Exclusive: Eight Excerpts From Tim Presley’s New Book of Poetry ‘Under the Banner of Concern’




Considering how essential great wordsmithing has been to the colorful history of contemporary music (sorry Madonna), it’s sort of remarkable how rarely a songwriter births a legitimate book of poetry. After all, the level of exaltation for the likes of Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen would at least suggest a considerable number of tryers following in their poetic footsteps—but it has not been so.

Surely then, when we do get a great new book of musician-penned poetry, it is a reason to take notice. To wit, former Darker My Love frontman turned prolific solo artist Tim Presley has just released the intriguingly titled Under the Banner of Concern, via Anthology Editions, at this moment when we particularly exigently need to get lost in the ineffable, seeing as how reality has so thoroughly let us down.

Cate Le Bon actually came up with the title,” he recalls. “We were talking about titles for an art show for this, and it was the first thing she said. It instantly made perfect sense. I think it’s all encompassing and compassionate, and sums up the time the work was made.”

It’s also a time when far too many press releases contain the phrase, “This is the definitive breakup record.” So Presley’s more transcendent, even existential meditations are a welcome divergence from all the maudlin confessionals. Curiously, he reveals that his accompanying illustrations—sort of Toulouse Lautrec meets Fernand Léger—don’t act specifically in concert with the words.



“They don’t, or…they weren’t meant to. However, I noticed that some of the prose works well with some of the images. And I suppose it should, because the inspiration comes from the same well as the writing.”

But not necessarily looking for the book to claim a share of the current socio-cultural zeitgeist, he admits the poems were all penned before we went into pandemic lockdown in March. Yet they do contain a measure of, shall we say, accidental wisdom—as the words of all the great poets had tended to do.

“If there is a take away from these words,” he offers, “I would hope it helps relate to extreme love, and depression—two things we are all struggling with now. Maybe it could be there as a reminder that you’re not alone, even in a dark place or time. Maybe it reminds you that other people have struggles just like yourself, and we can all connect with our empathy for each other. Kinda like an NA, or AA meeting…but, a more surreal one.”

To fete its release, BlackBook asked Presley to share excerpts from eight of the poems that feature in Under the Banner of Concern.


Excerpts from Under the Banner of Concern


A Price For?

The few things
that feel real.
i do not know what is down, or what is up.

Dear Friend

I wear flies like clothing
my dark green hair is matted and sticky
i rent a room in a garbage can
my only companion a drunk pink worm
i have bent the truth for too long
my tongue is a rusty silver dagger
& i am sorry



Ocean & Geneva

you said goodbye to me
did you know then?
that night, before you left us all?
did you know
wise ones…. just know
it’s spiritual
you know how much to rig
how much is too much poison
rigor mortis
but, almost peaceful
that morning
that morning comes back to me
as a silent play
called: Ocean & Geneva

We Don’t Need Much

The heart is red
The heart is in the bed
All that love
could start a war
It’s the idiot in love’s restaurant
It’s the scorpion on the phone
It’s your body in the tub


Razor Blade in His Mouth

He had a razor blade in his mouth 

He had a razor blade in his mouth 

He had a razor blade in his mouth 

He had a razor blade in his mouth

Razor Blade in His Mouth

Sell me your weak drug
Sell me your fake poison
Sell me the sperm of Poseidon
In the tough streets of prayer That’s a beautiful hat
I have $100
You know what it’s for
Angels yelling: I never need more I’m out of the game
And into the rain



this world is crumbling
come to me whole
one liquid or another
you are all over the place, my love 


Have you ever had sex with someone, by just looking in their eyes?
i have.
it was in L.A.
i blinked,
and there was a pregnant pause 



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