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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

Commiserate — January 2017 — Alicia Sometimes

January 9, 2017

My Self / My Soul

Alicia Sometimes & Ryan Van Winkle

aliciasometimessl
Alicia says: I love paisley ties and words that cross oceans. Collaborating with Ryan was a beautiful mind meld. He is the very essence of fervent creativity.

 

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.

***

Alicia Sometimes is an Australian writer, poet and broadcaster. She is a regular guest on ABC 774 and Radio National. She has appeared in ABC TV’s Sunday Arts and ABC News Breakfast. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and was writer and director of the science-poetry show, Elemental that has toured extensively. Alicia has co-edited From the Outer (Black Inc, 2016) with Nicole Hayes, a book about diversity amongst Aussie Rules football fans. She is also one-sixth of The Outer Sanctum podcast.

Commiserate June 2016 – Peter Mackay and JL Williams

June 29, 2016

In the run up to a visit to Canada to read in various events at Le 17e Festival de la poésie de Montréal, Peter Mackay, Ryan Van Winkle and JL Williams decided to write a collaborative poem that they could share at the festival. As it turned out, they didn’t have time to read the poem in Montreal so thought it would be nice to share it online… especially in light of recent political events. They hope it conveys some sense of the way language and poetry attempts to cross personal and linguistic barriers, challenge conventional meanings and encourage us to think about the world in new ways.

 

***

O Scotland My Canada

A cold wind blows from the north, snow this sunshine day
and a wolf howling in the air above the castle.

And a wolf cloud can break your heart. So, why not
just go back to sleep? The castle closed her eyes

years ago & no longer worries about the bubonic plague,
the hairless breasts of Putin. All this waxing

and waning. Throw-away newspapers scuffle
along old-town, new-town streets, leaving their print.

Throw away fire & kindling, throw rock
so it skims & leaps past the drowsy swans

swooning in the odd heat. Me, I like to keep my feet
moving below the surface, cold as can be, blue

as the wolf’s eyes and her tender paws
padding the spine of a frozen river

so cold the skin of the eye freezes, the heart’s
beat slows, the ears open to chimes and iron

I miss confident church bells, the persistent rise of 8 AM
And Wolf misses the proud trees which have been felled

sent down river, to the bay and shaped into boats
old trunks in new forms at aimed a new world

somewhere nova, somewhere neuve, somewhere ùr

where I first sang O Canada my Canada,
O Scotland my Scotland, O world without borders

whose places are beginnings for everyone,
whose forests are homes for all wolves,

whose stones speak all languages quietly, quietly
beneath the running of water.

***

 

bar_1JL Williams‘ books include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), the triptych collection Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015) and House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016).  She was selected for the 2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library. http://www.jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk

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Pàdraig MacAoidh (Peter Mackay) is originally from the Isle of Lewis, but now lives in Edinburgh. He writes in Scottish Gaelic and English and has written one full collection of poems,  Gu Leòr / Galore, published by Acair in 2105, and a pamphlet, From Another Island, published by Clutag Press in 2010. He is also a broadcaster and lecturer; he teaches at the University of St Andrews and is BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2015.

Commiserate — April 2016 — Tessa Berring

April 3, 2016

Take Out Now – April 2016

Tessa Berring & Ryan Van Winkle

FullSizeRender (1)Tessa says: This making of a poem was fun – the way my words came back from Ryan surrounded by or broken up by his words, how we began to develop themes and imagery, how kittens, clocks, and a body suddenly appeared when I least expected them…
Above all I enjoyed the intention to simply ‘write a poem’ together – no other motive or agenda beyond letting language emerge then pushing it to and fro to see what might happen.

