Friday, 25 February 2011

Two stories - Bobby Parker

Singing in German

Karl tried to cross the street but his dog wasn’t having it. The skinny mutt quivered on the pavement, tail between its legs.

Karl gently tugged the leash a few times, encouraging the dog to follow him with a soft voice, ‘C’mon, what’s wrong with you?’

Passers-by were stopping to watch. Cars slowed down, the grim lunchtime sky reflected in their windows like repressed memories of grandma’s broken glass sandwiches.

It was raining inside every house. People came out into the street for shelter. Karl had a silent audience, their eyes crawled over him like a mad doctor’s fingertips. Under their gaze he felt hot hatred for the dog.

But the dog wouldn’t budge from the pavement. Karl tried dragging the dog but the mutt whimpered and made Karl look bad in front of the staring crowd.

He tried stroking the dog. He made promises to the dog. The dog just quivered and did a piss.

‘C’mon dad, people are watching us!’ hissed Karl. The dog looked up at him, trembling so violently that its fur fell out and it began to look like a frail old man. A little girl across the street was singing in German.

Karl collapsed beside the dog, shaking his head and weeping.

‘Please,’ said the dog. ‘Don’t cry son. I just can’t face the park right now. I want to go home. Can we go home?’.

A fat woman with tall white hair swaying above her head walked over to them. She towered over Karl and his dog, and they quivered in her shadow.

‘What are you doing sat in the street? People are watching you! Can’t you see all these people watching you?’ But Karl and his dog just sat there, staring at each other, until one by one the people started talking.

Wet Meat

Karl opened the shop just after ten. He put the digital scales in the glass display case in the front window, shoved the float into the till and turned on all the lights.

Out the back, his boss had left him a scribbled message:

Why do you keep unlocking the door to the top floor and leaving it open? PLEASE KEEP THE DOOR SHUT AND LOCKED.

This disturbed Karl. He hated going upstairs, and would only risk it if he needed a screaming shit in the broken toilet on the second floor.

There is no way he is the one unlocking the door to the top floor, and there is no one else there to do it. He works alone.

The shop is so ancient that Karl is terrified the ceiling will fall on him if he slams a door too hard or coughs too loudly.

When it rains, brown water runs down the walls, and a strange, foul stench moves around the building like a restless dog.

Yes, that door to the third floor is strange. You can lock it, bolt it, stack boxes against it, but every morning it is wide open again.

The second floor has a grim bathroom at the far end, it has a bath full of toilet roll tubes and a mirror full of howling faces. The rest of the space is used for storing stock such as bongs and growing equipment.

Dead plants whisper to each other on the peeling windowsills.

But the top floor is a mystery. The lad who worked at the shop before Karl told him it was probably full of old junk or something. Or maybe the boss is secretly growing a bit of skunk.

Why his boss thinks Karl would want to go up there is beyond him. Curiosity is not something that bothers Karl. He is a man who frowns a lot – a confused outsider who instigates perplexity.

Just after twelve a girl came into the shop looking for a grinder. Karl smiled his best smile at her and she balanced her cool blue eyes on the twisty ends of his moustache.

‘Have you got an internet connection here?’ she asked.

‘Yeah, my computer is out the back if you want to…’

She followed him into the dimly lit back room. Karl wiggled his freakishly long fingers in the direction of the computer. She sat down and started clicking and typing.

He looked at her: long dirty yellow hair tucked into a hippy hat, bottom lip pierced, clothes all dark greens, gentle smell of cannabis and candles.

‘Thanks for that, I needed to send some information to my dead father. Shit, sorry if I sound a bit weird… it’s a long story. Do you smoke?’ she patted her pockets and probed the lip piercing with her bright pink tongue.

‘No, I gave up a few months ago and…’ he checked to make sure there were no other customers lingering in the shop. ‘Hey, would you do me a favour?’

‘Erm… Sure. What’s up?’

