Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.
Inspired by SJ Fowler‘s ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets together to create new work, I’ve stolen the notion and begun to collaborate with friends and writers of interest. You can read about the project and see 2013’s poems here, 2014’s poems here, 2015’s poems here, and 2016’s poems here.
Your Pocket in Paris
Kathrine Sowerby & Ryan Van Winkle
Kathrine says: “Writing collaboratively gives you a kind of freedom, a sense of ‘it’s not all down to me’ and ‘let’s go here now’ and ‘I can write whatever I want and it will sound different up against, threaded through, or wrapped around someone else’s words’. Which is a pleasure.”
Bio: Kathrine Sowerby’s chapbooks include Tired Blue Mountain (Red Ceilings Press) and Margaret and Sunflower (dancing girl press). Out very soon is her first collection That Bird Loved (Hesterglock Press) and her book of stories The Spit, the Sound and the Nest (Vagabond Voices). kathrinesowerby.com
Your Pocket in Paris
Berlin, you say, I remember
Rome, I say, you remember
the crossroads and the smell
of song, the ancient footprints
of cooking meat. The last cigarette
and the rubble at the bottom
of vodka drunk from a great height
at the Spanish Stair. Everyone there
turning round and round and round…
I promise, they will greet us like we are
the sofa, the mask, the television – singing
is coca-cola. And your masterpiece is blue
electric blue, the colour of my dreams.
Is it waiting, like the ghost of lions
in the coliseum? Milan is goodbye
to the moon. The moon, you say,
with no money left in train stations.
What next? I remember trying
to run to the top of the escalator
to get us that far. It swung low
looked up at wheels and bells
last night. And it was like a city –
I wanted to follow you south. I wanted
what we once had the map to, to boil
pasta in the street every morning.
I wanted the keys. I swung high
licked honey from plastic, shouted
Relax! And missed. My eye was off.
I wanted to spill oil and watch it
seep into the feather white cloth.
Tranquillity comes at a price. I steal wine
and I wanted to collect faces and pin them
to your hand in the fountain
pulling up wet copper and shove
them into your damp pocket in Paris
where you looked like the sun
looked like an angel that shone on stone
and bones below. Stay still while I draw
the corners of the room, the thing
that made us itch until our skin bled
and stained the sheets. Where is the key?
The money? The colour that doesn’t last
and I am hungry.
My Self / My Soul
Alicia Sometimes & Ryan Van Winkle
My Self / My Soul
My self – limps into the afternoon sometimes
we are perched on the fringes
of the universe, in cramped caverns
of marginalia unable to rush ahead, or move
at opportunity. We lean in closer, mesmerized
by embers from the insatiable flame of doubt.
My soul – always a stranger
who comes to visit at inconvenient times
knocking at the door, saying surprise
surprise, do you have anything hot to eat?
Every time we want to collapse, we let our legs fold
holding heavy unyielding minds, hardbound confusions.
My self – an adult. Knows
how to read a book for information.
My soul – a child still looking
a new, secret, pleasure.
It is a short amount of time.
It is glacial.
It is a concrete, so solid now.
It is a shadow of my shadow.
Maybe we don’t need millions.
Maybe we need just a few
white paper flowers.
My self speaks –
Every time we feel tawny, like some purple word hoodlum,
some upshot with too many full stops. Those days we
believe we’ve defrauded all around us with our bankable bluster
and blunt phrases – our unfathomed blue lagoon of talk.
I believe our dusty roars can fill an egomaniacal sawpit.
I believe the stars are narcissist too. And that the trees
will know hubris. I spend hours tranquilized or annoyed,
can’t get past the beginning of a particular philosophy.
‘I think therefore I am’
and that’s about it.
My soul speaks –
Every time we put our breath into something
every time we blow a bubble or feel our hairs
billowing like a thousand balloons about to raise
up with all the lusty air. Those days when
we go up a few miles and can see
our place in the city, those days we get high
enough to see our place in it all.
Dear Self, gravity gives us mass
and keeps us grounded
it is weak. Lift your hand, you’ve won.
Dear Soul, speak up. It’s like you landed
on the moon and we’re down here waiting
for one good word, one small step.