“The owls are hooting in the afternoon again
or maybe the world is just quiet enough to hear them.”
We’ll Meat Again, by Benjamin Myers, is the third title published by the recently formed Ration Books (I review the first here and the second here). These are pocket sized quick reads intended to be: disposed of, passed on, left for other readers to find. Ration 3 is described on the back cover as ‘quarantine dream scenes disguised as fleeting poems’. In reading them I pondered if the author had been ingesting the special cookies (not that I am suggesting he indulges in such behaviour).
Myers’ trademark appreciation of nature, alongside his willingness to face down brutal realities, are injected with elements so surreal that they at times perplexed this reader. His lockdown observations are undoubtedly pithy and witty but some remained opaque even after several attempts to decipher meaning. Others honed in on tropes that garnered media attention as life grew ever more constricted. Images evoked are often playful, if morbidly so. This is not an offering that celebrates the best of what man can be in a crisis.
“A man accidentally strangles himself with the clanking chain of his sex swing
Neighbours are alerted by the black smoke pluming from his burnt sourdough”
My reaction after first perusal was to question what I had just read. Be assured, enjoyment improves with rereads. There is play on language alongside a reminder of what lockdown featured. Perhaps this work is intended as an aide-memoire for the times we have experienced over the past year.
“Keep two claps apart
and wash your metres
Social the unprecedented
Isolate a lockdown.
As a literary reminder I personally prefer Jonathan Gibbs’ Spring Journal. There is, however, room on my shelves for a collection such as this that both provokes and entertains.