s spear propped carelessly
    beside the open door


    universal English faces
    more human than divine, by order
    exchanging pre-Babylonian banter
    beneath their table, the Devil writhes
    & begs for scraps, gets nothing


    Other punters in the bar
    mindful of their mortality 
    keep a nervous distance
    wary of light unapproachable
    how men, being life-size only
    are all too easily trodden beneath 
    their saviour’s feet. 




    The Bell

    [T]ake out your eyes,
    this is for your own 
    good & ours


    We are agreed, you
    & all of us, all of 
    us & you, that this
    is the right thing to


    Imagine a clock, its
    hands turning, hours
    passing – though you
    can no longer see

     – all is well – its hands
    still turn, the hours 
    still pass


     – & now that you are 
    blind, we have added 
    more hours to the day


     – now that you no longer 
    need the light, all the hours 
    of the night will be the day 
    & all the hours of the day 
    will be the day as well 


    This is the bargain that
    we made, the cracked 
    bell that we have struck – 


    these are our last words
    on the matter & if they 
    are not, then those words
    will be the last  


     – what matters is that 
    we stand together, all 
    of us & you, you & 
    all of us, & go as 


     – into the darkness.


  • CD Boyland is a poet, visual poet, and editor who lives in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow. His pamphlets are User Stories (2020); Vessel (2022); SMC_ (also 2022) and Ptchdk_ (2023). Other work has been published in magazines and anthologies such as: 3AM Magazine, Beir Bua, Gutter, The Interpreter’s House, The North and New Writing Scotland. He is a Trustee of the Edwin Morgan Trust and also co-edits The Glasgow Review of Books.

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