‘I left my satchel on the top floor and it’s got my medicine in it.’ he lied. ‘Could you run up there and grab it for me? I would go up there, but I’ve got a bad leg and the stairs are pretty steep.’

She took off her green army jacket and draped it over the computer chair. Karl grinned and wiggled his freakishly long fingers in the direction of the dark doorway to the higher floors behind the till.

She giggled and disappeared into the gloom.

Karl paced the shop while he waited, his brow tightly wrinkled in concentration. He didn’t know what he expected to happen to the girl. Sometimes he just enjoys doing things to see what will happen.

Two minutes passed on the novelty cannabis leaf clock. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Thump!

His skin felt like a flickering light bulb dusted in sparkling frost.

Another customer came in, a man in his forties who wanted to know if they sold crack pipes. Karl recommended a thick glass one in the display cabinet.


‘Hmm, glass… I just get so wrecked I end up d-d-dropping them, and then I t-t-tread on them and get g-g-glass in my f-f-feet’ the man stammered.


‘What’s that n-n-noise?’ asked the crack head.

‘I’m not sure, it’s been freaking me out. I tell you what, if you run upstairs and check it out for me, I’ll give you a pipe for free. A crazy cat probably got in and decided to trash the place.’

Karl wiggled his freakishly long fingers in the direction of the dark doorway behind the till.

‘And you’ll give me a pipe for free?’

‘Yep, any one you want.’

‘Will you throw in a pack of gauze as well?’

‘You got it!’

The man staggered into the doorway and made his way up the stairs.

‘Hello?’ he bellowed as he approached the door to the second floor.

Karl leaned over the till, stretching his ears out with his fingers so they picked up every sound. ‘Hello?’ he heard the crack head say, slightly quieter this time, as he climbed the stairs to the third floor.

Then silence.

Karl could hear his own heart beating like a size thirteen shoe rolling down a hill.


More silence.

The phone rang and Karl almost fell over the till. He ran into the back room and picked it up, ‘Hello, Stoner’s Paradise. How may I help you?’

‘Karl!’ spat his boss on the crackling line. ‘Did you get my message?’

‘I got the message, sir.’

‘Good, because… because… huh? What? Hold on, my wife is having a fit…’ Karl heard the receiver drop onto the floor and the sound of wet meat being slapped over and over again.

While he waited he picked up the girl’s green army jacket from the back of the computer chair and buried his face into the dirty collar

Bobby Parker was born 1982 in Kidderminster, England. He was selected as Purple Patch Small Press Poet of the Year in 2008, and his work has been published in various magazines in print and on-line. Bobby crawled his way through nightmares and freakshows to bring you poems and stories that have so far been collected in his new book Digging for Toys (Indigo Dreams Publishing) which will be available very soon.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Some Reviews

Jonty Tiplady
Zam Bonk Dip
Salt Publishing, 2009
reviewed by Andy Spragg

Choosing to engage with excess has long stood as a hallmark of a kind of poetry that tends to be labelled – sometimes pejoratively – as 'experimental'. As poetic strategy it is often embedded within a particular slipstream of theory; an acknowledgement that the poem's frame is one that inevitably works to exclude a variety of dialogues in favour of developing some form of narrative or epiphany-driven coherence. At its worse this exclusion creates a totality anchored in the tediously domestic, a sort of complicit agreement between reader and writer that asserts an absence of linguistic or thematic challenge. If such an approach defines itself by its ability to disregard the incongruities that hover beneath the surface of language then Jonty Tiplady's book forms its refreshing antithesis. He is all about excess, both linguistically and thematically. As a poet he evokes JH Prynne's 'Nearly too much / is, well, nowhere near enough' from Down Where Changed, an desire to engage with such a vast and eclectic range of stimuli that the poem's frame strains to contain it all.

