One Man


A long prose poem...

Published by The Annephelios Press in France. 80pp. ISBN 2-9513747-0-4

Distributed by Five Seasons Press in Hereford, UK.


"I was somewhat hypnotized by it - by the quality of the stanzaic scheme that I could not put my finger on. I also liked the humor, the quietly disorienting treatment of time, and many other things. It's a poem that stays in the mind."

J.M.Coetzee (Nobel Prize for Literature, 2003)


 Written in a minimalist prose in English, One Man weaves and interweaves on many levels the description of a hermit’s voyage towards a young woman. The journey is fraught with dangers; he must suffer the miscomprehension of his fellow human beings and their violence. Though the narrative images are strong, it is the fundamental mythic and elemental tensions that are explored. The world described is often desolate, but is illuminated by the force of their instinct and by their strength and faith.


extract from One Man


they beg (help us) pulling at his clothes

the tips of his fingers though hard and leathery, split open…

the bodies he pulls from the rubble are limp, fluid, crushed...

or hard like branches of a tree…

sullied by the blood from his fingers

the women are still, their mouths distorted by despair, their eyes black

dark hair on their faces...

like gods, more awful than the dead

he stops, face down in the dust and rubble, and laments

and the women at once lament with him, loud and terrible...

he walks away, his tattered fingers dripping blood

a woman hurls a stone at him

another, which strikes him hard

then a hail of stones that forces him to flee

warriors have a sickening brotherhood (& food, new boots, dedicated doctors...)

but the people in their fear become strangers to each other; muttering, without trust, without feeling...

(wait carry hide run wait abandon kill)

all tramps and turncoats

offering sexual favours for a dry red match


© Richard Penna 2022