Valve Works 
by Rob Sherman & Sarah Ogilvie

Read the full text below, or download the PDF here. 

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Accompanying the collection is Rob Sherman's short story, Gallstones.




Hypothalamus       p.4

Heart              p.5

Hallux             p.6

Lungs              p.7

Eyes               p.8

Liver              p.9

Hands              p.10

Stomach            p.11

Spleen             p.12

Kidney             p.13

Teeth              p.14



Published by Philistine Press, 2010

All poems © Rob Sherman

Artwork by Sarah Ogilvie

We are like chimpanzees struck by lightning, gazing in smoking wonder at our throbbing erections, struggling to hold the words we want in our recessed brains, but, in the end, just wanting to fuck something... to discharge the electricity.







The part of the brain that controls hunger, thirst, and body temperature.

                        The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy


You may hang,

     My Holy Greek,

In the amniote, like a stalactite breathing

     An alloy of me, dripping it


     Down the Escher stairway

That my ribs make.

     Your juice enters my heart,

Makes it a heaving, overclocked engine 

     That loosely relates to that afternoon

I chased ducks and she disapproved.

     You may hang, a bud, a nipple,

A pear, a cave painting, a tongue.

     You may hang however you please.

For I can feel you if I push against

     The beams of my mouth

My pilot, featureless as a knee,

     Suspended like a sinner.

My crippled, Bacchal organiser

     That stimulates my growth. 





A hollow, pump-like organ of blood circulation.

                        The Random House Dictionary


You look like a dog's head, panting, repeating noise,

The doctors stroke your muzzle and your ears prick at my voice.




The first or innermost digit of the foot; The Great Toe.

                             The Random House Dictionary


In which the poet constructs a malediction against his own hallux, which, in the end, has caused him nothing but grief.


You grow in, you burrow, you mole

You Pinochet, you skunk, you troll,

You fat twin pig, gout-sponged, you spread

Take your real estate from the less fortunate.

You bloat, you block, you foul menstruate.


May an ill-advised Andean climb in poor health,

Make you peel and crisp and eat yourself.  

May a spindled fish, with teeth and intent,

Rip you from your prehensile indent. 

Even if I fall, great balancer, the equilibrium of birds,

I would tumble forth four hundred times to see you gone and burned.



A sack-like organ of respiration.

              Stedman's Medical Dictionary


If I think of you at all, I think of you as kindly,

Insubstantial, clean and chambered,

A great treasury of exchange.


Your gold is hidden from all thieves

By the virtue of invisibility.



The vertebrate organ of sight.

              The American Heritage Science Dictionary


A scoop of rain black some ice cream in a drain black a bird a house a shovel that grits painfully

against the road black black black

The back of itself the encircling pink the light through the lid the hinged scaffolding and early to bed

This is what it sees but all through water, just water and skin water and skin to see where it's been



The bile-secreting organ of an animal.

          The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language


 A reworking of Shakespeare's sonnet No. XXXI.






Your bosom is my noddled bed,

And underneath the skin,

My ear plugs into some godhead

And I begin to hear the din,

Of trapped hates and past loves

Bad beers and the nervous tread

As the wide orchards of the hepatic groves

Python-stretch them dead.

The plug-hole sponges closed again,

The flow's directed down,

They roost in piles like ordered hens

Amongst the crenellated brown.

Their images I loved, but your great comatic mole

Has synthesised their acids to a heaving, wasteful whole.








The terminal, prehensile part of the upper limb.

                   Random House Dictionary


People never really touch, a static field surrounds them.

They settle into it, like backs against the skein of tents.

     But with a balloon's lens they are covered.

Cover me, O field, O electric field!

     And let me breathe free inside the nothing-bag of me.




A sac-like enlargement of the alimentary canal.

                   Random House Dictionary


The greatest democracy curls beneath my lungs.

It greets the heavy politics of bread

And the haemorrhaged logic of satsuma

Equally and with aplomb.

The cardia opens like a crab's jaw

And the forum within bubbles and shifts

To the offbeat of burp and spew.

Debate is done amongst hydrogen

And then, at the Pyloric door

The terraces of dark, the country, the scent of glue. 




A ductless organ... serving... in the destruction of worn-out red blood cells.

                                  Random House Dictionary


Eight months before I was born I felt you sicked up, I think,

From a genesis gut no longer than a fingernail,

A sleepy forge, an oven for destruction, the blood torch.


An old book calls you the organ of laughter

And I believe you giggle bile, that funny food, into me

So that I can chew and not choke, and the bones and spokes


Of the bicycles chicken skeletons make, the ribs of pigs.

Are broken in your Etna core, your magma that digests.


But most I see a line of bumping, clumsy blood, quaking and true.

Past their use, rejected and obtuse, marching to their death in you.



A pair of bean-shaped organs... that secrete urine.

                        Random House Dictionary


A conversation.

I think you are the poorer brother, of us two.

                   I agree, brother.

You curl less like a Joey and more like a bean.

                   I agree, brother.

It was your fault that the incident happened, at that party,

years ago, when he was about to score.

                   I agree, brother.

Your cortex is patchy, like an old bug net.

                   You are right, brother.

I think they should take you; you'll feel at home, with

The pensioner heart, the veteran dick, the witchdoctor brain.

                   I will go, brother.




The hard bodies... attached in a row to each jaw, serving the mastication of food and weapons of attack.

              Random House Dictionary


You are a display case of flint tools and iron arrowheads,

A doddery, crooked, Easter Island of relics,

Some with use, sharp and the ship-wrecked splinters of dogs

Others, the cleverest, pushed to the back,

To grumble, shift, die and go black.  



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