Zam Bonk Dip collects together a number of Tiplady's chapbooks, and serves as an excellent showcase of his distinctive approach. The writing is defined by a technique that manages to be doggedly consistent without losing its innately compelling edge, a style that takes its cues from the saturated language of both the media and the internet. It's playful, funny and highlights the hyper-speed tenacity with which our vocabulary currently evolves. This is no more apparent than in the third section of the title poem, where Tiplady exclaims '{...}anoint the/blobject beckoning on the Olympic Stadium.' ('Zam Bonk Dip') He could well have pulled the whole thing out of a Guardian article on Stratford's latest folly, or from a comment posted under a Youtube clip, or found it amongst the quagmire of writing that populates blogspot – he may well invented it himself – and in that fact lies the most engaging aspect of Tiplady's work. It is full of such moments, and yet it manages to be tender as well: 'It's always time to sing again/careless soul.' ('Zam Bonk Dip') Here's Whitman's contained multitudes, albeit shot through with a twitter-feed attention span.

Tiplady is not the first of his contemporaries to make gestures towards an inclusive meshing together of high and low culture by any means. In fact, case could be made that it is an overly familiar strategy, even amongst the more 'mainstream' poets of the day. Luke Kennard (with whom Tiplady shares Salt as publisher) demonstrated an ambitious scope in source material throughout The Harbour Beyond the Movie, however his usage conceded to a certain authorial flourish, a sense of the writer signposting his own reading list. With Tiplady it feels like a natural extension of the language, the mode of expression itself, rather than a contrivance or device.

Another thing that distingushes Tiplady is his comparative fearlessness when it comes to the 'low' culture component in his writing. It's hard to imagine Kennard writing, 'I met this girl the other day, she had a nice ass. I wanted to tit-fuck that ass.' ('Dear World And Everyone In It') Taking such a line out of context is unfair as it strips away that which frames it; it does, however, highlight the intrinsic value judgements that usually deflate a poet's decision to engage with excess, that they tend to be guided by an unconscious aesthetic conservatism. For Tiplady no such reservation exists, or if it does then it plays out beneath the surface; his usage of such difficult concepts draws attention to the dialogues that infiltrate deep into culture. There is a curious double logic at play. Internet pornography's popularity embeds certain linguistic codes into the cultural strata, regardless of where the individual may stand morally; likewise when Tiplady exclaims 'LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE' ('OOV'), it is impossible to not know who he is referring to. There is an affirmation (a word that Tiplady charges with particular significance in 'Dear World and Everyone in it'): here are the dialogues, now what shall we do with them?

For all its heteroglossic intensity, Tiplady's work manages to describe patterns of love and human relationships in a novel and emotionally striking way. The poems that demonstrate real success are the ones that manage to contain elements of genuine tenderness in the narrative voice; no mean feat when you consider some of the aggressively chauvinistic language Tiplady's chosen to incorporate. Lines such as, 'and I love you, through to/pieces of heaven{...} give me my conker back' ('Manic Milk') are demonstrative of Tiplady's desire to communicate something of love, something of communication itself, through his fractal language games. It's the striking tension between these two that sustains Zam Bonk Dip throughout, a want for clarity amongst an excess of signification. Tiplady's success lies in his ability to make this a compelling exercise; one that acknowledges its own inevitable failure, but is no worse a read for it.

Sandra Tappenden

Salt Publishing, 2007
reviewed by Joshua Jones


Sandra Tappenden’s second collection is a wilfully idiosyncratic, forcefully contemporary and strangely confessional work of fractured lyric and prose poetry, riddled with absurdism and wreathed in irony. It is for all of these reasons that it, initially, is a compelling read, but upon closer inspection reveals itself to ultimately be lacking in force. While she has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of striking imagery, her phrasing is always cocooned in a rather banal safety net of irony, and while she is evidently aware of the difficulties of using language, particularly in light of the philosophy of the 20th Century and poetry since the Language movement, she seems content to merely present an awareness of this, an acknowledgment of its difficulty{1}, the – “constantly uncapturable” (5) – before retreating from the danger of meaning into the supposed prevention of criticism that is blank irony; or, more irritatingly, into Bridget Jones-esque domestic singledom. In ‘Blame’, following on from the above quotation:

Tenuous moral concepts depend upon
where anyone stands. It’s easier
to lay down, groovy-single,
playing the same track
over and over.

