Poem in Which God at 1% is Acknowledged

All year, the pile of red bills grows.
The final demands and the urgent requests
to settle this account are rammed in drawers
and shoved behind the clock
till somewhere on the circuit
which links sub-station to socket
a coupling snaps
and the dark is switched back on.
And it’s nothing but relief:
darkness restored and rinsed of light
like white paint washed
from a black cat.
The blare of the chandelier,
the spotlight, the striplight and the LED
masks the quiet cue of the sun bowing out.
Without shadows, without dusk or doubt
there is no prompt to clarify the flicker
of a secret story seen from the corner of your eye,
no need to ask what happens next
and then what happens after that?
This is the answer, mark it with a tick:
the ghost-green hands of a luminous watch
left on a bedside table –
eleven-o-five and all’s well.
In the dark we recognise the blue half moon
at the base of a candle’s almond flame,
and catch sight of the young aunt
who’s writing her niece’s name in air
with the cherry end of her burning cigarette,
who blows a smoky kiss
and is off into the night.

Julia Bird

Poem in Which Our Friendship is a Young Coconut

We’ve been here all day, sitting in the Jolly Butcher
chasing Stella with Teachers

and as the outside dark illuminates the pub
the coconut seller cups our friendship in her right palm;

her elbow crooked against the rucks of her hips,
she raises her other arm and swings.

I slur into the beer mat as her black blade slams the green husk.
Bits fly. Her sickle rises again

as she hacks the inner case and crown
until a crater gapes.

When you stumble to the bar she pokes our friendship with a clean straw
and wipes her fingers on folds of an old sari.

Later, as I trip in the Ladies, she bangs our friendship
on a large stone, spikes it with her knife, lifts,

and smashes it in exact halves. She scoops out the albuminous meat.
Here we are again, spoiling the sweet pulp.

Alison Winch

Poem In Which All The Nouns, Verbs And Adjectives Are Entries From The Wikipedia Page ‘List Of Fantasy Worlds’

You gor me. Boxen in your sartorias-deles
and angeous krynn. Too xanth, too zothique,
as though an erde of bas-lag were termina
under your hyrule. As though I were charn

already. Don’t beklan to me, don’t tir like
I’m lodoss to your emelan blest,
like I’ll xen when you tortall my deverry tarth,
ooo, I’d landover earthsea with you, panem.

It’s erehwon. You’re still melniboné,
your eberron oz and aebrynis quin are still
spira. I nirn you. But faltha your athas
and then you can halla me. Og idris:

eidolon to pern me, tamriel! Harn me til
all my mundus aurbis one glorantha “Eä!”

Harry Giles

The Sea

The man and his small dog performed their shuffling dance.
The crinkly suit the man wore was designed to look like the sea,

his made-up face too, was blue and his mouth, a wet cave
that uttered the crunchy sounds of the sea as well as “crab”

and “anemone”. His hair was white and coiffed in the style
of foam; The man and his dog moved towards the audience

then paused and reversed back again like waves. He, of course,
comprehended his role but his little white poodle

in its blue coat only followed, as waves blindly follow their
predecessors towards the jaded shore. On holiday last month

I was entertained by the action of the actual sea. Each wave
that broke on the rocks at Morte Point was its own show.

Each wave struck its pose and then withdrew, grand
and throw-away, tossed off with the nonchalance of

a well-rehearsed performance, yet always fresh and daring
(or so it seemed to me) in its improvised quality.

The variation was infinite and ridiculous, and there was
a distinct new-agey flavour to the whole splash, as well as a

consistent sense of something magically bogus, a contrived
simulacrum of revelatory meaning.

Mark Waldron


but I only gone and diddled-up the Two of Us, en
plein air and in toto too. And yes, I do still hang about

outside the woods. Hum-Spun, sotto. Riddled, I saw
us once, or I thought I did: a lake, we were, or leaves,

or sticks; kind, spitty, skipped. Dripped, we seemed so
freshish. A Modelled Cough of bone we were, and then

some gleaming gibber, and then some squeak of window
onto a vagabond outside: Trees, sky, trees. We were

unfunny in a perfect way. Contos li masso. Masso li
mono. and time, hung heavy on my hands. I scribbled

so, I daubed solo, always Seemingly Doodling. Also,
these painted slits I make to compensate: out-dropped

my trumped-up innards, boiled meats, but distinct and
all, like wet, slippery books on Subjects Medical, like a

trawled up catch, like a library in a Sunken Ship in which
doc-fish have their offices, in which they have their

foffices. Like so many things in fact. And the watery dust
down there in the damn poor, drowned deep among

the monging sea’s ballooning sulk’s, enormous Blousy
Blossom’s bosom. But oh, Here in the tidy dry only our

terrific bones, and only once upon a time, referred to
honest Clatter. I used their grinded dust for dyeing.

Lantoto. Li conto pontoona. Li Fisca Mattera. Contoto
parato, li pa-ra-to. This is it. This is de-fi-nite-ly it.)

Mark Waldron

Farewell To Bread

The papers said that I was thinner.

In another life, I was a commissionaire,
or caricaturing tourists in some difficult city.

I was thinking Venice was a no.

I shouldn’t heve grumped on Annie, but
I didn’t know her dog had died.

