Poem in Which There are Hatters

In which there’s the one at the tea-party.
He puts a dormouse in a teapot.
Then, with as much care,
take dormouse out of teapot.

Poem in which that mad hatter
can’t sit still, keeps moving,
another chair, another plate,
another cup, saucer.

Poem in which there are other hatters too,
a brim of hatters,
all wearing a hat,
all mad.

In which all hatters arte losing their teeth.
In which our mad tea-party hatter
might as well be named
The Soon-To-Be-Toothless Hatter.

Sheila Hamilton

Poem in Which I Think About String

I’m learning
about other
universes
that may
be inches
from this
one, and
how these
other universes
may influence
this one
but they
are invisible,
in another
dimension.
This is
string theory
and I’m
wondering
who or what
is pulling
my strings?
I am
thinking
of Elder
Stucky
from Alabama
who walked
with cane
in Boise
Idaho.
We were
Mormon
missionaries,
at our peak,
but celibate,
doing
the lord’s
work
in suit
and tie,
riding bicycles.
I tied him
to the bed-
posts because
he was
afraid
of touching
himself
in the middle
of the night.
I wanted
to do
the right thing.
I read
the missionary
guide every
morning at 5
and didn’t
listen to
music
or watch
television.
I tried
to listen
to the still
small voice
that was
invisible,
but there
were other
voices,
there are
always
other voices,
that are
invisible,
like other
universes
right beside
this one,
like the layers
of our onion
brains.
There are
multiple
kingdoms
& the top
one
is Celestial.
I am not
going there.
I am supposed
to go
to outer
darkness.
That’s OK.
I don’t
believe in
outer darkness.
But I do
too.
Who is
my puppet
master?
Who is
stringing
me along?
I am chewing
a stringy
piece
of chicken
and thinking
about other
universes.
The universe
is my brain.
I like it.

Marcus Slease

Poem in Which I Consider My Labours

It’s like the cotton mills of the eighteenth century,
he says. Yes – yes. My mouth

is open and tilted, a golf hole. Outside, the students
squall, butting their foreheads

against the dome of the afternoon. I am stunted,
frayed from the defibrillator kick

of early wakeups, shifts that begin in dim morning toffee
and end in the dumb blackout of sleep.

Yes – I’m deafened by the machine’s gut-snap clatter.
Such heat and dust! Such grotesque accidents!

The walls are shored up with staples and knucklebone.
I pack thick wads of student assignments

(my students – that puddle of yellow beaks) into my bag,
and set out into the dark

where my ancestors stand in a wonky, makeshift chorus.
They’re hard-fired, lean as striplings,

got up in their double-darned best. Their sighing’s
the engine of my endeavour;

their sighing’s the bright sting of all my luck,
and ADULT is all about using your anger

just so: kitten piston, slow combustor,
mechanism of the soft intestine.

Kate Potts

Poem in Which I Address My Friend Tony

Even as a child your mother
told me you used to fold the
things you didn’t like inside
a chest. To me, you look like
Rick Moranis from that film
you haven’t seen, even though you
don’t wear glasses and you smell
like a fork. You’re always clean
with a reflective surface, and when
I kiss you, you taste like a glass
of milk. Every time I look at you
I see the same guy that I met
in that coffee shop two years ago,
grip on the handle of his coffee cup
a little too tight. The whites of your
knuckles are still naked to me.

Emma Jeremy

Poem In Which We Fall From Grace And Overcoat

A speck in fog, the wet
Prometheus lights His pipe
and waits among
the dust grains of the shore.
He taps the lost
crabs in His seaweed plush
and checks the belly.
She is female.

Only a turbine wind
now sings the birthdays
of the seas.
Once gods,
now sooted,
we may choke on sea bones.
High froth extinguished
an eternal flint.

Then the curtains
flow long
over a mattress
length’s soft
arrowed three-pronged song
of a Prospect Park loft.
And come comets,
come, to commiserate,
ring the foot
with bangles,
fish the dangling hooks
from our
fawn-white ankles.

Jake Brukhman

Poem in Which The Noose Tightens

after Catullus 97-ish

Jesus wept. You really have to ask yourself
if you could tell his arse from his mouth
with all the shite Aemelius is wont to talk.
His arse is probably the better of the two,
not having so much bite. His teeth like ivory
piano-keys, his gums like welted wood.
Half the lies that man tells aren’t true.
You’d be as loathe to give him credence
as to breathe the steam off a mule’s piss.
Sure, he’s got a certain strut, gets on
like Jack the Lad (& thinks he’s some fella for it),
but anyone who falls for him would be as well
licking a hangman’s tightening noose.

