TO HELL WITH ALL THAT by Jesse Darling – World Poetry Day 2022

This World Poetry Day we are sharing a selection of poems by artist Jesse Darling, whose exhibition No Medals No Ribbons is currently on display at Modern Art Oxford.

TO HELL WITH ALL THAT is drawn from their debut poetry collection VIRGINS, available in our Shop. Author Ziddy Ibn Sharam writes about VIRGINS: “These are poems to take with you and read aloud in transit, in public spaces, or quietly to your ride and die comrades. These are poems for the real ones.”


John Wayne and I gone strange & stupid in the rerun,

cadavers cantering on the endless spool & script like simple math.

In a post-patriarchal mainstream, a hippy cis divorcee

twice married into their officer class before the great defunding,

is celebrated for her bestselling title

Delicious Sorrow: Mourning Male Supremacy.

You get wasted and rave about the Property and Lifestyle feature

in which identical white girls in scented pantyliners

show your avatar around a series of magical show homes,

all boasting big blue windows and wide doorways,

lubricated with light like a hole in the head.

Bore me like one of your straight girls.

Big Hollywood like a bloated gut metabolising America,

our grand-uncle Freud would call it:

the wish fulfilment of a colonial guilt trip.

If only if only

those zombies sought revenge,

it would be wounded knee all over again,

and every cowboy would find his place

where he existed a mere moment between

the Enclosures Act and the end of mining

and as for the eternal ingenue, I wanted to be inside her,

but tired of her euphemisms because death is the basic integer.

No desires without the grave, I said, but she was pressing flowers into books.

The flowers were bright, wet, full of tongues and stamina.

They’ll stain, I said.

It’ll fade, she said.

Like everything, I said.

But the ingenue was illuminated

by her own pale fire.

The bluebeard Hitchcock said blondes make the best victims,

and that’s what they mean by having more fun.

The white girls wear their throats open in spring, coquettish.

Some things are aeternal,

she said, and curtsied,

springs creaking all the way down.

About VIRGINS, Darling’s debut collection of poems:

“Experiential and mapped, VIRGINS takes us on car rides, through hotel rooms and up close to meat viscera and enamel structures. Oscillating through binaries, concepts of innocence and experience are dragged by their creaturely haunches by ‘gathered clumps’ of characters who play, fight, bathe, fuck and browse on the burning pyre of old ideas.”

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