Poem in Which I Write a Pocket Encyclopaedia of Enlightenment Man-Philosophers (A How-to Guide)

Turns out a babe can be a tree and a god. This can be accomplished dressed or undressed, before or after breakfast (although an over-full and windy stomach can inhibit true understanding).

To begin: Sit on a bench and stare up at, say, a hawthorn in May. Examine your hand, then the blossom – same thing, no? Bend your neck back with an open mouth. Let the sky fall down your throat, into your heart, your cunt. Let it crash through your knees, out your feet into the dogshit-stained gravel path of your local public sector park, and down to the core of the earth.


Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is for you ladeez with a roving eye. Cheating is for slags. Borrow the Leibnizian approach and inhabit multiple possible worlds, each populated by a hench gallant of your choosing. There you can whatnot with whomever. No need to return to your hot boyf with soaked thong and abject guilt creaming your veins. Because, people, you can live in all worlds simultaneously. Seventeenth-century philosophy, what’s not to like?

Ohmygod, this dude was fricking wrong. Here at Man-Philosophers HQ we don’t endorse this soulsucking:

Everyone is separate. We’re all individual. Short selfish brutes everywhere. If it sounds familiar it’s cos it is – plays havoc with the dewy complexion. Count. Us. Out.

Alison Winch

Poem in which I am a valued member of Warpaint

When that not exactly loneliness
so much as aloneness
seeps into a rehearsal
and it’s not the productive gloom
but the other one
then the first thing is to drown it
in noise until the roof beams rattle
and if that doesn’t work
and it comes back doubled
by a fear that everything good
we’ve ever done, even Primavera,
even Theresa’s perfect speaker stack dive
onto hands as soft as water
was set to a click track bleak
and bare within us
well then we simply slide aside
the big door, pad out barefoot
across the warm wide road, a city
concussed with heat, over the sand
and into the steep Pacific,
two steps and away, through breakers,
surfers, our heads aloft
on each scrolled wave,
out until the deeper current
tugs our shoulders, our hips,
wants us in the shipping lanes,
wants our bodies bloated and blue
six hundred miles south
until, to summarise, the sea
aligns with our worst selves
and then we swim in,
suddenly hungry,
carried by the taste
of floating face down
in Laguna Ojo de Liebre.

Joe Dunthorne

Poem in which the girls arrive

No other Sunday for the girls except –

they are cankerous, they smell of stale rice, their cardigans are buttoned wrong, they hesitate to enter the room but look, the eyes that meet their eyes are sugar-water. The girls have hearts as round and flat as plates, they want something to cherish – only came to see, to check – would not normally no they would never never if it weren’t for this hunger, their mealy juddering bodies unable to stand it, the girls stumble in so certain that music is harmless and they are not stupid girls In the dark In the dark they can stop anytime, only squares of tissue paper, only tissue women on spilt cherry juice.

The girls listen, exhausted – The girls are welcomed HOME – The girls will prosper – The girls are such fruit – The girls have their true names squeaked in felt tip – The girls will stand under the shower later with kingdom kingdom kingdom gushing from the tub, flooding the floor, billowing up in devoted clouds but for now here they are the loved forgiven chosen girls the girls the girls there are always more – girls who should begin to sing, who should ask sincerely and raise a hand if they feel, who sit at the end in tight circles of girls and bring their shaky eyelids down and the first prayer a tarantula scraggles out of my mouth.

Annie Katchinska

poem in which she unfolded

& each part / separate / began to live /

there was a satin rage/ in the deepest part/ those romantic ins & outs of her / a
luxurious house for the last excess / of a sumptuous evening / which carried her off into
the darkness / half-undone /

she felt the pressing mouths of shadows / until something like morning /& found herself
so altered /& infinitely more

Lauren Vevers

Poem in Which the Season Turns Septemberish

someone said             leave your rancour snagged on bracken
someone said             inhale yellow wood smoke
never mindaid           iif the path to revelation’s clogged with loosestrife, with Devil’s-bit
never mindaid            If the rock formation in your face begins to ache
this is natureai           plain white-bread sky
this is natureai           silver- washed fritillary uncalled to account
and youe said             your sporting rivalry with a down-at-heel sheep
and youe said             to see who’ll climb the mountain slowest
oh hoone said           i thinks sheep
oh hoone said i           but you’re as obdurate as that tractor in that ditch and
even if                          you meet yourself halfway up already coming back
even if        i                 (cagoule-less, Medusa-haired, stinking of weed)
keep on                        in the rumination contest
keep on                        you can win

Claudine Toutoungi

Poem in Which I Sell You a Dog

Buy a dog body with a dogsoul in it.
You deserve to be licked and mauled
and you deserve a hungry muscular snaking
at your ankles, and you have money.

