Victor Price’s second collection, Confessions of a Centaur, originally published in 2007, represents the slowly matured work of over twenty years.
Its subject matter ranges from his native Ulster to the wider world of Hiroshima and the Falklands war, unveiling a diverse human landscape. Price’s poems offer the reader profound meditations on the triumphs and limitations of art, the space age, even love itself; underpinned by a sense of mortality and lost time, leavened by a sometimes sardonic humour. Above all, they reflect a vibrant interplay of the classical and modern worlds in the poet’s imagination. In their breadth of reference, their intelligence and their power of expression these are poems for the twenty-first century, throwing a highly distinctive light on what Price calls ‘the aghast nakedness of man’.
For under the trellis of twigs
and feathers from your own nest
whose tamped security cupped you
the worst thing was hidden.
Skimming home one day
to my black-painted eaves,
you chose the wrong opening
and – wings in a crazed flutter –
worked your febrile way
down the abrading planes
of breeze block that turned
your beak’s ductile edge
to a roach-infested place
where time’s torniquet
strangled your pulse at last.
No, do not come again.
I know what you portend:
that cramped destination
and dying fibrillation, as of wings.
These days you’ve got to have a vulture.
You keep a rock at the bottom of the garden
and mount it when the fit takes you;
then you call up the technicolor bird.
With that plastic beak delving
inside you for best end or liver
what yowling ecstasies you can indulge!
But, friend Prometheus, a word.
Your blinking neighbour in shirt and braces,
head over fence like an incurious cow,
sees just a taxpayer in an armchair
with an old budgie mumbling his forefinger.