Poem in Which

Dieter (don’t ask) says: “What’s it like on the moon Buzz? What’s it like on
the moon? Is it like, a-drawn? Like with, a-pencil?

What’s it like on the moon Buzz? Tell us, tell us!”

“We left our detritus on it,” says Buzz miserably, “we left our preposterous colours.”
And Dieter looks neither plussed nor nonplussed.

“We left our flag on it,” Buzz continues, and he mumbles:
“and our shame,” and then even more quietly: “We took a goddamn dump on it,”

and then he lowers his orange-tinted visor with his chunky-gloved fingers
and bows his head.

When Buzz does eventually look up, Dieter sees his own reflection
dressed in its earthling costume coming back at him like an admonishment in the glass’s

delicious curve.

And then Dieter turns to me, and-and-and Buzz turns to me too,
the lickable-kissable bowl of that head of his

all leant up towards me.

He’s smiling I think, a joyous full smile beneath the helmet’s atmosphere.
What an impertinent fish he is, looking up at a kindly though enormously hungry heron!

Mark Waldron

Poem in Which The Panic Is Obvious

I’m flaking formally
gutterballs and backmares
edging slowly towards the moon
medusa legged with rupture
I thought you would be happy about:
coma diamonds
my glad rags already ripped
waiting for a loveless dish
to flutter me in the butter
kaleidoscope days
internet rhythmed
the slapped seal of crisis?
medicine and crimes against ourselves?
panic is obvious
the volume is broken
I can’t keep it up
the candle hot talk
and salt sessions
we can’t all be trendsetters
I’m wobbly in liquid
I’ll entice then behave
a witchy mouth
causing a stormquake
& at the end of the day
it always happens when
you least expect it

Nisha Bhakoo

Poem in Which They Mine the Sun

They scratch the sun from the ridge
like coal, like scrub-pine knots, like the roof
of Sloan’s Garage, the alley that burns
into a police car, pigeons that saunter
across this small grease pit where you trap them.

Your jacket smolders. It’s like most of the sky
pushed from orbit. It talks to you, then me,
like a news anchor witnessing a camera exploding.

You say your grampa who never mined coal
has black lung, has sciatica, bird-flu, weasels
in his ears. They scratch him out of the ground
to tell you. They scratch us out of the ground
to watch the sun roll backwards like a yellow eye
sucked from an egg.

Clyde Kessler

Poem in Which I Am A Geode

I still haven’t turned into a ladybug
but woke up                                  as a geode

swimming across                       an over-saturated lake
where nothing reeks of piss: or of fish: or of lake––
it smells like                   peach iced tea
my vision magnified                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               & blurred
as if warped through                                  yellow starfish:
everything sweet & light                       & sweet & light              like a sun:

a sun englobed by a geode

I am a geode                     as big as my previous body:
occasionally                                                   I crash and rattle
against rocks                 who are less valuable                       than I am.
Everything glitters as if kissed with consciousness
and my skin is still skin
but without structure                                                       or melanin.

How to erase consciousness
if I am still as big
as my previous body
& heavier & more accountable                      & if I must float
across the river.                Quick, quicker.       You say:
geode geode, decelerate

But have you ever lived inside a volcano?

Consciousness is nothing                                   but a nacreous scale on the tail
of the rainbow fish
or the light that escapes                                       my center.
If I had to say two words                                   for the rest of my life
they would not be
                                                           consciousness, consciousness.

Nor would they be
                                                                                     geode geode––
they would be
                                                                     particle accelerator

Aria Aber

Poem in which a girl is dream house sitting

The man is 57, and one day,
standing in his study in her underwear
by the globe that is almost as tall as she is,
she calculates that he is 57 countries
away, depending on how you count them.
It is not her first bra, but the first
she has bought with her own money
and she wears nothing over it until late
into the day and when the sweaty UPS
man brings an antiquarian book to the door
she receives it so proudly that he does
not run his eyes all over her body and
when he gets back into the cab he thinks
of his wife and feels proud without knowing why.
Another day she is aimlessly patrolling
the half-kempt grounds of the estate,
when, under a row of naked, prickly,
arching trees, she finds what from a distance
appears to be a giant hedgehog, but
is in fact, less credibly, a sloth.
Surprise gives way to a new instinct
when she realises it is not quite yet dead.
She thinks vaguely about the Hunt which
trumpets through this land on occasion
as she scoops the sloth up. At the house
she nurses the sloth back to full recovery.
It is her first time house sitting. The man
Skypes her. She is eating pickled lemons
with pesto on water biscuits. He is satisfied
and eccentric. Everything, he says in a moment
of perfect synchronicity, in that beautiful fridge
is yours.

