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Commiserate — April 2017 — Dave Coates

April 27, 2017

On not being asked by anyone

Dave Coates & Ryan Van Winkle

On not being asked by anyone

 

I

sunset breathing fire
dangerous toxin levels
in the atmosphere

oh snowflake, embrace
the 19th century, feel

how nice it was, how nice

and it must be nice
to accept god’s silence

to grab what is yours
right off the shelf

amber boxes of grain
land of pilgrim’s pride
sorry, this soup
tastes of corpses

sorry
you have not emerged
as a significant
force

 

II

 

Moloch, what do you say to the colours on the street
Will they sing their purple songs till their faces are blue

Do you want to make a bet, Moloch, did we win
are we winning, Moloch! Losers! Haters! Poison!

Greased coins slip from our fingers! Moloch! Them women
ain’t going quiet!  It’s them Russians, them big bears, Moloch
you can wrestle. Moloch! Not weak! Not low energy!

Sad! It’s Sad!

Children wash up on sand. Chi-na children.
Syrian children. Are you scared of the beach, Moloch?

 

III

 

EU academics should
make preparations to leave,

we found three earth-like planets,
it is warm for february,

it is warm for mittens, for wooly hats,
for sheep in the meadows, for suckers.

My shoes need laces, they say
pull up your pants, wear a belt.

The world is elderly, the world has been elderly
since before you were born, my dear.

I hardly recognise you. That shirt, that colour
doesn’t suit you, I no longer trust your mustache.

This isn’t talking. This isn’t saying.
This is a fact. This is opinion.

Don’t call me sucker.

 

IV

 

sorry, i’m trying to stay
professional here, i know
there are children watching

sorry, this is traditional
sorry all this has a
grim familiarity

 

V.

 

we are living. we aren’t doing much. we were all sitting around.
a pack of poets finishing the black wine, dipping bread
into squid ink. and, of course, somebody says Syria,
and of course someone has an opinion. you see, we’ve thought
about this. we are sensitive and international. we know the news
from all points of the compass. we are whalers. we are at sea
for months at a time.

we are in serbia but the serbs are not talking about war.
but the dane is describing sleeping churches.
but the spaniard is articulating an algorithm – saying capacity capacity capacity
but the romanian sees refugee children with new schoolbags
but the american stays quiet because she is stoned. she went
out to the bay and watched lights twinkle on ripples.
but the greek breaks and reminds us there are bodies
washing up on the shore and the young boys in service
have to pull them out, line them up, count them
every day there are more numbers

so someone says ‘what can we do?’ as if there was a hotline.
nobody says ‘we should write a poem’. nobody says
we should just go on living. somebody says we should finish
this bottle and then get some sleep. someone says we
should finish this bottle, have a shot of schnapps
and then see where the night takes us. because we
are alive and this is what the living do.

 

VI

 

the clock doesn’t care
nor does the television
nor the talking heads

my life is a sofa, a love seat, a bed.

i read newsweek, i read time
counting up the names like mine
there are so many

i’m on a panel
i say some uncomfy things
i will not make friends

that is the best part – rowing the boat away

i will not make friends with you

 

VII

 

The ruins proclaim
our building was beautiful.

There were oranges.

Fact explains nothing.
2 + 2 = who gives a shit

where’s my phone?
have you seen my phone?

i remember standing with her
until he got bored and walked away

i remember the clerk saying
I would prefer not to

i remember i was carrying
a box of cereal
my favourite

the sky was red i had
a few minutes before work

i would prefer not to

Commiserate — February 2017 — Kathrine Sowerby

February 3, 2017

Your Pocket in Paris

Kathrine Sowerby & Ryan Van Winkle

 

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.

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

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