True. But surely the role of poetry is to resist the easy option? Of course, the poem from which this is taken can also be read as ‘giving in’ ironically – earlier in it the speaker makes reference to her “compromised heart”. But where does that get us? For a collection entitled Speed, Tappenden really is often a quite lazy writer, happy to rehash postmodern poetics, sprinkle in a bit of self-conscious idiosyncrasy” (“I’ve found it helps to carry an egg in pocket” [1]) and trite, ironised confessionalism, and voila, we have a book of poems happy to sit there not really doing anything much other than chasing circles around itself.

Which is not to say the book is without merit. On the contrary – her imagery at the very least creates the illusion of singing with movement and vitality. So why not apply the same exuberance to content? In a characteristic line, again from ‘Blame’:

Naivete is forgivable when both parties
are unaware they’re innocent.


The story now has gaps where once I knew all the lyrics.
There are clues here in a lyric full of holes.

(‘St Swithin’s Day’, p. 16)

In a long sequence – ‘Matthew Arnold Refuses To Exit the Building’ – Tappenden somehow manages to create what I can only describe as a pastiche of pastiche{2} . The second in the sequence (‘To behave repeatedly like an idiot does not mean I am an idiot’):

All I can think to say is that if I had a hammer
there’d be one less cat in the world or I’m sorry
I seem to have confused you with my dad.

But it’s not really a shop, it’s a mist-ridden 7 a.m.
Sunday boot fayre where you rush up in red or dead
hangover shades with a fiver for a something lovely.

It takes moments to realise crucial pieces are missing
but hey you say it’s all part of a long game
a bit like bridge or that other one called crevasse.

To which all I can muster is a yawn. Throughout the sequence, cats and arrows and other deliberately blank signifiers appear, their sole purpose being to relate with one another to produce the implication of a possible meaning, one that clearly isn’t there; but even this isn’t done with a purpose, with a political or philosophical aim the way the Language poets consistently did. Instead it is simply being ironic for the sake of being ironic, behaving like an idiot for the sake of behaving like an idiot. This is a poetry which seems terrified of even the possibility of having to engage with anything beyond banality and pointless circularity. More than that, she seems to actively have little faith in her own medium. References to poets and poetry abound:

Where does anyone live nowadays?
Certainty is a product like anything else
and poets are not much use are they
I often think I overhear someone say.

(‘People who are drawn to take free stress tests’, 42)

If I tell you the sunset is salmon topped with grey...
[a long breathless assault of imagery follows which is actually pretty decent]{3}
call me a liar will you

(‘Mastery’, 4)

I should like to be rigorous without seeming pedantic.
I should like to drink the Indian and the Atlantic.
I should hope. I do, but I’m howyousay? compromised, so.

(‘There must be something in the water’, 55)

Once upon a time being a poet meant more

(‘The unexamined life is not worth living’, 65)

And so on.

Tappenden knows how to write appealing, infectious, bouncy, exuberant images and how to play with enjambment and to deadpan &c&c. The problem is her poetry takes failure as failure, and despite all its energy it seems to me it has little faith in the concept of movement{4}. I’d recommend not bothering with this collection. Kennard’s nailed contemporary absurdist, ironic and distinctly English poetry that is actually doing something and believes in itself; Speed, on the other hand, is fluff.


1.  "to state the difficulty, to state the difficulty of stating, is not yet to surmount it – quite the contrary" - Jacques Derrida

2. I picture Fredric Jameson hitting himself over the head with his own book.

3. The parenthesis is, in case it’s not apparent, mine. (I also happen to think it would, if developed, make a far superior poem to the one that is actually there. But hey, that’s just me, right?)

