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Featured Poet: Jon Stone

Eyewear is very glad to welcome young British poet Jon Stone (pictured) to these pages this World Cup Friday here in England, where the big game draws near. Stone was born in Derby and now lives in Whitechapel, working in London as a court editor.

He is co-creator of hand-built lit journal Fuselit, which he has produced with Kirsten Irving since 2005, and has recently started Sidekick Books, an imprint for themed multi-poet anthologies. He was highly commended in the National Poetry Competition 2009 and his debut pamphlet, Scarecrows, was released by HappenStance earlier this year.

Luke Kennard describes it thus: “Angry, beautiful poems which access parts of your mind you didn’t know you had … It’s hard to capture the sense of joy I get from reading this collection.”

Jon maintains the site, home of Sidekick Books and its capricious 'editor-in-chief', Dr Fulminare.

Having clashed light verbal swords with Stone in the past online, I have grown increasingly impressed with his mind, imagination and style. His pamphlet, Scarecrows, has several hair-risingly smart and unusual poems in it, and he reads his work well, too. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes one of the leading lights of his generation - a generation that is bewilderingly full of talented poets of great promise. The poem below (which needs to be reformatted by me soon to get rid of the woeful double spacing between lines - ah html!) shows his ability to yoke together very new cultural references with the classical, in surprising, funny, and sometimes shocking ways.

Caligula as a Character in Final Fantasy

The wretched bastards haven’t turned up yet!
And all the food gone off. The billionth time,
him slouching in his throne, no TV set
to mitigate the castle’s charmless gloom.
Just the checklist, which he checks: “Um, um,
yes.” He ticks the ticks that mark more ticks.
Mystic items? Dozens. Weapons? Stacks.

He’s got the golden armour, head to toe
– or  rather, Burgonet to Sabaton –
and gold enough (it’s been field-tested) to
smite the unsheathed eyes of anyone,
holy or unholy, with a shorn-
off glint of sun, unless they’ve goggles on.
And then there’s this, which he has dubbed ‘Ms Joan’:

a polearm with a mecha-morphic head.
A swizzle of the quillons and a glaive
becomes, with much crunching of gears, a hide-
skinning sv√§rdstav, or, if you’ve the nerve,
a straight blade for that close-but-long-range shave.
And since the thing’s appropriately warlike
it doesn’t matter that it’s kind of phallic.

He’s got the look, the pantheon of hair
(and hence won’t often wear the Burgonet),
a bloody neckerchief, a cape, a scar.
He’s got the motive: must avenge the lot.
Father, mother, sister for a start.
Then brother, other brother, step-dad, wife,
baby daughter – all the flags of grief.

He’s picked out his romantic interest:
the little summoner with snowdrop flesh,
lightly armed and only lightly trussed
in – what, a star-embroidered shift, a sash? –
she could be jingled free from in a flash
of breath. He wants his long jaw prickled by
that shaved spot just before each beam of thigh.

Thanks to all that ‘French art’ from the East
he knows what follows is unduly gooey.
Never mind though. Once they’re done and dressed
he’ll cast a spell to clean them. Then he’ll play her
theme song on his lute and she’ll say, “Whoa.”
But note: though he can strum a bristling chord,
his class is ‘knight’. He’s not some spoony bard.

They’ll come, of course. They’ve got to. It is written
in the book or something. He’s their man.
Deeply wronged/impassioned/wounded/smitten,
all the omens purring: “It’s your turn!”
All the stones that weigh your carcass down.
The candles bite. The banquet table rots.
He waits. And waits. And waits. And waits. And waits.

poem by Jon Stone

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