As I’ve said before, no one should cover ‘Life on Mars’.

I was trying to figure a way of putting
an epigraph before an epigraph.

I was a cipher in my own petty system of abandon.

I was wondering how long we’d have to wait for
Tom-and-Alice, which seems inevitable.

I was wondering how much of this could make it into Latin.

I thought of Sinéad asleep. Her sneeze.

I had bidden farewell to bread.

By ‘the papers’ I mean whichever papers.

I recalled what Imo said about size and attraction and felt it
like a gun quite close to my head, by which I mean cold and true.

I was tired of people westering at me,
gimping over their phones.

I regretted promising Greg new winklepickers.

I felt uncomfortable that someone might ask
which of the younger poets I found most attractive.

I was hung and drawn.

When I argued internally, it was generally with you, friend.

I was fond of the Conroys.

I was fond of my own blood, its cameo appearances.

I worried that people called Geier Geier and Faisal Faisal.

I tried to remember the last time I had said ‘no’ to anything.

I thought of when I hugged Charlie and she said,
‘but you don’t like people touching you.’

It was clear I had allies and that was something.

My sexual fantasy about Sally is the least explicit –
not even a nipple, not even a sigh.

I was toying with my chances of survival under the circumstances.

I was thinking of Kathy – new book – but is she happy?

I wondered how Simon sleeps, all those murdered children
swimming in his eyes.

I uninvented the sandwich. I worked on
the square root of my happiness.

I tried saying no. Like this – NO, but no one was convinced.

Roddy Lumsden

The Blue Velvet Tale

I lived in a purgatory called Tartak, in Biznes Centrum, remember?
The beer there foaming like the sea does here. The barman crippled.
The Armenians’ capped teeth gleaming gold. Sesames opening
under the tables for all sorts of martyrs. The only holy thing
the turning of ice cubes into water. Absolut absolving everyone.

We hid in corners, half-naked. Wigs smelling of straw.
In the hands of old Wadim we were all of velvet: Polish birds,
Bulgarian blenders and Russian furs. Now I no longer like
seeing my face reflected in shop windows, I want to return,
swear all I care to in Polish, bite my fake nails, high heels bobbing.

Wioletta Grzegorzewska (trans. Marek Kazmierski)

Christian Rock Stars

For Margot on the occasion of her third birthday

and they mean to tell you how wholly and absolutely
loved you are [by the Father]            how beautiful
and unironically made            How responsible you are

for the hideous death of a man who bled
and breathed, stopped            and started again.
Wearing biceps          well-cut abs            the hair

of surfers           the very most brilliant eyes         They mean
to tell you they love you too               regardless
in the form of their tight-struts             below pink lights

[and words like Jesus]                Putting on sunglasses
and taking them off they love you        will sing
They will give you            an autograph           Accept it

Wayne Holloway-Smith

Poem In Which I Am At One With Nature

A dachshund with such a loss of spring in its step
that its stomach actually touches the ground
as it walks down the long gravel yard,
eats pieces of bread from my palm every day.
We have become friends.

The owner here keeps a cassowary in a large pen
at the very back of the garden.
Every day I watch it move around. It ignores me,
mostly, and it’s feet press into the sandy floor,
letting me know I’m half its size.
Sometimes I think I might be of some interest
to it, but I think it’s looking through me,
plotting a means of escape.
I’m the poster in front of the tunnel.

Over dinner the owner tells me to be afraid of it.
They can’t fly, but they can kill you, very easily.
Its middle claw is the size and sharpness of a dagger.
Best not to go up there every day –
it will think you want a fight.
I ask what the cassowary is called.
She gestures with her hand and says ‘The bird.’

I have fallen in love with the girl who serves us breakfast.
One day I ask for the porridge to be thickened,
just to be able to look her in the eye. She takes my bowl,
nods towards it and says ‘This is the right way.’
as the sun flashes through her red dress,
outlining her strong thighs
as she walks down the stairs, away from me.

I swim through the leaves in the pool with the tiny frogs.
I have never felt so close to nature as when a bird
lands on the sandwich
that has almost reached my mouth and eats with me.
I am smiling absentmindedly a lot of the time.
I’m sure I can hear the trees trying to finish a breath.

Rebecca Perry

Poem In Which I Learn From Twitter

(from an astrophysicist’s un-peer-reviewed press release)

that the universe is not, in fact, fractal,
that there is no ultimately infinite regression,
that there is a scale at which ambassadors
will not be microcosmic, cannot be relied upon
as representative of everything,
that when we fall through time and space
we will not loop a perfect circle,

that if we can find far enough away
we will have found the grail of a breathtaking
indifferent perspective,
that all is not lost.

(from the widely circulated utterances of certain gentlemen)

that some men believe their metaphors
and think sex is a game like a boardgame,
maybe chess for the more traditionally-minded,
possibly monopoly or risk or scrabble,
think a unilateral disinclination to continue playing
or even just wanting to change the board or the pieces or the rules

is an unsporting moral failing,                            think that sex is
a log flume or a rollercoaster and that once the crash-bar locks
for the duration of the ride that’s it and come what may
you can only get off to be legitimately sick into a bin
when the carriage has come in its sweet goddamn time to a juddering stop.

Anthony Adler