Take Out Now

She thinks prayer is an empty bucket,
an empty bucket for God to fill.
But all her buckets have hairline cracks
and God leaks away with her pistol,
all gunslinger & no horse. Or maybe
prayer is more like a pistol.
Don’t load it, float it –
watch it sink, evidence
of a very simple crime.
Guns and God-slingers – oh It is easy
to close one eye, take aim. Easy,
to take two hands & make a frame.
Easy, to press my palms flat in prayer.
Harder to ask, to fill the borders, to shoot.
He thinks prayer is like solitaire –
a game decided as the shuffle ends.
He calls god a deck of cards, pushes
the chips forward – all in.
As if we could hold the unicorn,
as if we were saints,
or angels wearing holsters! –
as if we were virgins lapping
up the gods as if the gods
were poison, as if we dare to risk
the lot with a miniature lead balloon
bringing us down – sinking.
Be quiet! Prayer is a slab of ice,
a cold cabinet, a sliding door,
the mysterious outline
of a body – something sweet,
a kitten mewing at your breast,
a chocolate puppy wagging
for the stick, a six-shooter,
chamber spinning,
the click-click-bang
of Russian Roulette,
an emptiness, a clock.
A clock? Take out the clock.
Take out the clock then take
out time, take out now
and take out never, take out
before and after this happened –
then look at all the horses
still lunging through sawdust
look at the dung beetles
looking for owls.
Look at the warm grease
lathering the windows,
ice melting, the sound
of a prayer’s faint hum —
no gunshots, no burst balloons
nothing
to tell a tale.
Bio: Tessa Berring is an Edinburgh based artist and writer. She studied cultural history at Aberdeen University followed by Sculpture and Drawing at Edinburgh College of Art. Her work emerges from both an exploration of the phenomenology of objects, and a playful love of text. Her poems are published in a selection of print and on line journals, and she exhibits her curious objects/installations regularly within Scotland, and further afield.

Commiserate — February 2016 — Dave Coates

February 11, 2016

Snapchats of Rain – February 2016

Dave Coates & Ryan Van Winkle

queenDave says: The last time I worked with Ryan on a poem was just after I’d had my application to take a PhD at Edinburgh University accepted – this is one of the only poems I’ve written since then. In between all the thesis-writing, review-writing and, y’know, wage labour, the only poems I’ve been able to write are these little haiku-y things. I like how little space they take, how they feel like they could just go on unimpeded forever like wee flowers with deep roots, that they do a bit of shaking off of the old poet-ego thing. Ryan knows how to give those wee herbs a heartbeat. Cheers pal.x

Snapchats of Rain

in the daily puzzle
we hustle our edges
we build a story

*

this chest, this mind was yanked out
not exactly wanting to go

*

you live a hundred deaths a day, she says – grass,
birds, your mother –
you only get one of your own –

*

so much life is departure
even standing still, ghosts arrive

*

like teeth, she says, take care
of what god gave you

*

fire in the water and
the water was warm
as a stubborn calf in june

*

bring me my timeline of quiet
bring me snapchats of rain
dear friend, whither now our filters?

*

i take a picture, i make a fire
with my own two hands
wood finding use, again

*

accidents of feet and knees
this door, this path, this rain, this wind.

*

all this business about yesterday
when there’s still fuel in the tank

*

don’t be afraid, he said.
He said, here’s how to stay
permanently surprised.

*

And here’s how to shiver
here’s how to get cold

*

seagull feathers at the church door
a little heap of antlers

*

there’s a little space left
between two well-loved
books. a many-hearted shelf

*

there’s a little piece
waiting to be placed

Dave Coates is a poetry critic and PhD candidate. He writes poetry crit at DavePoems and on Louis MacNeice and contemporary Northern Irish poetry at the University of Edinburgh. In 2015 he won the Best Reviewer award from Sabotage Reviews.

Commiserate — January 2016 — Ghazal Mosadeq

January 6, 2016

Qué perra es – January 2016

Ghazal Mosadeq & Ryan Van Winkle

1449867030Ghazal says: When Steven Fowler asked Ryan and I to collaborate on a poem for the Enemies Project, I was in Linares, Mexico. So this piece is shaped by back and forth emails. We decided on the theme of distance, travel and time and used some Spanish and Persian words and sentences  I wrote one passage and emailed it to him and waited for his passage to come. The final piece is one long poem with a more or less unified voice rather than two pieces corresponding with each other. This poem was performed on October 25 in the Rich Mix Centre, London as a part of the Camaradfest II in which 100 poets collaborated in pairs on 50 poems.

qué perra es

They say we age slower
if we’re traveling fast
as if time is a stupid dog
chasing after a train, as if

As if is slayable
when it comes to time
so there is el tiempo del sur
and we have immovable time
so I ask ¿qué perra es?