Stephen Connolly

Poem in Which Sequence

In Which I Am Urged to Let Myself Go

There’ll be time enough, elsewhere, to fret
at how the indelicate prosper.
Let’s drink to the whimsy of the jolly-boat,
the evening cavalcade.
You find me garrulous? Then speak.
Even a cuckoo has more tongue.
Quid pro quo. Quid pro quo. Quid pro quo.

In Which Things Go Too Far

The lawn has not been mown in weeks.
It lays there moaning to itself, only I
can hear the rhizomes’ thin green whine.
Everything has a voice
if you pause to listen. Why else do we stop
our ears: phones, buds, muff, cuff, boxed
about the ears. Wheesht. Won’t you just shut up.

In Which We Pack It In and Shut Up Shop

Nothing turns out as you plan; don’t
give me your Easter Island stare.
Mice and men and the praying mantis,
equal prey. And I am tired
of the pelican mother sideshow here.
Get a life. Find a lift, hitch a ride. Stick out
your thumb. Fuck off till the cows and kingdom come.

In Which Dogs Feature Only Metaphorically, Alas

It’s easy enough to break the habit of a lifetime:
I’ll have what you’re having.
My years of simple living chucked out of the window,
gone to the dogs – Borzoi,
Labradoodle, poodle, lap. And the Lapis Lazuli Girls
are in the wings. I’m hoping one will show me
how she does that thing, like Cleopatra, with the kohl.

Isobel Dixon

Poem in Which I Contrive to Convey Most of the Knowledge of Which I am Possessed

…and above which I had come to the Far East
about which I know nothing above which I had hung
the ship’s lantern that could burn the whole night long
across which I’ve always kept the curtain partly drawn
after which I talked privately with Master Hoby against which I have
so often and so indignantly protested along which I proceeded
alongside which I lie amid which I recall “Hop o’ my Thumb”
among which I am the original and primary Vasudeva
around which I paddle at which I touch eternity
atop which I placed an Admiral black-and-white portable
television set my father had given me as a childhood gift
barring which I expected to leave via blow-up vest
before which I was brought behind which I knelt below which
I crossed the river and halted at the Dhurmsala or traveller’s house
beneath which I was confined beside which I kept for
a considerable distance besides which I knew the danger
between which I cannot discriminate betwixt which I have one
from your Secretary beyond which I must not attempt to penetrate
by which I represent the grain of sand itself concerning which
I announce that I have learnt it for myself despite which
I am less inclined down which I had come during which
I have been charged with dereliction of duty except which
I had given away failing which I cannot well avoid following which
I undertook a week of practice for which I am prepared
to die from which I have learnt the mischiefs of such kind
of prosecutions as these given which I (or other people)
would have sense-data of such and such a kind in which I love you
inside which I mentioned earlier into which I emerged from all
those past dreams like which I had seen near which I was with the horse
notwithstanding which I found of which I might dream off which
I made a famous feast on which I’ve stumbled onto which
I project myself opposite which I counted twenty-seven canoes
outside which I now find myself over which I have no control
regarding which I made a representation round which I had to wind
since which I have not had the pleasure to receive any of your favours
through which in past years I had so often entered throughout which
I elaborate on and offer some arguments for the positions I have
here outlined till which I shall reckon my sufferings there for
righteousness to which I have come toward which I projected myself
beyond being towards which I had seen the bullock-hackeries
under which I am placed underneath which I did not know
unlike which I had previously never experienced until which I am
ready to do the duty unto which I do and will refer up which I went
upon which I have formed no opinion via which I come to believe
with which I have been so much connected within which I anticipate my future
without which I can indeed clearly and distinctly conceive myself as entire.

