A Skeleton's Progress
May 2018. 32 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-67-1
£6.00 (+ 1.50 p&p), €6.00 (+ 1.50 p&p), US$8.50 (+ 2.50 p&p)
“Skeleton Man sidles up to take his place amongst his literary forebears such as John Berryman’s Mr Bones, Ted Hughes’s Crow and Christopher Reid’s Mr Mouth, before veering off in his own direction. The world of Skeleton Man is both familiar and strange, absurd and yet recognisable. There is a dry and intelligent wit in these endlessly inventive poems which invite the reader to ask questions about the world and the knowledge we take for granted.”
“Eliot famously talked of rats’ alleys where dead men lost their bones. Martin Kratz goes in search of bones in this unsparing examination of the skeletal truths of living. Unsentimental, relentless and, at times, comedic, these poems expose what is left in a world which flays bodies and always wants more. Kratz’s Skeleton Man is caught up in pilgrimage, or whatever passes for pilgrimage in irreligious times. When Kratz suggests, ‘Something / has stood / between your life and you’, A Skeleton’s Progress gestures towards perennial human themes. These poems serve as both comfort and warning.”
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from A Skeleton's Progress
On City Rivers
Skeleton Man, you know
a skeleton when you see one.
And this city has rivers for bones.
Some rise out from under
its skin of road and railway line
in fractured glimpses: hemmed
into a short corner, brick-lock-
ed into their courses.
Others, Skeleton Man,
are buried deep, surface
only in the names of streets.
If one broke,
you wonder, how would we know,
other than too late?
A Skeleton Walks into a Pub
Skeleton Man, you walk into a pub.
The bartender says: What’ll it be?
You tap the pump
with the most colourful label:
Some hedge wizard in an English field wassailing apples.
Down in one.
That’s when the trouble begins.
Skeleton Man, you perform admirably.
You include all constituent parts expected from a night out:
drink, fight, chip tooth. The liquid runs down the inside of your legs –nice touch.
It’s just that each element should occur at intervals.
In your life, all things happen all at once.
Nothing spaced out, nothing unfolds. You’re too neat by halves.
Reviews of Martin Kratz: A Skeleton's Progress
"There's a rich tradition behind this use of duality, from the Anglo-Saxon 'Soul and Body' poems, through Marvell’s 'A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body', up to contemporary creations of near-human avatars like John Agard’s The Coming of the Little Green Man. Kratz keeps the tradition moving forward, and his progress is lively and inventive."
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