But they say it’s Mexican time
Ten thousand taxies ahead
Making us age like a. should I say?
I just need to know: ¿qué perra es?
It was a hot night and it made me
want know the time
in Lisbon, in Tokyo

They say, ‘he wouldn’t give me the time
of day.’ They say, ‘I wouldn’t piss on him
if he was on fire.’ They say you must know
‘when to hold them, when to fold them’

But what I want to know
is how will your eyes flutter
when the dealer calls
and you must show what you’ve made
of a lousy hand.

You say it was just a burglary
Attempt, but I think you may have gone too far
By shooting a midlevel engineer
and a top baker and not finding
the 23 pound of black tar heroin
under the armchair and not even knowing
how to get home from there

*

To master Time is to master living.
To master Time is to master dying.
To master time is to disappear
in Monterrey on an independence day party
nine and a half years ago
To master dying by timing living
she masters living

*

Often I ask a question in a language
I don’t fully understand
the response always returns
at the speed of a back-handed ball
dizzy, unsure where on the street to turn
left or turn right but it is clear one must
make a turn somewhere

pas man be samt-i paayeen peecheedam
and that’s exactly what I did
va chand soal porseedam
as one should
¿qué perra es?
¿qué perra es?
And tiptoed around centro historico
so I just turned from
Isabel la Catótica  into Regina
All  in less than 5 seconds

*

Zanini Rallebol
wanna ne ne
wanna na na
Tu veux ou tu veux pas
don’t you na na me with your tongue
don’t you ne ne me with your eyes

*

I have a big old
fashioned bathtub
I hardly use, once
it was my birthday
and I hoped
I could mark it
so I lay there
and counted the lines
on my skin as they appeared

once I walked into a
grand boudoir
and that’s all I did that
day, pacing the floor
barefeet tickled on carpet
naked on starched scratching sheets
licking a pewter candle stick
all the possible comforts, all
the possible violence, all the tourists
clicking pictures, keep shuffling.

VIDEO:

Ghazal Mosadeq is a writer and poet (winner of the Bayhaqi Short Fiction Prize, shortlisted for the Khorshid Poetry Prize). Her debut collection of poetry, Dar Jame Ma, was published in Iran in 2010, and her second book of poems, Biographies,  is published in London, UK by Susak Press, 2015. Her fiction and poetry has been published and translated in magazines and anthologies in Iran, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Greece and Portugal. She is a PhD research student at University of London, Birkbeck College.

Ryan and J.O. Morgan in Sonofabook

February 21, 2015

Delighted to report that the collaborative poem with J.O. Morgan, ‘All Signs’, has been published in the CB Editions magazine Sonofabook. It also includes new work from Will Eaves, Nancy Gaffield, Agota Kristof, Elizabeth Mikesch & May-Lan Tan, D. Nurkse, Dan O’Brien and Francis Ponge.

Colin Herd — Commiserate, Feb. 2015

January 29, 2015

It Feels As If

Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle

 

colinCOLIN SAYS: It was fun writing thickly (and less thickly) veiled love poems/letters to you Ryan! I love writing that strains impossibly trying not to say something that it is in fact saying, like when you get someone going round the houses to explain why their argument isn’t this thing but in fact this other thing and you can barely tell the difference between them other than this tiny semantic nuance, if even that. This exchange was kind of the opposite of that, where there is an enormous effort to couch what you are saying behind a whole sequence of smoke and mirrors. Speaking of which, when we were about to read this in the pub in Aberdeen, and I was making a brief introduction that these were based on the homoerotic love letters of King James VI, the poet nick-e melville piped up and said: “I thought you were going to say Kim Jong Il”…. that might be something to try next time. (And I hope there will be tons of next times.)

****

It Feels as If

Dear Ryan,

You ceilidh so woolly that I do not enquire after your heat and ask if you maintain the stay-at-home. Of you. Be in no doubt. In a tinge, a tinkle. A horsewhip.

