Somebody once told me that Canary Wharf looks exactly like downtown Toronto. Somebody told me that there was more chemical energy in a pizza than a stick of dynamite. Somebody also told me that my halls of residence was built from the plans of a Swedish women’s prison and that it’s legal to kill a Welshman in Chester.
I’m indebted to Somebody for this knowledge but I wish he or she could tell me where the shed key is.
as the mice’s you
your sixteen nails on toes
press, in sleep,
into the thigh of me
and dance on pillows,
your tipsy feat
Once I get the courage
I’ll live on my own
In an apartment hidden by buildings
With no purpose or people
Look through the window
And see a jewel toned couch
Sitting next to old grandmothers’ lamps from a thrift store
Atop a patterned shag rug
Soft thriving plants
Will happily drown the walls
They won’t complain.
Cats named after favorite foods
Will be attacking the leaves
And walking through the door each day
I’ll know I’ll have to clean up the dirt
But I’ll never be mad
For I’ll finally have the courage
To be happy
I’ve always loved the word “Clouds”
The way you can get lost looking at clouds.
The way when you’re in an airplane and you sail through them like a pirate out on an adventure.
The way when we were little, we would think clouds taste like cotton candy,
And we could ride clouds like a magic carpet.
The way clouds are so whimsical and light as air.
The way clouds make you feel delightful.
The way clouds are clouds,
And clouds will always be clouds.
People are out again
clustered on street corners
and it’s almost shocking
I see two women in oversized sunglasses
smoking cigarettes over their half-eaten
The lemon cream dusk illuminates
so many pastel-coloured houses
I wonder if the best years of my life
are receding before me just like that
I’m not joking when I say it made me want
Fruits and sangria,
or the taste of a summer yet unspent
Clothes are stacked
in my room, as usual.
I watch them build for years
Then pull apart my teeth
Peel the Sellotape seal
from my lips,
Un-knit my tongue, explain,
Unfold pressed pain
Tug on hems, snagging
the arrogant cloth’s cross-stitch
Un-buckle my belt,
reveal the stomach-soft flesh curtailed,
embedded with stars.
Pull a needle through hems,
Force them loose
Crinkling the fabric in foiled faces, button-words pop
from the blouse draped curtain of my mouth.
Until I’m hurled
Split material dispersed
on a bedroom floor
They come in, turn-take picking me up, sewing me back
But I’m botched,
the colours don’t match.
Stitching askew, textile stained
No resemblance of how I was dressed in the first place.
I always say my summer plans are to rest,
To sleep away until I can ignore The ghosts of the images I keep using,
But the deer will keep showing up at my door no matter how many times I kill it.
Again it will be
My desperate hands in its chest,
Struggling to pull out an angry, hungry heart
With angry, hungry hands
Again I will eat its heart;
And again it will come to my door.
My summer plans are to rest.
from gums red-raw:
A tooth, ripped from its core
leaves a gap
you can’t fill.
My tongue feels around,
spans the width of a blood pool that spills
on the lips we kiss with.
Words and people
are not hard to read
for the same reasons.
Yet, I look in the mirror
see a sentence
of a thousand words,
my freckles are commas,
my eyebrows dashes.
The set of my mouth
underlines all of this
in emphasis or anger:
spill in tears
from my eyes.
My lashes are scribbled
Each clause of my face
has been moved around
too many times,
each word that sums it up
spoken too often aloud.
I have lost all meaning.
I am entirely incomprehensible.
not gone unnoticed
or the wife
both light sleepers
For years and years
The shouts in our ears
That they roared
For years and years
The streaming tears
From the horde
The screaming shouts
All on record
With no doubt
“I can’t breathe”
11 times did he wheeze
“I can’t breathe”
That made us freeze
Say their names!
Say them loud!
These are our aims!
They are proud!
Proud to be Black!
Proud to be them!
When the police attack
We won’t condemn!
Shout their names!
Shout them loud!
Shout them out for all around!
We will not back down!
March through the town!
Shout their names!
Shout them louder than ever before
Because right now
We need to do it more
Than ever before
Emma Theodore Roy
Do you dry your clothing
at the laundromat on St-André?
I like its windows yawning in the sun,
the philodendrons, and the smooth blue table,
wide as a bed, to shake out sheets on.
“I’ve only dried things there once,” you tell me,
“and they were little shrimp”
have a different drying time
than socks do.
But of course, I’ve only misread your text.
You really wrote “a little damp.” Of course
I know there are no shrimp
tumbling to peachy softness on St-André—
but just for a minute—
there is an outside, there
that you are an outside of
It was unusual to spot a pheasant squat still,
from this distance.
We had clocked it from across the paddock.
Fifty clicks away, the
baize and claret twitch of fear.
The majestic head,
emerald cap and blindfold red,
crooked to one side, tracking us with
impossible cockerel eyes.
Traces of blood nearby;
rain-slashed on the long grass,
quickly made black against the
yellow-green of turf.
A three-inch pellet took the spine of its back,
snug between the wings –
out of flap but still intact.
Plastic cone and shocking metal,
a disposable zippo,
crammed deep around the rump.
The half-dead bird was now all gun:
the hunter’s slug deep in the barrel
of a failing body, loaded –
ready to shoot.
Dad picked up a makeshift club.
Stock-still, suddenly infants again.
He ordered me and Paddy to walk
to the next field,
to not turn back,
he’d catch up soon.
When it seemed nothing could be normal any more,
the birds came back.
The birds came back and hopped and whistled and nested
in the blossoming trees.
They soared on half home wind currents,
dipped their toes in striving waves.
The birds came back and pooed on passers by,
and this time it had a slightly different meaning,
and the curtain twitchers smiled.
