Episode 7 bonus track
The National Gallery Podcast
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): This is a bonus track from the National Gallery podcast. It features original poetry from two writers’ collectives, ‘The Vineyard’ and ‘Malika’s Kitchen’, inspired by the National Gallery after dark.
‘Stubbs’s Horse’ by Roger Robinson.
Looking at Stubbs’s horse in the dark it becomes clear
He was no muscular glamourist, no fetishizer of fur and skin,
Convinced that the body was the host to the horse’s spirit,
He began making martyrs of horses, subjecting them to juggler death,
Beads of sweat rolling down their barrelled torsos,
Their eyelashes fluttering with a flourish,
Pumping them with warm tallow till their pulsing veins and arteries slowly came to a halt,
Suspended in a standing or a trotting pose by a series of hooks and tackles amid buckets of clotting blood,
Working his way through muscle by muscle, bone by bone,
Dissecting and designing limbs,
First stripping off the skin and other layers of muscle,
Turning pages in the book of horse.
So that even in the dark of the museum I can feel this horse breathing.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘A Cup of Water and a Rose’ by Jacob Sam La-Rose.
Jacob Sam La-Rose:
I will never empty.
I will remain pure.
I will not betray the slightest tremor,
Never lessen, never quench a thirst.
Imagine me cool against your lips
I will never reflect your gaze.
The petals beside me will never fall
And if you reach for me
I will not be there.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘The Gallery After Closing Time’ by Aoife Mannix.
Night time when the corridors are dry,
The halls echoing empty spaces whispering the footfalls of crowded Sunday afternoons
The hush of rooms stripped of their visitors,
Just our painted eyes glinting in the shadow light.
We stare into the quiet of night’s palette
The dark hush of colours resting from the harshness of so many gazes.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘These Hidden Hours’ by Naomi Woddis.
Vacuum-sealed we walk, silent corridors, hearing nothing but our breath.
We are ghosts in these the hidden hours
Where only the air moves, haunting the halls of the living.
The night is a baby’s eyelid shutting the dusk sky.
Whistlejacket on two proud winning legs ran four miles to victory.
We crouch beneath his neighing pride.
Stubbs’s riderless horse surveys us in an eyeblink,
Waiting for a response from a courageous jockey
To mount his back, steer him to win again,
Let him taste magnificence.
A young girl turns to the safety of her father,
Smelling pipe smoke on his cuffs, shudders at the bird in the vacuum;
Her first view of death.
The cockatoo, his white feathers, a fury of cloud-dust.
For every story, there is another story.
Each painting finds it’s footing in the anchor of imagination.
Speak, and the moment will be gone.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘Goodnight Vincent’ by Niall O’Sullivan.
Your cocky chair nearly had us.
Almost a dare, rather than an invitation.
You skew perspective, pitch that hard clay floor into our faces
And yet those roots reach out from the box of onions,
Prove that the truth, the will, cannot be contained.
A blunt offer, but still an invitation.
Please be seated, minus the please.
We reciprocate with a bi-millennial money-tainted gaze.
Scanning for some e-mo porn,
Omens of tragedy rumbling beneath thick smears of beaming yellow.
Perhaps it is more fitting that when the floor no longer squeaks
With the gait of rubber souls,
After the day’s last echoing whisper signifies a constant failure of words
Photons cease their frantic dance with no retinal rods to catch them.
And I like to think that you’re invitation still stands,
And it is the silence, the stillness, the darkness that accept it.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘Splinters and Gilt’ by Dfiza Benson.
First I smell it.
Custard, blood, carbon, vinegar, armpits, dust, sandalwood, old paper.
The tang of all things organic, life and death mouldering together.
Thousands of eyes burn through canvas and wood
Squirm-free of oil and pigment
Stalk me into the vanishing point of glass doors.
The hum of today freezes ghosts of old stories.
Sea-nymphs crest palls,
A saint clutches a skull to his body,
These are facsimiles of old bodies made ghost.
Then I feel it.
I am a blue devil, glazed, transparent,
Shimmering between stanza and picture
Shuddering through splinters and gilt
Sliding on the soft grease of human meat,
Spilled by women, naked and geriatric.
They are firing up death, flaccid, long past rigor mortis,
Head lolls, neck snapped like a quick apostrophe.
One weird sister sits under a tree, gnarled into bloated grey petrified feminity.
She traps light as it leaves the stanza
Takes no chance, grinds it down in her pot of night.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): ‘We’ by Jacob Sam La-Rose.
Jacob Sam La-Rose:
We team in the dark, a multitude of wings, cloud-forms and eyes,
Iterations of flesh, gods and visions of them,
The folds of finest robes, oranges, lemons tumbling towards you,
A wealth of still life.
Flower-heads forever in bloom, tongues still fat and moist in open mouths,
Silenced voices brazen serpents,
Saints with fervent hands,
Christ and crucifixes, angles of light,
Mortality in all its forms,
We hold entire worlds within our frames, immaculate, untouchable.
Miranda Hinkley (in the studio): The National Gallery podcast. If you’ve enjoyed these poems, you can also read them online at www.nationalgallery.org.uk.