JT Welsch 

Poem in Which An Alarm Is Set

No time is too good
for my alarm no poem
too good for frames
of hours & minutes
at least
……….but you hate my
immediate verse
……….so we clock
off at 7:48 tonight when I have to get
a train out of here

Lying in bed awake
before a 6am beep
you ask me how
regimentation belongs
in the bedroom outside
gimp masks & safe words
& I tell you I love
the finitude of your shoulders
when you are turned away
& the slender fine line spine
which will change in time
……….that it’s the disorder
of feeling up against your body
that I need to block into moments
& memories

I could take a photograph of
everything you do on instagram
to age it automatically before we
get older together ourselves
……….or repeat the awkward-arm
selfie in bed of an accidental captured
elbow & us two crushed together
under the eye of the lens
just to remember this as it is & happy

this will never be
the poem in which history
is accounted for & changed
around the electric tolling
of a slow rousing Samsung Galaxy
……….had we but world, enough and time
& I were Marvell & not
already in your pants
I’d make a point of the snatched intimacies
of difficult temporalities
……….but you’d call me a wanker
……….& you’d be right

I cannot understand love
outside of a line & I do not want
to lose days or years
under you around you or over
so these alarms remind me
of endings……….that as things pass
& are counted
or work against us
you remain intact
& with me
hesitantly……….always

Prudence Chamberlain

 

Poem in Which the sky proves not to be eating the poet

Make out with your poems. Are commonly reported side-effects of loving human relationships. Jonty Tiplady knows. Offering praise effusive. So much so teary bus journeys follow imagining late afternoon chats in basement bars. The Digbeth poem is virtually unknown. Spend whole days on the couch not staring into space rather staring into the most inner recesses of your soul. Find nothing EVER. But radio playlists, discarded. The DJs choose their own records on radio 6. Janice Long’s knees cause Janice Long pain. Remember that criticism re the overuse of real places names in your poems? Hate them for it – all attempts to create and market their own ‘personal brand’. No I didn’t know I Know What Boys Like wasn’t first sung by Shampoo. An unread Frank O’Hara; his Selected sitting unread bar Having a Coke With You on the table. The hardest month being that wherein everything must be renounced. Find how hard the meds hit. Not wanting to eat wanting to sleep but not being able

[oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo]The smell of your hair is not porn

[ooooooo]The pint of Timothy Taylor: Landlord is not porn

[ooooooooooooooooo]The first poet being mediocre is not porn

[ooooooooooooooo The stripped wallpaper (woodchip) in bin bags in the hall is not porn

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooYour face out of focus so close to mine is not porn

Oxford road station: indefinable and made-up. An obvious red-herring. The guess had it either pinched from Jonathan Meades or else sold down the river – some demented piss-head. Which, along with all the onesies of March, was on the short short list; decreed off-limits. I know what my dad would say about demotivation better than anyone else knows I reckon. Imagining the sex lives of strangers: all texting manufactured towards the apology – forgiveness moment. That ersatz closeness. You poor damaged boy. Four things at once with absolutely no offence taken at the meds comment. Restrooms and drunk girls drunk in restrooms at half one in the morning. Home. The Sertraline online discussion forum flashing welcomingly. How vampiric Facebook is –  draining the very life-blood from my Pink Floyd viewing habits. Alec Newman. Eating what the locals eat (though without the slang).  The nastiest filthiest thing you can picture in your mind being a £20 note. Yes. I like it in me. Ooh yes I like it in me. Ooh ooh yes

[William Gaddis: dialogue]

oooooooooooooooThis street I am walking down now and have walked down a million times before is not porn

ooooooooooooooooooooFeelz are not porn

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooLooking like Peppermint Patty – 35 years in the future – is not porn

oooooooYour knees pressed against my knees is not porn

ooooooTravel Scrabble on the train to Preston is not porn

Dead mothers. Wondering ‘comfort or something else this?’ In my life there have been some big things but this is the biggest (probably). In Dusseldorf Irish theme pubs host week long festivals of Barrettiana. Over-subscribed. Tiplady floats in space. Gaze held across the table across the bowl of sausage and mash hands touch. Realising how much only finally. All father father father. Harvest pulp sci-fi novels for vocabulary. Whiff of suburban angst diluted. What is poetry? A list of discrete unrelated things and incidences or something else? Don’t write what you know when you know fuck all she says. Two people sharing an experience as a solid basis for change. I believe in that. And listening to the radio in the past. Drinks and dinner with Frank O’Hara. I will go to Birmingham again this September I expect, yes. Do you still live there Christine? I am so sorry if I hurt you. We hurt each other. Giving way, knees; views of Piccadilly; dreaming of  – of Indonesian cuisine and stomach cramps (unrelated). Not eating properly. Slumped at work, yes; please accept these empty apologies. The sky is not eating me. Under the sky. The colours. I cry

Richard Barrett