Oracle

On this / The last morning I’d wake up / With my original body / I put on all my plastic jewelry / I stood by the window / I ate a banana covered in peanut butter / I bled through two pairs of underwear and into my jeans / I texted six people / Begging each of them to fuck me / While I still had / This body / When I started to move / I passed many filthy / Children alone / I received no texts back / I was racing though the Town / I was trying to incite / I was trying to provoke / The same way I repeat / Over and over / The actions that make me sick / I have dug down into myself and found / Nothing / I have lurched my way across this Town to the water and found / Nothing / I stopped eating / I stopped drinking / I wore a steel breastplate / How quickly I became intolerable / Even to myself / I was not permitted to have / The remains of the fetus / Scraped out of me / I was told to pass it / Naturally  / I will leave this old body behind / I will reach the Oracle / I will not ask for a prediction / I will ask to perform an exchange / My old body for a new body / A new body poreless / Impermeable / Unetched / By even / The mark of its maker / I have behaved grossly  / I cannot wait to die / Yes I know this will be  / No real death / From miles away still / The Oracle says / Keep moving / You have seen my face / Before / It has made as little impression on you / As the face of the woman you pay for stamps / The face of the woman you pay for magazines / The face of the woman / To whom you hand a parking receipt / The face of the deaf woman / Who roams the library / Asking you to buy / Her homemade greeting cards / I am panting / I am climbing / The mountain at the center of the Town / The Oracle will be found at its summit / My mouth is full of my own dust / Lines from my own poems / Rise unbidden in my mind / Humiliating me / Making me laugh too / Neon roadside flowers / Tiny stars of chamomile / Moving faster now / Rocks in my sandals / Dust on my contact lenses / Circled by deerflies / Thus far unbitten / The hate I harbor /  In my limbs / My organs / The hate I harbor /  In my eyes / My mouth / The hope of women / Is murder / One man is following me / Could be coincidence / Two men are following me / Oink oink / They say  /  I move through the fair / Wind coming over / Rain coming down / Day of radiance / Beep beep! / Says a tourist in a white duck hat / Moving past me / I recall / The food processor at my restaurant job / Feeding peeled carrots into it / Whole / And finally / When I pass a woman vomiting on the trail / I do not wait for the other pilgrims / To recognize her as the Oracle / And plant a thicket of crutches around her / I pause and cup her tattooed skull / I brush the pollen from her shoulders / I pick a caterpillar off her neck / I scatter the coins of my eyes at her feet

Sara Peters

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Attic Poem

I love attics because it’s the closest you can get
to being backstage in your own life.
The change of air between the mortal world and this:

I love the stuffy attic and the cool.
I would rather take a tour of attics than a holiday.
O vinyl, boardgames, war chests, sepia;

O trauma, obsolescence, broken things.
Standing in the wings I look for some
foreshadowing of you: a photograph of us

before we met on opposite sides of a park;
your initials in two lost Scrabble tiles.
If you dream of an attic it means there is an afterlife;

if you dream of a basement, there is not.
Where does that go after a loft conversion?
We experience over seven million thoughts a day.

My neighbour is a ballet dancer who maintains
he can always tell when someone has a secret:
the brain is visibly, manifestly overstuffed.

They have a 4th bedroom and en suite.
Where do you put everything
you simply don’t know what to do with?

Luke Kennard

Prince of the Blood

Q:

What storm is it
that keeps me listening —
molecular, mythic
unintelligibly dear?*

*Never an answer from
the stubborn dead.

A:

I wish that for one moment I could:

1. relax, weep, be myself

2. forgive, know better, win, undo

3. love properly, keep secrets

4. stop the bleeding

5. forget or overcome

Q:

how to go on
knowing nothing
of what will happen

A:

If I buried you in the fields
I know best, starred with grasses,
they would yield no rest.

You are loud and sweet-pithed
setting meadows afire,
too angry to be dead as such.

Chloe Stopa-Hunt

Paternoster

that night     a wreck     a face    her teeth
beneath   a wheel   her dress         your grief

that night     a field     for deer           a breath
the sound      of bells       a child            to grieve

a name         a womb     to fill     with glass
and dye         its knots     to test     our grief

has mass     will bloom     will burn     like gas
will smoke     a harbour       bright with grief

tonight     a show for     bricks     a tithe
of brass      and dirt     a spine     to grieve

to run     each street       to church     a raft
of ash              raise high     the beams     for grief

R.A. Villanueva

Poem in Which All the Questions Are Answered

Next time, the last time really will be the last time.
The astrology column is written by a computer program in Stoke.
‘Out of the mouths of babes’ doesn’t mean what people think it means.
Where there’s a will, there’s a dead body and a guilty-looking capybara.

For these questions: ellipsis, Smithsonian, South American dish.
If you wait long enough, everything will come back at the same time.
Where there’s smoke, there’s an ex-smoker bumming other people’s cigarettes.
Nothing is made in Middlesbrough but baked beans and disappointment.