Oh! Beautiful is the wallet bursting
to fill your stomach with a love
cold as milk, beautiful is the capital
sluiced into the animal that’s yours!

I separate the bodies from the dogsouls
you do not buy.

Jack Nicholls

Cento In Which

Two rooms:
in one, a portrait of men made out of a glass of water,
a wolf in a lifeboat, and a pool.

In the other, you, my love, and a river;
there are sharks in the river and a crow singing a fragment of a song
about our year as insomniacs.

I can’t swim! I say.
The wolf is flirting with a pig; they whisper cute names for each other:
the wolf is a tiny duck, the pig is the sea.

As if we are slow dancing:
you push a fragment of a door towards my head. The crow sings
about a turtle in love.

My love says,
I have been up with the night and fragments of our arguments again.
We swim to the harbour.

Jenna Clake

Poem in Which I Drift Off While an Astrophysicist Tells Me About What Makes His Relationship Work

the morning in the yard, wiping toast crumbs off my jeans.
For god’s sake – I was excited by – let’s call it data.

Imagine a small piece of matter
about my size,

now imagine it’s morning, let’s say 6:31 am,
mist in the conifers, a cuckoo, then in the road, reversing, a car

sure red’s as good a colour as any,
then let us say, spaghetti.

Spaghetti is like the bath overrun:
that’s you or me crossing the event horizon

matter, or Mike so warm on my chest, brooding
he is my very own human electric blanket

the day
stretching out, the windows a string of zeroes.

Let’s say the darker the matter the better the punchline
and memories live on with the length-meaning of n.

There is a kind of equilibrium to sadness
the death of someone so close to you; do eight minutes pass

before it ghosts into you – the pan handle’s heat through a tea-towel? No.
The Northern Lights’ lavender green dust

happens to be the sun, I can’t fill the void.
Flying at 3,000 times the speed of sound,

that’s the way he makes me feel, his self-diagnosing
the tea bag bobs in the water, the Beach Boys upstairs.

Ah, this is your lifeline, it is like the Orion test
booster exiting the Florida cirrus –

this is where your love line crosses –
mine does the same, here, observe,

to kiss you took years of research
there are some things you can explain

anything else
come down to the kitchen and dance with me.

Harry Man

Poem in Which Every Day is Halloween

It kicked-off sometime in September
and nobody knows when it will end.
Mid-December, snow in the road,
and night after night kids keep coming
for another round of trick or treat.
On every doorstep there’s a pumpkin,
soft and green, and in every window
a paper skeleton or the sun-bleached
shadow of a vampire bat. The churchyard
is busy with lovers. Some pot-bellied
Power Ranger delivers the morning paper.
The Jobcentre is filled with zombies.
After weeks of bobbing for apples
my face is a mask of Richard Nixon
and I’ve had enough. I can’t take you
seriously when you say you love me
in a ridiculous Transylvanian accent.

Siegfried Baber

Poem in which a dog doesn’t know why to stay quiet

This is what I want
soft clothes to replace the dirt at 6 p.m.
flowers to ingest even though you shouldn’t
the perfect degree to enjoy standing on grass

This is what I want
pasta with a side of potatoes on top of rice
inside of a bread bowl
white sauce not on the side

This is what I want
a dog that is loud because his voice works and does it well
a dog that doesn’t differentiate bad from evil
a cat that doesn’t care when you’ve been gone for two weeks
This is what I want

a girl to not return my gaze
a boy to not understand what it means to be a boy
a man who does
a woman who is very loud
because good for her
This is what I want

In the short amount of time between going underground for the train
and rising above ground for after the train

The sun has set to pink purple
The sky in surprise colors
You feel like a cool person with arms that seem foreign to you

and safe for you
and strong for you
and how honest of you
if you’re being honest

and Ben doesn’t mind that it’s been four awful months since you last emailed him


and a ladybug that’s stuck inside with you is also just trying to fall in love


and the G train that hasn’t arrived — well, don’t worry, it’s coming

This is what we want
I put my hat on in the morning
I leave a hat behind for you

This is what I want when I am not alone


It’s what I want when I am alone


This is what I want

Fly into me like a strong and bad smelling wind in the morning
Fly into me like a bug that wants to flatten itself to death against the ceiling
Fly into me without an intention or even the physical possibility of leaving

We can live in a moderately temperatured area for one or two years
then we can switch to a slightly worse one after that

Sometimes your body tells another part of your body to lie to you
Sometimes we don’t listen

Michael says he wants to see us again


Meggie says come back
I reply come back home

This is what I want

Sarah Jean Alexander