Dear Colin

I must beg to differ. I blew that stallion off my back and now there are wrinkles around my eyes, even when there is no bright white sun. Perhaps I misunderstand your query.

Dear Ryan

When it is your will, perhaps I will be accustomed to your actuaries more intimately. Hearty then for myself, and flattering my falcons for wont that I will know from all the assertions of your benchmark the discretions and vindications I seek. The aqualung as always requires no epicure and the surname no sun.

Dear Colin

It is a flexible instrument us men have inherited. It is amazing how much punishment we can take, almost without protest. They say I cough blood only because I laugh too much. And yet, I am neither victim, nor survivor – I have not suffered and this will not cease with a foot in the mouth nor a mere finger in the pie. I am too tired to look for another hole in the ground. Play the piano for me, play the one about the rolling heather.

Dear Ryan

I am conscious that these are early eunuchs. Perhaps our collision will always occupy only the earliest but in precedent perhaps more rather than less endeavour of our mutual prophecies is required. I want it to be known that in all mazes except of heaving hearts I am profoundly easily swayed and that only in one ratcheted nozzle do I dissuade myself, uncompromised. Make that one ratcheted novelette. It feels as if.

Dear Colin

The brains of my brothers are as empty as the underpants of a eunuch. I put my hands in but I always feel like I’m rummaging around for something that isn’t quite there. Did I tell you that I’ve seen the sea again. The sea was impersonal and didn’t care. Maybe it was a dream, I don’t know, everything happens so much. One feels as if, indeed.

Dear Ryan

Your agreement on such matters makes my bosom swell. I think there may have been a mnemonic but no matter now, attention shifts like sands. Are we listened to yet? And if not by the sea by some other force. I am afraid to tell anyone of my dessert.

Dear Colin

My ears are yours, should the postboy take them. Mine eyes as well, should I manage to find that runcible spoon. Last I remember, we were having a picnic. Youngberries, cherries, currants. And my confession – I am no picnic myself.

Dear Ryan

He has seized now an orange shroud and nudges his resin towards me. My tobacco remains deaf-mute but the walls can make something or other out. It’s churlish to avoid unreeling this particular cassette: on a purplish roster, he bade me thank his chasm! I swore, I’d never appear in any such anthology and, fizzling to consult, I can earnestly say that prevented him. But for how long?

Dear Colin

Your mementos will turn to dust, the picture postcards, your spanish braids shall untagle and what will you be left with? Your flaxen locks? Your silver coin eyes? We must hold true north and remain vulnerable to everything. Who is not temporal, flesh?

Dear Ryan

I regret that cruisy tone. But what meteorites are contained in even the simplest struck match?! Your reward for keeping my conscience is something I cannot sufficiently commend. Let me at least say this: indeed I do not think the tongue at all creditable either to mandrills or woodpeckers, and (though you will not believe me) I very often feel ashamed of it myself.

Good Colin

I cannot live any longer not knowing what will happen tomorrow. Pray tell, look into your tea leaves. I can toy with this eye-wrecking lace work no longer. Tell me the fate of Atlantis, tell me of Troy and the horse. What was it like inside the dark body – all those swords, those torsos next to torsos, those chosen men breathing quiet as they could?

Dear Ryan,

I have had it with my femur! What may seem to some an interactive irrelevancy is in fact to me an irritant. A flea-pit felony if you really want know. But I will pick myself up and narrow the scope. You’re asking about tomorrow? It’s surely dominated by the smallest of sunbathers quivering from the warmth of. You know what warmth and you know how irrepressible its draw. Those tiny bathers. A nappy banquet. It’s not too tragi-comic.

Dear Colin

It is impossible to stop wanting to repeat ourselves. And yet we make each word anew. As if no man had ever spoken it before. This is the hard part.

Dear Ryan,

Hard as in rocky? Solid? Iron-hearted? Impenetrable? Packed? So I understand. To avoid a debacle, embrace summings-up. Perhaps we should betray our fitter selfishisms and motley underpinnings, but can I speak from the heart? thus?, desires. I believe my words will no longer hold and as it stands: you hang a fish from a hook, it will untangle itself, depending on the brainpower of the fish. It’s a stroll in the park for me.