‘Tit for tat’ doesn’t mean what some people think it means.
Where there’s hope, there’s a poet with an unpublished memoir.
Acid-wash denim is actually washed in spinsters’ tears and chlorine.
Never underestimate the speed of a hungry walrus.

You can’t hurry love (except at closing time in Doncaster).
Chipping Norton, crêpe paper, 57% of adult men.
Organized religion was invented as a stand-in for hot dogs.
When it’s over, you can pretend you never cared about it anyway.

Jane Yeh

No Mono No Aware, I Mean Bitch Better Have My Money

What a gorgeous day!
I haven’t even left
the house—I just know!
Call it feminine telepathy.
Call it specialesqueish.
Speaking of, check out the inner
red folds of my robe…I know!
Right?! I’s fucking gorgeous today!
Ask the cat. My hair’s yoked
with importantly difficult to-dos
like that pearl-decked turban
from I Love Lucy that was six feet tall
and weighed 5000 pounds.

Hold your head up, Lucy!
A queen bees starts the size
of a worker! What does she do
to grow a body big enough
to populate a world? Does she take
lots of pictures of her own face and SHARE them?
Does she LIKE her own face?
What song does she sing in the video?
Is it about the hive—a Versailles
of golden chambers—or
herself? What words does she

memorize? “My car eats oats.
My mascara is not made of
murdered elephants
and neither are my brats.
I deserve the air of others.
My natural beauty’s mirrored
in the sticky tips of pine needles
and scales of all the salmon.”

That’s deep! Oh, dangit—

it’s raining. I must call
the credit card company.
Yes, they’ll put me on hold,
but I’ll put them on speaker!
I’ll be gorgeous in the in-between time—
rage filling in all the sharp
edges of my bones!

Jennifer L. Knox

THOMAS DALLAM – A TRAGICOMEDY OF ORIGINAL SPELLING IN THREE ACTS

Act 1, Scene 1 – Gravesend

[It is 1599. Enter the celebrated Renaissance organ builder THOMAS DALLAM, downcast & sighing. He is preparing to leave for the Levant to deliver a pipe organ, a gift from QUEEN ELIZABETH I, to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.]

DALLAM: For my voyage into Turkie I have no frend to advise me in
any thinge. . .

[Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH I with items for Dallam’s voyage.]

QUEEN: Item one sute of sackcloth.

DALLAM (sighing): another sute.

QUEEN: Item three shirtes.

DALLAM (sighing): three shirtes more.

QUEEN: a pare of virginals.

DALLAM: a pare of virginals!

[He places the virginals on board HMS Hector. Exit QUEEN. Enter the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE who is also bound by Sixteenth Century orthography.]

CAPTAINE: Anker is wayed!

[Exit the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

DALLAM (sighing): I forgot my fustion britches.

[Exit DALLAM]

Scene 2 – In the English Channel

[Sodonly a marvalus storme. Enter DALLAM.]

DALLAM: (sodon) We did not only louse our pinis we lost our selves.

[finding themselves again.]

We found our selves than we founde our pinis!

[Trumpet sounds. Enter the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

CAPTAINE: No, only our pinis.

DALLAM: We could spare the pinis.

[Enter MEN OF WAR.]

CAPTAINE (assaying the MEN OF WAR): Com the more bouldly upon us.

MEN OF WAR (ignoring him): Com under our Lee side.

CAPTAINE: See the stoutnes of our ship.

MEN OF WAR: Flye away!

[The CAPTAINE gives chase.]

MEN OF WAR: We have almost loste sighte of our pinis.

CAPTAINE: Com into my cabbin.

MEN OF WAR (unwillingly): We woll, we woll (by their speech, Dutchmen)

We are all Amberalls, rear Amberalls & wise Amberalls.

CAPTAINE: You speake good Inglishe.

MEN OF WAR: Let our shippes go. We are nothinge but men.

CAPTAINE (striding upon the spar deck): You are all a goner.

[Drawing his sword he kills the MEN OF WAR.]

I am becalmed.

DALLAM: Onwards to Barberie!

[Exit DALLAM & THE CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

Scene 3 – Reaching Algiers

[Enter DALLAM and his new fainthearted friend MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER.]

DALLAM: It Lyethe close to the seae.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: They have a great store of hens & chickins.

DALLAM: Great store of partridgis & quales.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Great store of corne & frute.

DALLAM: Great store of hote houses.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Greate store of Camels.

DALLAM: & som dromedaries.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Thar be a greate number of Turks.

DALLAM: Both wylde & tame.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: & verrie relidgus.

DALLAM: The weomen goo with there facis covered & have no souls.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER (seeing a snake in a tree): A great Ader. He is even Reddie to leape upon us!

[MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER runs into a thicket of briars.]

DALLAM (turning to the audience): A number of other suche smale matters I will omitte.

