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Matt Phipps
Matt Phipps

Matt Phipps lives and works in São Paulo. Originally from the UK, he relocated to Brazil in the mistaken belief that it would be sunnier than London. He is currently editing his first novel and getting used to writing about himself in the third person.

Matt Phipps Poetry

Alice’s Left Breast


‘Your great mistake is to ignore the satire

Bandied among the mute phenomena.’

 – Derek Mahon


I am Alice’s left breast

And I tire of being looked at.

No one knows the depth of my feeling

Or my opinions about Syria.


Do you even care that I love

Abstract impressionism or find

Nudes rather a bore? Last week

I wrote a poem no one will ever hear      


About a piece of concrete

Cracked into a shape like Australia         

(Not, that is, because I admire

The country; I just like quixotic gestures).


I am not a pink-nosed captive kitten

For turning the pin-wheel of desire.

I speak tolerable Russian and have,

Through rigorous self-discipline,


Learned not to despair of a universe      

Containing Martin Amis.

And sometimes, as I lie awake

While Alice sleeps and the plughole


Giggles, when the heating

Chugs on like sodden lungs,

I wonder how I got here

And how soon I can leave.




Man and Superman


The image swells and silvers

On the bit where Clarke Kent realises

It’s Lois up there, when he runs for the

Revolving door and comes out a second later

As Superman, then soars up and catches her

One-handed, and the helicopter too,

And sets both down softer than snow,

Saying only by way of explanation

That he’s ‘a friend’.


Turns out the distortion is strictly metaphysical,

An autonomic response cooked up by

The conspiracy of anima and lacrima as I watch you

Soak it all up like photographic film:

A whole heroic paradigm, ready-made for your heart

As it was for mine: fiction to blunt the heart upon


How it floors me, the dumb

Familiar leak of heartbreak coalescing

Into the realisation that all hearts start like this,

Empty chambers waiting for the flicker-flam of belief

In gods or heroes to light them up. And it hurts

Even more to see you still running after the

Credits have rolled, stiff short legs hurrying

Under your cape, and me just a man

Unable to save you.




The Lovers


We are the lovers.

You have seen us before. Perhaps together,

Perhaps apart – to us it hardly matters now.

In our heyday we sampled every imaginable

Combination of partner, position and scenario,

And learned thereby every type of pain:

The anguish of plenitude and emptiness,

The endless savageries back and forth

Of role reversal and jealousy and masks,

Changing places but changing nothing, for

In the morning everything was the same again.

Now we can’t even remember each other’s names

Or the circumstances when we met,

With comic hairstyles, perhaps, and togas

Or a penchant for lark’s vomit and sodomy.

Oh, the shapes we made, writhing in the orgy!

Of course, when circumstances required

We could be discreet, and met in secret

As a pair of shepherd lads or the insatiable

Anchorite with her father-confessor.

That was in the dark ages, among whose crooked huts

Our passion regularly inflamed the old men’s impotence

To such a degree that they incited pig-faced locals

To drive us out with pitch forks and vegetables.

Yet I still think my favourite game was the classical one

When one of us spotted the other bathing or hunting

And took a sudden vengeful yen. Then

We’d chase each other into the shades of the wood

To consummate our passion by the agonies of metamorphosis

Into an echo or a flower or a stag – for this defines us:

Always chasing, always changing. It is how you’ll find us

In the public galleries and the margins of your history.

Look closer. Wait a while until we move. There now:

Are you sure we are not watching you?


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