The Nothingness Kit by John W. Sexton

About the Author

John W. Sexton was born in 1958 and identifies with the Aisling poetic tradition. His work spans vision poetry, contemporary fabulism and tangential surrealism. He is the author of seven poetry collections, the most recent being: The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry 2013), Futures Pass (Salmon Poetry 2018), and Visions at Templeglantine (Revival Press 2020). A chapbook of his surrealist poetry, Inverted Night, came out from SurVision in April 2019. His next collection, The World Under the World, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons of Shiva, which was released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl was awarded the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007 for best single poem. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.

Artistic Statement

The sequences in The Nothingness Kit are comprised of mixed hybrid gendai, scifaiku and minims, and are designed and should be read as graffiti passing in ribbons through the aether. They purport to originate from multiversal existences of the subconscious and oscillate between folktale, literary and cultural allusion, science fiction and dystopian vision. They can be likened to a bombardment of radioactive particles arriving simultaneously from the cosmic past and the accelerating future. In a literal and metaphorical sense, the intention is to mutate the perceptions of the reader. 

Praise for the Author

“John W. Sexton’s The Nothingness Kit is, in its first and foremost
paradox, full of stuff. This collection of ‘scifaiku’ – haiku which
abandon the lapidary strictures with which the form is sometimes
burdened to form speculative-fiction narratives – forms a dense
forest of wordplay, a pungent pastoral through which figures from
myth, folklore and popular culture skip, stumble and thread their
way. Sometimes sexy, sometimes scary, silly in its ancient sense of
blessed, touched by the divine, this is a cosmic ride not to be

Kit Fryatt; poet and lecturer in English

“It is the job of the poet, above everything, to surprise us, to make new what we once thought of as ordinary, and for the king to be “pleased with his deception”. This kingpoet has been pleasantly deceiving us for decades now. As one of Ireland’s major, and criminally underrated poets, he has stirred us and whirred our imaginations to all kinds of frenzies, not only in his relentless quest for new forms and delights but in his mesmeric live performances too.”

– Colin O’Sullivan, novelist, author of The Starved Lover Sings, The Dark Manual, My Perfect Cousin (all from Betimes Books)

“In The Nothingness Kit, John W. Sexton, ‘surrealonaut’, daringly untethers haiku in microgravity and lets the form float up against the gamut of his imaginative fancies. The unusual form, hybrid gendai scifaiku, becomes a reservoir for everything from Laika to shoes made of smoke to Johnny Cash to radioactive tea. Spatial and temporal relations blur ‘inside the wheredrobe’, in ‘the house with whendows’, and we are in the very bittersweet meltdown of dream.”  

– Dean Browne, author of Kitchens at Night (smith/doorstop); winner of the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, 2021



deep Martian aquifer -
a mollusc congress debates
the myth of stars			

         drawn to chakra light...
         mothgods lapping nectar
         from the mind				

through their smoky bodies
the starlight glitters -
meadow full of nothings		

         Jack Russell barked open 
         our sleep ... a halved snake 
         leaks dawn   							

bubonic-skinned ...
all they knew of beauty
was themselves

         moist song of
         vulva birds
         sunlight through the gap

a grey dray-horse
its shadow dim ... the End 
of Dull Days deadens

         badger moves the dark 
         about in the dark ...
         night dense in the sett

oh you black sky … 
more visible 
than the brightest stars

The Unwoods

telepathy ...
somewhere in the mind
an elephant			

         albino badger 
         transparent in daylight
         the unwoods begin	   

dandelion drift
leaks an heir		

         anorexic girl
         stole a horse's shadow
         rode it into the ground
climbing down
on ladders of rain
the dead pass through us     	

         thrush  ingmachines …
         their earthworm accordions
         rend a soft tune		

slit sea cucumber
bleeds dreams of light … a knife
photographs the moon   	

         unscrewing re-screwing 
         its head ... owl releases 
         thought into night

is of star matter …
no full stop before
or after infinity

A State of Mind

beneath their slant shoulders
zen spiral vortices ...
         a bulb ruptures the city ...
         blossoms outdo the clouds
         scent engulfs us		

Hansel's elevator of 
goose down ... no thirteenth floor
no six six six			

         fore! ...
         return of the prodigal golf balls
         all at once			

Hildevarga's curse ...
dog-penis stinkhorns
stiffen by the convent gate	

         unfolding the blueprint
         for fog ... everything
         is suddenly clear		

the winged cows
milking them
is a state of mind		

         pinpricks of rust
         the pontiff's tailor's pins
         all dulled with angels		

sputum from 
a seraphim ... galaxies fester
in his cough	 		
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