4. For a nice summary of what I mean by movement see Neil Williams’ essay here. It is of particular interest in its situating its discussion of movement in Plato’s philosophy, which serves to reinforce and further explicate notions of movement familiar to readers of Heidegger and Derrida.

Jim Goar - Seoul Bus Poems and David Gewanter - The Sleep of Reason
by Rovert Van Egghen

Urgh, I thought, when presented with Seoul Bus Poems by Jim Goar. A collection of poems, most of which, according to the blurb, “began on a bus, [one] began in Bangkok, and others in rooms in rooms between Yonsei University and Bongwon-sa”. No doubt there will be a lot of gap yah anecdotes and half-baked political pieties in a bubble-wrap of self-righteousness. Fortunately, proving that old adage about books and covers true, I was wrong, very, very wrong.

Seoul Bus Poems is a subtle collection, and indeed at first reading it can seem rather flat and uninspiring. Opening with “I don’t want to write / about leaves. The change in / seasons. my love”, almost begs the response of well, good for you. It also does not help that Seoul Bus Poems contains some absolute clunkers: my favourite being “Just do me a favour, my suicidal rose / And get of the ledge / You’ll kill the dirt if you fall”. Emo angst has never been done so well. Yet it would be too easy to dismiss Goar’s collection as the kind of poetry the ‘experimental’ kid reads at your local Open Mic.

The key to appreciating Seoul Bus Poems instead lies in appreciating the sounds of the words on the page, the dances with language which Goar undertakes. Lines like “breaking little rakes akimbo” and “blocks of western migration / lemon rubbed teeth of cicadas” roll around the tongue, and sound fantastic when read aloud. What Goar is doing then is creating a sensation of sound, a Cageian clangour of percussion in a most wonderful impression of the noise of a bustling Seoul. What does “lemon rubbed teeth of cicadas” mean? Who cares? What matters is how it sounds, the way the sound of a city rises from Goar’s words.

These poems appear then like little sketches of an environment, fleetingly viewed from a bus window as the landscape passes by, already gone before it can be comprehended. It is this transparency which gives Goar’s poem their curious lightness, There is a fluid lucidity to them, as images are revealed with all the vividness of rememberance. Witness:

        Opera of Korea

             fish in the store     window

                red lights

                    and around      more

                        red lights

Simultaneously a capturing of the fish viewed, the baffling uniformity of a city at night, and the sense of journeying through a city at night, Goar is able to create a challenging urban perspective through his masterful formatting and economy with words.

Goar’s collection then is one which promises little but delivers lots. Its loose fluidity means Seoul Bus Poems is unlikely to stay in the mind days after reading, but it does provide food for thought, evoking a landscape which is slipping away as it is being seen. It is, as Goar puts it, “a map under glass remembering”.

If only the same could be said for David Gewanter’s The Sleep of Reason. Again proving that old adage, The Sleep of Reason sounds great, promising “alternately delightful and startling poems” where “allegory comes alive” and “Gewanter’s delicate musicality and keen sense of humour sparkle”. Instead the only sound to come out of the collection is one big cumulative yawn. By the end of the collection, I felt like a cheerleader who had snagged a date with the star quarterback, only to find out he cried when we made love.

Not to say that our star quarterback does not have some good qualities; his hair is nice. And the concepts behind a lot of Gewanter’s poems are promising. ‘Gag’ is about a comedian who eviscerates his family for laughs, which could, indeed should, be fantastic but Gewanter does not so much press the moral of the poem as slam it in our faces, ending with “Should we call it art / just because real people / get hurt”.

This also occurs with the last poem in the collection 'Hocus Pocus' which begins with a quote from Mariah Carey. However, apparently Mariah is not enough name-dropping, as soon Cassius Clay, Adam Ant, Mr Graham and, inevitably, Oscar Wilde appear - none of them adding anything to the poem, other than giving it an air of burlesque comedy which jars with Gewanter’s moral about mortality and “the Angel / hustles back to the girl’s bed”.