Gence Barbar

Poem in which I don’t get a Kanye West ticket

blow by blow of last evening:
stabbing at artichoke hearts
& a plate of insipid sausages trying
to come up with words to relate
to the flurry of conversation,
turning to her, at a quick glance
thinking ‘Marquez Almeida’ might
be meaningful Spanish as I settle for:
what do the words on your t-shirt mean?
‘oh no, it’s the name of a designer’
oops, I return to stabbing my sausages
it’s not easy to pretend your eyes aren’t
glazing over when twenty-three candles
are ablaze – chanting happy birthday while
bathroom doors shut for round 2 of coke
I remember now, that when one believes
the whole world is yours for the taking
all facts quickly fall in line to confirm that belief
so of course friday’s tickets for Kanye West
are too expensive, god, mainstream music
who wants to be in a queue at midnight anyway
but! getting your hands on every item from
the latest topshop collection is forever ~
fashion week has to be someone’s idea
of an inside joke, behind the curtains
someone is throwing empty beer cans
at voodoo dolls lined up inside a large tv screen:
heaven is 1080p & full of chinese subtitles,
where the popcorn flakes you spit out of the sky
drift ever so slowly towards Somerset House
& is mistaken by bloggers for ‘first snow’
meanwhile in the kitchen my flatmate says
the reason she wants to leave isn’t because a life
in London is impossible, ‘I could get a job here easily too,
you know, nepotism,’ I want to blush on her behalf
but instead I stay silent, I return to my room,
pull the silk blanket over my knees again,
hopelessly refreshing the ticketmaster page;
let us all float on in the insularity of our worlds

Natalie Chin


Poem in which I feed the golden calf

too scared to riddle / the jigsaw of his boyhood / too scared of detonating / marbles as bombs / too scared of / his wrists handcuffing my ankles / stirrups of scar & bone / a boy who wants to be pegged / who wants to be mummified / in broderie anglaise / rooms of coffin-shaped doorways / rooms of sandalwood snakes / rooms drowning / in thigh deep rubbing alcohol / fingers noosed against his jugular / soap bubble clouds popping / behind the tinsel of rain / flutter and throttle / his neck of wineglass stem / his song of a breaking bottle / too scared of shards / that will shred / his tongue down to ribbons of silk / too scared / of the poison ivy / that bloomed / in his mother’s milk

Scherezade Siobhan

Poem in which I may have been captivated by a squirrel

Diseased under the diseased chestnut – I had been excused prayers for evidently God was not the god of those who went home for lunch therefore also excused queuing in line and compulsory hand washing and belonging and the prayers were awful anyway twee and rhyming singsong rhyming things we eat and birds that tweet anyway – I was caught in tall sunshine by a squirrel up and down and up and down bolder and bolder until I moved and stood and watched and then I was wanting to be belated by it and then wondering as I do even now whether I was indeed caught by it or just wanting to be caught by it or wanting to be caught being caught by it.

Kate Wise

Poem in which I dream of Jiro

Perfectly trained, 8 Kohaku koi swim with perfect
synchronicity in front of the bus
oooooo—crimson, bright orange, gold, piano-cream,
oooooosand, grey, vermillion and Marseilles black—
the eighth turns a flat-gold eye towards me
he’s the one driving this bus-show forwards
in the printed shower of light
of hasty late pm raindrops.

This procession o unhappy procession
pushes me onto the pavement
like an old woman!

The barrage of koi swerve in colloidal rain;
more difficult than the task of rain
like clothes well-folded (furoshiki)
like a way of being followed consistently
like flooded catacombs eating a city
like judicial statuaries these fast-labouring fins!

Unwanted, unwanted all of them,
sparkling as orange flutes
playing nostalgic songs of Time
in wreaths of firework-fish-fire.

I pick a thread off my pen-black wool sweater
like the road itself I’m too inconsistent
for their sparkling hard ways…

Yet with the iron will of Poisedon
these water-lit scales brush me
with their goodwill prayers!

I must go home to make something
I must say my metta bhavanas
I must disintegrate my work
and the Sun so sure to show tomorrow
uncurls itself like a print in an attic
uncurls rays certain as woodblocks…

Lucy Mercer

Poem in Which Everyone is Peter O’Toole

I am handed a postcard of a school
1903 in New York
snow in New York
there are no faces in the windows
but all the children went there
from the writing there is a large drama hall
it isn’t a secularist school
but they allow for that sort of thing

some of the children were boys
and some of the boys had blonde hair
now they drive their bikes into stone walls

And the walls look on kindly
at their blond hair
and their bikes

the children might be irish, or english
the children might be stupid
they might be barbarous
but they are all blonde
and they all mount trains
and make speeches, and pose for iconic photographs
but hide their blonde faces from the north american school windows

and they kill

the girls are nowhere
they are safe from the others
who kill only the dark haired boys but none of the girls
who confuse their words for lessons and for the taking of egypt
who confuse their actions for character and for reality
who confuse their lessons and reality for detractors and for tribes

instead of seeing Peter O’Toole
living out his dreams
in the day

Michael Preece