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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “The Interior” by Alan Gillis

"The Interior" by Alan Gillis

It’s safe to say that everyone has been spending more time inside their homes recently, a confinement that can bend the mind in strange ways. Take inspiration from Alan Gillis, who describes a bedroom using subversive and imaginative language in “The Interior” from his new book, The Readiness.

The Interior

There is a bed.
There is a bedside cabinet,
a clock. There are no adjectives.
Whiteness is painted on two walls,
on two walls there is wallpaper
with boats on waves.
There is a window, a window
sill. There are no curtains
but blinds. There is a desk, a desk
chair. There is nothing on the desk.
There is a wardrobe, whose door
is closed. There is nothing else.

If we draw the blinds, open the window,
let adjectives in, we can see
there is not much bedness about the bed,
not much you might call beddy-bye
with sheets a bleached who cares non-colour
as if ironed by an enormous angry iron.
The whiteness painted on two walls is off-
white the way a joke can be off
or a person. The window blinds snigger
like blades, cutting the anonymous room
from the anomalous moon-shaped streetlamp
floating on the black sea of night outside.

The boats on the wallpaper fall
or rise on wave lines that peak
at intervals. I went on a boat trip once
and it was awful, the sea a grey soup,
sky a freezing fog. One might guess
that if anything was written on
that desk it might be gibberish but we
shall refrain from prejudicial speculation.
A lifetime of work to own a house.
A lifetime of work to find a voice
then you end up diminished by its
drone when you try to rise

to the occasion. Keener readers
will have noted there is no floor,
no ceiling. I recall standing, feeling
I was sinking, outside a bedroom
window one freezing dawn, the sky a grey
formless soup, having paced the night
to nowhere in particular—to this
window—I suppose thinking if this is home
then I’m at sea, at sea. At intervals
from then to now I have set out to find
walls, a row of rooms, strange worlds
within the wardrobe, whose door is closed.

Alan Gillis, from The Readiness (2021)

Categories: Alan Gillis, New Releases, Poem of the WeekTags:

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