Dear Colin

Sometimes the vein runs so dry, I don’t have a word to say. If there was a line between my mind and your ear, I would trespass it. Perhaps, as always, the best answer is: ‘it depends’. Perhaps I will have a full dream tonight and there will be more to say in the morning.

****

Colin Herd was born in Stirling in 1985 and now lives in Edinburgh. He is a poet, fiction writer and critic. His first collection of poems “too ok” was published by BlazeVOX in 2011. A pamphlet, “like”, was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2011 and a second full-length collection ‘Glovebox’, was published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press in 2013. He has published over 60 reviews and articles on art and literature in publications including Aesthetica Magazine, 3:AM Magazine, PN:Review and The Independent. He has read and performed his work widely, including at Rich Mix Arts Centre, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Gay’s the Word Bookshop, Edinburgh University, Lancaster University and The Edinburgh International Book Festival. In 2014, ‘Glovebox’ was highly commended in the Forward Prizes.

****

Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle read ‘I Feel As If’

 

****

Inspired by  SJ Fowler‘s  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets 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 poems here.

Commiserate Three Way 2015

December 29, 2014

Matt Hetherington & David Stavanger — Commiserate, January 2015

It is a pleasure to be back this month with our first ever three-way collaboration between myself and two Australian poet friends – Matt Hetherington & David Stavanger. So below you will find four poems all based on source material we wrote together in the sweaty Brisbane summer. Taps off, y’all. 

Matt Hetherington by Nicholas Walton-Healey

Matt Hetherington by Nicholas Walton-Healey

The process: we sat around a table and in round-robin style created a very large poem. Each of us took the source material and re-worked it. Below are the results from the three of us.

Matt says: the best bit was the start…sitting around drinking beer, throwing lines out like sighs…the editing was more like real sighs…or sights of sides…i like mine best! You can quote me on that!

—-

Fill Your Stump
by Matt Hetherington
w/ Ryan Van Winkle & David Stavanger

 

baby says something
she says the word ‘bovine’
she says you’re like a duck, you’ve got no tread
but winter is when you need the fur
skin is where we find get off
stumbling into the wild man

 

those men who file tax returns sleep with animals
and keep their umbrellas by the door
size determines technique
or the future
well, everybody has one
if they keep their teeth straight
it’s elegant

 

when you need to say sorry, feel lucky
you can scratch a way through your head
when your toe is sore you need to remember
keep an axe in the sound
when the song goes wrong
or short or ironed out or shirty
it’s a shit, innit?

 

grandma’s throat gave birth to a tree
so growl about it, make tea and read
don’t flatter yourself
don’t take their cake
don’t ask white to turn off-white
earth keeps you talking about the girls
and girls love girth more than neil loves you

 

my father is a festival
he knows how to hurt her
take him out to the dire lands where the popcorn is cheap
close all the windows, you can’t squeeze through
my sister asks if I am a truck
(no, I am not a truck)

 

why is this happening?
not really

 

David Stavanger

David Stavanger

slip inside, jackets by the door
by David Stavanger
w/ Matt Hetherington & Ryan Van Winkle

 

when the weather is yellow, tops
off when the weather is white, fill your
stump
with sure white stains, turn

 

the power off. when the pants fit, e
lephants talk birds talk, watch the p
lanes
float innocent and flam e

 

like dreams your teeeeeeeeeeth fell
the school bracelet donated twice

 

and you yelled like broken night
breakthewrist, breakthethumb
touching how you never ran till you raced

 

three of us horses, one for every type
of home. we sent grandma
when
she said she’d kidnap itches
her cats had no claws, pussies
bloom
in spring but winter is when you need the fur

 

slip inside, jackets by the door

 

fluff the sound, play the take
needle fills the song
clouds heard the honey sky out
when heavy goes wrong the song
baby, axe the needle
keep me in you

the word bovine 
 slow and wet
to ease
 she says you’re like a duck
you’ve got no tread the season gone brown
the colour of dad’s wallet
 which only opens for sharks
those men who file tax returns sleep with animals

 

Size determines
technique

 

Animals who sleep with women
can never go home

 

Bark for forgiveness. Grandma’s throat gave birth to a tree

 

growl about it and keep your umbrella
by the door and put rain in the can every time she says
sugar. dung. mother trucker.