[Exit DALLAM.]

Act 2, Scene 1 – Entering the Dardanelles

[Enter DALLAM.]

DALLAM: The Dardanelles. And look, the wals of Troye.

[HMS Hector is met by the Turkish navy.]

DALLAM: Ha Ha their sailes are made of cotton woll!

[The Turkish navy fires its guns.]

And so neare the wals of Troy! The eckco. The eckco.

[Exit DALLAM carrying off a marble pillar from the Trojan ruins which he takes to The British Museum.]

Scene 2

[After many months at sea, HMS Hector weighs anchor in Constantinople. Enter DALLAM who must now attend to the serious business of constructing his organ.]

DALLAM: Open our chestes.

[Enter unexpectedly the exiled KING OF FEZ whose country has been annexed by the Emperor of Morocco. The situation is complex.]

THE KING OF FEZ (looking into the first opened chest): All the glewinge worke is clene Decayed!

DALLAM (looking into another chest): My mettle pipes are brused and broken!

THE KING OF FEZ: It is not worth iid.

Scene 3

[Enter DALLAM who has much work to do restoring his organ after the months at sea. Thirty days later it is ready to present to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire or, as he is known in 1599, THE GRAND SINYOR.]

[Enter first the ENGLISH AMBASSADOR.]

AMBASSADOR: Yow are come hether wythe a presente from our gratious Quene?

DALLAM: I am.

AMBASSADOR: The monarch is an infidell (meaning the Grand Sinyor, not the Quene).

He is a myghtie monarch of the world and you must kiss his kne or hanginge sleve.

DALLAM: ffs.

AMBASSADOR: If your organ doo not please him at the first sighte and perform not those thinges which it is Toulde him that it can Dow he will cause it to be puled downe that he may trample it under his feete.

[pause]

Hee strangled all his brotheres.

[pause]

DALLAM: OK I will come with my mate Harvie. He is an ingineer.

[Exit DALLAM & the ENGLISH AMBASSADOR. Enter DALLAM an hour or two later…]

I have sett my worke in good order. Here is the Grand Sinyor cominge upon the water.

Act 3, Scene 1

[Enter THE GRAND SINYOR in his golden caique & THE SULTANA his mother, in like manner.]

THE SULTANA: I doe not speake, being but a raisine.

[She is anyway thinking of the visit to her garden earlier that day by the English Ambassador’s dreamy secretary Paule Pinder.]

THE GRAND SINYOR: Silence!

[The organ plays. It is equipped with a clock which strikes twenty-two. Then a bell chimes sixteen times and it plays a four part song.]

It is good.

[Two clockwork trumpeters on each corner sound a tantarara after which the organ plays a five part song twice over.]

I wonder at its divers motions.

[The whole edifice is topped by a holly bush full of blackbirds & thrushes which at the end of the music sing and shake their wings.]

Will it goo at any time?

DALLAM: It will goo at any time if you tuche this pin with your finger.

[long pause]

THE GRAND SINYOR: Lett me se you playe on the orgon.

DALLAM: I have a wyfe and Childrin in Inglande. Do not cut of my heade.

THE GRAND SINYOR: I wil give you fourtie five peecis of gould and tow wyfes either of my Concubines or els tow virgins.

[He shows him his CONCUBINES through a grate in the wall.]

CONCUBINES: Wee doe not speake, being but concubines.

DALLAM: At first sighte of them I thought they had bene yonge men and verrie prettie ones in deede.

THE GRAND SINYOR: They are weomen.

DALLAM: Yes & the hare of their heads hange doone on their backs. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: in deede.

DALLAM: . . .a juell hanging on each breast. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: . . .& juels in their ears. . .

DALLAM: In deede.

THE GRAND SINYOR: They are wearing britches of fine coton clothe. . .

DALLAM (thinking wistfully of his own pair in London): . . .as fine as muslin & whyte as snow. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: In deede.

DALLAM: I can disorne the skin of their thies through it. . .

(looking long on them) . . . som of their leges are naked. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR (stamping his feet): My kindnes begins to be verrie anger. Give over looking!

Dallam: I am loth to give over the sighte does please me wondrous well. . .

[page missing]

EDWARD SAID: Run for your life!

DALLAM (putting on new shoues)

[page missing]

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: They have hewed me all in peecis!

[page missing]

Scene 3 – Dover

[Enter DALLAM, MY MATE HARVIE, MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER & THE MEN OF KENT.]

DALLAM: I am verrie glad we are once againe upon Inglishe ground.

MY MATE HARVIE: Sound the trompetes!

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER (limping): Make our selves as merrie as we can.

THE MEN OF KENT: Post horse to Canterburrie.

MY MATE HARVIE: And thenc to Rochester.

DALLAM: And the nexte day to London (he is thinking only of his fustian, a type of cloth believed to have originated in 2nd Century AD Egypt).

THE END.

Jeff Hilson