Things are Beautiful Really, Stuart McPherson

The lies I’ve told myself about
living are covered with a sheet
and embroidered

Pictures of a winter house
Lights hanging in a dry jaw of air
Our places of illumination

The moon a goblet of eternal
youth, and me, a liar,
slipping like a hand

Things are beautiful really
Her discarded shoes, the sky as

I’ll lose the way it presses down
upon my body, and similar to
real families, my happy friends

I have the opportunity but lack the
effort. I’ll speak to her and maybe
we can agree

On how best to colour things in
How to select the sharpest needles
for the thread

Copyright ©Stuart McPherson




There are some memorable and quotable lines in this poem, “Things are Beautiful Really”, by Stuart McPherson: the slacker’s confession of ”I have the opportunity but lack the/effort” and the dramatic opening stanza – “The lies I’ve told myself about/living are covered with a sheet/and embroidered”.

As the title suggests, there’s a sense of reluctance expressed in the poem, as if the poet is trying to convince himself about life. He does this by cataloguing the things he sees with a photographic eye, the poem itself perhaps a “place of illumination”. Despite this, the world seems elusive; McPherson says the poem addresses the duality of emotions – how we may present an image of being happy when this may not be the case underneath. The poet looks on at “real families, my happy friends”, wondering “how best to colour things in”.

This is an elegant and reflective poem; human life seems small against nature (the moon is “a goblet of eternal/youth” and the possibly oppressive sky as “smalt”), with the choices we have in life lyrically expressed at the end of the poem in a tender moment of domesticity.


Stuart McPherson is a prize-winning poet from the UK. Recent poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Bath Magg,  Poetry Wales, and Anthropocene. The pamphlet Waterbearer was published in December 2021 by Broken Sleep Books. A debut full length collection Obligate Carnivore was published by Broken Sleep Books in August 2022. In October 2022, Stuart was the winner of the Ambit Annual Poetry Competition.



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