A Peacock Is a Poem
After Aubrey Beardsley

Dr Golnoosh Nour reads ‘A Peacock is a Poem’:

 

A silver platter embroidered with gold

ashes. A poem is not a poem if it doesn’t

weep gilded decadence. A poem is not a poem

if it doesn’t look like a slender boy in a peacock

skirt. It is not a poem if the boy does not claim

to be Venus. It is not a poem if Venus does not

stay awake until dawn, coiffing her hair. It is not a

poem if Venus does not behead religion.

It is a ballad when religion bleeds obsidian stones

It is an epic when religion apologises and Venus

spanks it with her diamond whip. Religion writhes in blood,

asking for more. But our boy, Venus gets bored.

She takes off her peacock skirt, displaying her crystal

penis. Religion gets aroused, excited even, but Venus

throws his severed head in her golden bin, alongside a few saints

and prophets, who are all pleading, bleeding, in vain.

A poem is only a poem if it’s a naked woman seeking

Lovers. A poem is only a poem if it’s a many breasted dragon

Her breasts covered with crimson damask, and strewn with

gay flowers; irises, columbines, carnations.

A poem is only a poem if it’s a decadent diamond

It is not a poem if it doesn’t wear a peacock skirt

It is not a poem if it does not display a silver tray of

Sex and the grotesque.

A poem is not a poem if it doesn’t destroy itself

A poem is not a poem if it’s not irrelevant, useless beauty, like sculpted marbles

A poem is only a poem if it’s an ivory piece

A poem is not a poem if it doesn’t tease

with the memory of a grotesque

dream – or a charming nightmare. A poem is not a poem if it’s not

a curious tale. A poem is not a poem if not written in uncertainty.

A poem is a sonnet if it crushes iambic pentameters.

A poem is an elegy if it celebrates decadence

It is a sestina if it knows the dance of the seven veils

It is an ode if it mocks its object of desire.

A poem is a poem if it writes letters to its critics

patronising them to tears.

A poem is only a poem if it escapes the injustice of juries and

the shuffling of dealers. A poem is not a poem if it claims

Shakespeare for its favourite poet, Beethoven for its favourite

composer, and Raphael for its favourite painter.

A poem is only a poem if it doesn’t confess.

A poem is a true poem if it’s a mad woman beheading prophets.

A poem is a poem if it’s a valiant warrior, wrapped

in peacock feathers.

 
Dr Golnoosh Nour’s debut poetry collection Sorrows of the Sun was published in 2017 and her short story collection The Ministry of Guidance was recently published by Muswell Press. Her work has also been published in Granta, Poetry Anthology, and Ink Sweat & Tears. Golnoosh teaches Creative Writing and designs and hosts a literary radio programme on Soho Radio Culture. For more info, visit her website: https://golnooshwriter.weebly.com/