The poems in the collection which are more focused, such as 'Cobbler’s Children and Divorce' and 'Mr. Circe', work better as instead of seeking to entertain, confuse and lecture us all at the same time, Gewanter demonstrates an effective tone. However, there is something flat about much of Gewanter’s writing - a lack of energy which means that what might be “an offbeat satire for an off-kilter age” is actually bloody boring.

Gewanter seems to possess neither an ear for the musicality of language, nor a mastery of form. Most of the poems in this collection take a vague free verse form, and on the rare occasion that there is a bit of variety, One-Page Novel for example, it seems tacked on and redundant.

The Sleep of Reason then is a disappointing collection. It sounded brilliant on the blurb. A poem about 100 rabbits with herpes?! Bet that’s brilliant, funny, quirky and off-beat. Well it’s not, not even a little bit.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Two Stories - John Osborne

The Japanese Restaurant

On my lunchbreak I walked past a Japanese restaurant and saw my friends at a table by the window. They were laughing, drinking; I had never seen them so happy. The same time the next week they were there again, the same eight, my closest friends in the world who I loved spending time with. The next week they were there again, this time I went inside and out of sight of their table I talked to a waiter.
'How long have those people by the window been coming here?' I asked.
'Well I've worked here for a year and they were regulars when I started' he told me, folding a serviette into a swan.
'Always the same eight people?'
'Always the same eight people' he said and asked me to leave.

The next week I arrived as the restaurant was opening.
'I have a favour to ask' I said to the same waiter, who was hoovering the foyer. 'When that table of eight eat here later will you eavesdrop, write down everything you hear and I will come tonight and you can tell me.'
'No' the waiter said, wrapping the flex around the handle of the vacuum cleaner.
'Please' I begged, and watered the plants as he polished the knives and forks.
'What were they talking about?' I asked that night. The waiter and I were sharing a cab home after realising we lived on the same road.
'I cannot tell you' the waiter told me.
'I need to know' I said but he shook his head and remained quiet for the rest of the journey.

'I'm desperate to know!' I said the next day.
'To be honest I didn't hear much. It was hard with the sound of laughter and popping of Champagne.'
'Okay' I said, and his wife handed me a towel and I thanked them for the use of their swimming pool.
'But here's what I think' the waiter told me. 'This isn't about anything I heard, but it's how I feel sometimes around people I know. Maybe you take your friends for granted. Maybe you are happy to take their compliments and invitations and advice but reluctant to give anything back. Maybe life is easier for them without you. Maybe you aren't generous enough.'

So I invited them round to my house, all eight. I bought Champagne and port and cheeses. I cooked Japanese food and watched as they prtended to struggle with their chopsticks.

They couldn't stop tickling each other

They went to restaurants because they hated doing the washing up. They always followed the same rule: they would never order for themselves. At first they would just pick for each other from the menu. When the novelty of this wore off, they would ask strangers to chose for them. One time they invited another couple to join them at their table and they all ordered for each other.

They had one favourite restaurant, where the waitresses knew not even to give them the menu. In the kitchen, the chef would be told of their arrival, and he would prepare their secret, special dishes. They told him to create whatever he wanted, neither had peanut allergies and both quite liked seafood.

Soon the restaurant got rid of the menus completely, every guest followed the same rule, the chef decided the dish they would eat. Every single plate was returned to the kitchen empty.

They always read the same book at the same time. Next to each other on the settee they will turn the pages as one. They have a four poster bed. Once they had a pillow fight, and rose petals fluttered over the bed instead of feathers. When they ran the bath, champagne came from the taps, despite being connected only to a water tank. The plumber was baffled.

