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Difficulties and Exultations

Difficulties and Exultations

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"Very few books of poems are compulsory page-turners, but this one is. I kept calling people into the room to share lines with them, just for the sheer pleasure of reading the words out loud."
Ian McMillan

"He has the ability to create complex conundrums with the most colloquial of vocabularies. His language is plain but his meaning isn't he celebrates the spontaneous in a style that is highly crafted and artful."

"Difficulties and Exultations presents Martin Stannard at his best a wonderfully adventurous poet whose formal inventiveness rewards us over and over again with poems of imagination and heart."
Paul Violi

The Happiness Business

Don't be complacent with relentless heaven, there's
eventually no rest there. It ends with balancing
a pile of crockery on the end of a stick
whilst riding a unicycle with a square wheel,
trying to say important things in your head
only to tumble down the cliff face with the stones.
This happiness business, it's full of holes.

Angels indistinguishable from ghosts sit at table,
picking over their food and grumbling at
the oncoming night. You say such terrible things
to yourself, as if hearing the truth is the same
as understanding it. Perhaps if you said
the same things to someone who wasn't interested
they'd be able to tell you exactly what
it all adds up to. It might not be much.
You are human after all, with all the failings
that entails. One truth is that here there is
a huge sky, full of stars and infinite possibilities,
but it can suddenly collapse around your head
like an old umbrella, shelter turning into storm
and the thunderbolt hits you, how stupid you are.

But you were a guest at the divine table, and
you can still taste the food on your tongue,
some of it is even now stuck between your teeth,
and as you walk home alone in the rain you don't know
whether to be happy for having been there or
distraught for knowing you'll not go there again.
This happiness business is, you know, full of holes.