Tuesday Poem: Captain Fly's Bucket List - Agnes Marton

Fasten your seat belt and prepare to take off for a unique experience.  There's a warning from the poet at the beginning to expect 'non-existent words, distortions, unusual punctuation and layout, mixtures of different languages' and strange juxtapositions.  It's poetry then!

Agnes Marton is a linguist speaking Hungarian, English and several other European languages fluently.  Playing with words comes naturally in this collection of poems.  She is also a highly original visual artist and that also informs her work.  Captain Fly is the hero of this collection:

'I've been to soup and sauce and horseshit
humming my zazzy-zilchy hymns,
proud 24/7
of my unmarked wings.'

He watches 'the blurred Wolf Moon/through canopied lids'.  'I want it all,' he sings, becoming a metaphor for capitalist economics.
'I want to be the Demon of the Compost Heaps,
full but hungry.'

Unfamiliar uses and juxtapositions of language challenge and disturb the reader, presenting the invented vocabularies of magical beasts.  One section is called 'Sharkening', there are 'twink-attracting forces', and mentions of the 'infiltrating Solange'. Sometimes the linguistic gymnastics seem to go too far and then suddenly they amaze and delight.


Not my hoof!  I am swirling,
I am the thunder, I am the stars.

Who else and what for?
The don't-you-hurt guys,

The stunt.  Coffee with white crime.
Poach as approach, uneasy,

Inox traps shining nighttime.

This is poetry at the edge of understanding.  We need it.  We need people taking big risks and pushing boundaries to take the stiff upper-lip and starched shirt out of an art form that has become (in the UK anyway) increasingly institutionalised.  Once you make poetry a university discipline you put it into a strait-jacket - even Captain Fly can't in one of those!  Without subversive voices it leads either to a uniform pap or silence.


My grandfather was a safari soul.
He slipped away
before it became a trend.

He sent a lion's tail -
quite a gift.
We used it as a duster.

I collect postcards of the wild.
We don't have albums
with faces to cheer.

Cat got my grandmother's tongue,
my mother's tongue.

I inherited roaring silence.

Copyright Agnes Marton 2016

Captain Fly's Bucket List was launched at the Poetry Society in London on the 5th March and music composed by Vasiliki Legaki as a setting for 7 of the poems was performed in London on the same day.  Published in English in Budapest and not available on Amazon (like many small poetry presses).
More details about the collection and orders at this website
Agnes will be the Festival Poet at the Mondorf Art Festival in Luxembourg in June 2016.
Captain Fly's Bucket List has been long-listed for a Saboteur Award.


  1. VERY refreshing. I shall look at flies with a new respect from now on.


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