John Osborne has had two non-fiction books published by Simon&Schuster. The first, Radio Head, was broadcast as Radio 4's Book of the Week in 2009. The second, The Newsagent's Window was published earlier this year. He has had poetry published in The Guardian, The Rialto and The Spectator, and his first pamphlet, What if men burst in wearing balaclavas was released earlier this year, published by Nasty Little Press.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Four Poems - Joe Dresner


I feel as though your name should have an accent
hovering over one of the letters like a little hat.
The pair of sharp droll consonants are tempered
by the cool clipped vowels as strawberries are tempered in cream.
My memories of last night are as fragile
and unreal as fingerprints.
I hold the memory of last night as you’d hold
an egg in a spoon.
The buildings flank me like soldiers.
Everyone is jealous of me and you.
Cecile, I have become reckless,
buying wine, sandwiches, clothes,
I am reckless at pedestrian crossings,
narrowly missing a car. I’m oblivious,
as if I were engrossed in a good book,
a book called Cecile.

Swagger: A Portrait of a Cavalier

Leather. Sexy. Chiffon.
Some serious Carolinian bling.

First the doublet, a justacorp, silk sashes, pink on white,
a lesson in studied negligence, it fits so clumsily
it looks as if it could collapse at any moment
like a poorly pitched tent. The ruff, declining over
the neck and shoulder is made of lace so fine
it would fall through your fingers like water.

Silk. Pearl . Crepe-de-chine.

His beard is as trim as a magician’s trick,
the hair tousled, neck length. The lovelock, a single strand
left to grow down the back, is Rapunzel's wet dream.
Now the hat, a cocked capotain, is as wide as a shield,
topped with some ostrich pluck,
the sort of hat you could bury your head in.

Cambric. Fuck me. Taffeta.

Satin black breeches, skin-tight, set off his thighs.
Then a pair of bright hosed boots, gay and expendable as soldiers.
Each boot has a buckle fit to bind a giant’s belt.
Each boot has a ribbon rosette like an exotic sponge.
The spurs look as soft as gold.

Charmeuse. Camblet. Kiss-me-quick.

But he is eighteen, perhaps twenty, and his pale blue eyes
leave it open as to whether such a discernable swagger
was on account of a conviction or a doubt.

The End of the Affair

I remember that in the Capital
            they have trees along the side of the road
with perfect right-angle corners cut
            in to the leafy dome their branches form
so that when double deckers go by
            the tips of the trees’ outmost twigs avoid
the sides of the buses so neatly
            it is as if they were breathing in to let them past.


Being both vain and deeply insecure she would hijack every Christmas by hiding in bed all day strapped into her defibrillator, conspicuous in her absence. I remember a silver platter at the centre of the dining room table holding the remains of a denuded turkey. Bits of glistening skin like pads of makeup, the rich bones like knuckles of lipstick, cartilage thin and feathery as mascara sticks. “Kiss your sister goodbye”, she reminded me once, “you were close when you were little, you shared the toilet together, both sitting on one half of the bowl.” Even now the smell of filter coffee and perfume stalls in department stores will remind me of her cheap glamour, the aroma overcoming me as tears will overcome mascara and compose the powder into ink. Regrets become apparent. Debts make themselves known. “You will need your family one day” she warned me, before offering me a pan as I left for University. As if I might use it to sift for something in my father’s final words on the matter: as she was carried out in her coffin, her lungs finally done in, he whispered “she’s not in there”, which I have taken as figurative rather than merely literal.

Joe Dresner is a 23 year old poet from Sunderland. He works at the Royal Academy of Arts as an administrator in their retail department. His work has been published in magazines like South and Fuselit and online at Cadaverine and Pomegranate.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Two Poems - A.W. Singerman

My My

My my has been held
up if you could please
yourself at least one
time of us would not
stand shaking. Still
who can resist a lie
spread so flat it is
truly impressive?

More Like It

Start then
I mean now
I mean I do not mean
I mean - come on

listen close
the door is shut

the wind rhymes
with tighten
if you just

start now
now start

Alex Willie Singerman is a poet and songwriter based in London. His work has featured in publications including Streetcake, Anything Anymore Anywhere and Erbacce. A collection of his poetry, entitled May, was published earlier this year ( and his new mini-album, Some Songs In Green Pen, will soon be available on 

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