Amid the fear and the pain and the mistrust,
the birds came back and roosted outside bedroom windows,
woke early the irritable people.
The birds came back and wondered with their bird brains
at the wonder of year round shelter.
They flapped their wing batons to conduct the orchestra of chicks,
and to replace the bass rumble of engines they formed alliances.
The birds came back and played in the streets of the air,
and there they stayed until they went again.
What happened to the toilet roll?
as you spy me
dismounting the porcelain perch
with a simple step.
It’s not the time for acrobatics,
I say. I know we all need
to have our fun,
and stay limbered up,
but a post potty pirouette is
an unnecessary risk
in these topsy tervy times.
grin like a baby for the first time.
Old men tip their hats, I smile;
I am hope on two wheels.
Grey cars can scream at me and
it’s true I don’t really get the roads,
but it should be so easy
to get home on your lungs alone.
Our days were numbered in Buxton town;
marked out for a death-march-cum-stroll,
five years to final throes –
a weekend getaway or on parole? Nothing the
chalk-pastel Peak District could serve up
would ever replenish us.
Pastoral; do you remember Bedale?
The Heights of Abraham? Varicose caverns,
waves of dales, the hills all gnarly.
Scaling tourist parks whilst bobbing
on a cable car.
That was Matlock – another spa
town as counsel, slick our thirst.
But there we bickered, picking at
a tray of chips cobwebbed with cheese.
Fidgeting the sinews of goo apart,
all life unlinked in the Styrofoam.
Between bric-a-brac stops and bars, hoping
idol hopping would push momentum to peace.
A moment by the Derwent river;
kayaks side by side A-road bikes –
sickly leather sights in Derby sun,
making me think Kerouac then Gun.
We forced a face in a
pastiche photo booth for two;
hungover eyes, grins petrified to charcoal lines.
There was Bakewell too;
more taut than tart.
We passed through,
track-skipping on the tape deck,
to help county fade away,
blurring towards the A-road.
An arboretum outside Northallerton –
Thorp Perrow – punched in the last nail.
A local production of Shakespeare’s
comedies as medley; you glammed-up,
over-dressed and it was washed out –
my indulgence, cast as the ass at last.
I make pastry with my mother’s fingertips. Rubbing fat into flour like she taught me. Like she was taught. I imagine those dark eyed ancestors lined up along my kitchen counter. Sharing only baking secrets. I’ll never know Jane had post-natal depression. Sarah dreaded the scrape of his key. Annie preferred wartime. And here I am. Saying to my daughter, ‘If you shake the bowl, like this, it brings up the unrubbed pieces’. There’s plenty more I could tell her. Perhaps I should.
be not broken instead screw changes to walls
undo the chains loose the anchors be a bird
free from the dynamics taught by classroom bores
let only the wind and songs of fidelity be heard
we have but one blue planet and in many.hearts
this place an onion skin of earth is our home
praise the dirty hands cupped around spice
they are in drug shackles to the poisoned ground
in glassy eyes and honest beggary they need
one healthy world celebrate their passion
their suffering is the first crack you’ll ever heed
the spice don’t it make their eyes blue. I am
seeing a blue world besides a blurred word
in between is one mind and survival obscured
My imagination is going to get me
into a lot of trouble.
Sometimes, on a Sunday
when I buy the newspaper
and a pastry,
I imagine the joy of
sharing it with you.
Or when I cook a fancy meal.
We’d go upstairs to watch
but not before
we take in the laundry
to save it
from the damp.
people speak of him in a great fashion
at least, thats what he tells us
even when they see how he’s speaking to us
as soon as their notions of fashion are gone
he’s speaking for them
a great man calls himself a great man
but we’re losing the heart to agree
springs to mind
a man in a riddle, a man so great that he can’t possibly
be any good
Back along bygone lanes
Oozing with gin
In that familiar warmth
Touching his skin
Wondering what it was that
She kept –
But full with the hum of Spring
The fragrance of him
Today they found the ship
Herodotus had described
two thousand years ago
lying still like a secret
under dark waters
silently shoring up his words
with its hard timber ribs
mooring itself, at last
in sight of consciousness.
Will I too be found
in some unthinkable future
will the measurement tape
circle my temples, confirm
that I existed, that I loved
and was loved, that I gave
and was given to –
or will I appear under
clumsy, careless fingers
that have no knowledge
of who they touch
There are so many tabs
open in my head
and none of them will close
I cannot find the one that I need
and I cannot remember what I came here for
a song is playing
but not all of it
just one verse on repeat
I’ll have a lovely, and a coffee
in an attempt to override the
down and grey with warm and black.
Huddled up in this black hole
my spoon stirs words again, at last.
Two lumps of lovely.
If you are in need of some milk in
your universe, kind eyes, have my stars.
The expanse of my debt
is far greater than two fourty.
Nick Lord Lancaster
I assumed people would notice. I’d been behaving weirdly, walking around in a bit of a daze – I could sense that much, even if I was unable to actually snap out of it. I thought someone would have worked out why, would have taken me aside and said, “I know that look – what’s her name?” like they do on television. But nobody did, so it just went on. I gradually returned to normal, eventually lost interest. At some point I realised she was never on the train anymore, she must have moved away or changed jobs or something but I didn’t notice it happen. By then I was back to normal, cosy nights in with the wife, forgetting my head had ever been turned.
A blackbird bobs obscenely
taps his toes on frozen asphalt
listens to a chirping track
of breakup music
He tells the houses how
he once saw lightning strike
a tall tree
and it paled and cracked
before its shadows
were interrupted by fire
He beats a wing
as if that is the punchline
because really he knows
the secret to breaking,
which isn’t a secret
but he’ll say it anyway:
apply ice to stop the swelling.