Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.


An Elementary Sequence in Four Parts



The jar returns to the well till it breaks –
i heard her saying that soft as water
without knowing how hard
water could be
Crickets cry their song again
you know the song it goes on
and on remember me when all is gone
The water near my house is often yellow
the water of my father’s house is grey
my love’s water is red she calls it blood
She says It is easy to make a list
of what was lost
or who was abandoned;
chocolate melting in the sun,
stones baking in the heat,
water black below light.
and lights are dim as comes the night
So, you broke a jar, so what, he says
you gonna buy the blouse
will I write all over it
the black waters blues
You gonna invent the summer
and break the days which ran away
and for good over the sweetlife hills
It’s easy to point the finger
it’s easy to make a list
of all that was lost or who’s to blame, i heard
her say, as if anything is different when you fall



It gets complicated sometimes
the air is a desert
with no sound
It gets easy sometimes
the water is warm
do we fly or should we dive in
to the yellow forest of thoughts
growing on your weary little hands
birds of those woods
know it is time to sleep
despite pigeons racing
tiny worries
on their legs,
the sky; a whole net of stars
as if romance was something
we had never done before



The wind slams the wood
door closed like a mouth
slapped in the rain
Quiet night with no lights
The fire begins inside
an old dry mattress
rolls over and hugs
the whole house to ash
Where does one go from there
Like you want to go anywhere
What will they think of you
when your loving
misshaped body is found
forming this coal metal thing
will they be able to tell what is what
it is easy knowing nothing
with the lights out i was just a normal guy
and then I woke up and was
still just a normal guy
seeing half a woman
who thought she was seeing
two men and all was right
with the world. Night. Ships.
Stars. Water with wind, later fire
soon the earth
which I’m told, we will inherit
when you are dust
who will separate you from the wind



No man can die twice but the grief
we cause returns like a sweater,
can be mended. And dirt can fill
that hole with short breaths

of intention between panic
and thrill. And like those hints of pain
the earth has neither a beginning
nor is an end getting close.

What has been spoiled
through man’s fault

can be made good again
through man’s work. You knock
on the walls to call out the ghosts.

And you’ll throw a pebble

down a well just to hear
where the bottom is
but it just keeps going

for so long you remember a crystal
and it’s never there when you need it.
Some summits carry names, stall minds

but everything we need to know about time
is in the mountain which has moved
slowly around the earth again.


Ryan says: When Mesa and I started this, I didn’t realise how fast and good it would be. We started with the water and finished with earth in a drunken night of back and forth email between Edinburgh and Nicaragua where he now lives. We had no intention of doing a sequence of any sort, but I think we both enjoyed the volley so much we couldn’t stop. The last time I saw Mesa it was at a bus station in Sarajevo. I was wearing stupid sunglasses. He, as always, looked excellent. You can find out more about him on his webpage.

Mesa says: It was natural, our writing experience. Damn, we should write a book. Tell the publishers to find us. <and the glasses were not stupid, they were full of love (parade)>

– Read More From Commiserate 2013 –