Interview With a Blemmya by Simon Williams

The Blemmyae were a race of headless people, whose faces grew in their upper torsos. They were described first by the Greeks.

It works well for us; nobody is headstrong.
We never knock ourselves on architraves.
We recognise no godhead.
Our traders have no overheads.

Our schools have no head teachers.
Headbutts and headlocks are unknown.
Nobody is pigheaded; some of us
are knobs, but never dickheads.

There are advantages in clothing, too:
nobody has to train to make hats,
ties and belts are much the same,
bras and spectacles can double up,

but ears in armpits have always
been a bugbear. We hear well only
when climbing trees, under arrest
or dancing the flamenco.

We have worked well into your culture;
you talk of us while barely knowing it.
‘My heart was in my mouth’ was one of ours.
‘Put hair on your chest’ refers to beards

and when you panic at your deadlines,
work so fast it all becomes a tangle,
you turn to us to illustrate your plight,
or more correctly, to our flocks of chickens.

Simon Williams has six published collections. He latest pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Mac Chagall, launched in April and his next full collection, Inti, will be out later this year. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet. He makes a living as a journalist.


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