 

piss taker who knows when to pull out the fruit.
the groceries in Paris always seem brighter she says
the trains always like me, fruit lasts longer on the tree

 

close all the windows, you can’t squeeze through
when your toe is sore you need to remember

 

there’s only so much rice you can put in a bowl

 

Grandma Goes Three Ways
by Ryan Van Winkle
w/ Matt Hetherington & David Stavanger

 

when the weather is yellow, tops off
when the weather is white, fill your stump
with sure white stains, turn the power off

 

when the pants fit, make elephants talk
when the birds talk, watch the planes
float innocent and flame

 

like a bracelet of teeth donated
to the school of dreams
you chased till they fell

 

and yelled like a broken night – break
the wrist, break the thumb touching
how you never ran till you raced,

 

three of us horses, one for every type
of home. we sent grandma
when she said she’d kidnap itches

 

her cats had no claws, pussies
bloom in spring but winter is when you need
the fur. slip inside, jackets by the door

 

close all the windows, you can’t squeeze through.
when your toe is sore you need to remember
there’s only so much rice you can put in a bowl

 

fluff fills the clouds, the honey, the needle
till the needle gets heavy
keep an axe in the sound

 

play the song you heard in the song
when the song goes wrong
take me to the sky, take me out baby says

 

the word bovine
slow and wet to ease
she says you’re like a duck

 

you’ve got no tread because
the season has gone brown,
the colour of dad’s wallet

 

which only opened for the sharks,
those men who file tax returns,
sleep with animals. Size determines

 

technique. Animals who sleep with women
can never go home. Bark for forgiveness.
Grandma’s throat gave birth to a tree –

 

growl about it and keep your umbrella
by the door and put rain in the can every time
she says fuck. oh, sugar. dung. mother trucker.

 

piss taker who knows when to pull out the stops.
the groceries in paris always seem brighter, she says,
the trains always like me, fruit lasts longer on the tree

 

Three of Us Horses
by Matt Hetherington
w/ Ryan Van Winkle & David Stavanger

 

take me to the sky
because the season has gone
brown like a wallet

 

when the weather is yellow
turn the power off
when the birds talk, watch the planes

 

slip inside, jackets by the door
so soon so late so go
one for every type of home

 

too many farmers not enough grass
and the way to the well is worn thin
then play the song you heard in the song

 

couldn’t break it even like a bracelet of death
like thumbs touching
like how you never ran ’till you raced

 

you know you’ll leave it
hanging in the currents
there’s only so much rice you can put in a bowl

—-

Matt Hetherington has performed and published his poems for over 20 years throughout Australia, Europe, and America, including in the anthologies The Best Australian Poetry [2007, UQP], and The Best Australian Poems [2004, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, Black Inc.] His fourth collection of poetry [and first collection of haiku] For Instance, will be published in January 2015 by Mulla Mulla Press, and he is also on the board of the Australian Haiku Society. Some current inspirations are: Miles Davis’ ‘electric period, his 7 year-old daughter Jess, and plain old sunshine.

David Stavanger won the 2013 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Award. He is also Green Room nominated spoken weird cabaret artist Ghostboy, known for his live shows with Richard Grantham (Deep Blue) and the band Golden Virtues, as well as having established the thriving QLD poetry slam scene. The Special (UQP) – his first full-length collection of poetry – has recently been released and is now in reprint.

—-

Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.

Inspired by  SJ Fowler‘s  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets 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 and 2014’s poems here

Commiserate Dec – 2014 – William Letford

November 29, 2014

Fuckin’ Coconuts — December 2014

William Letford & Ryan Van Winkle

Ryan Van Winkle & William Letford

Ryan Van Winkle & William Letford

William says: The idea for this collaboration began when I was on an island off the east coast of India. I was drinking a lot of coconuts, and listening to the thud as they fell beside my hut in the middle of the night. A loud thud. I began to get paranoid. I’d look up at palm trees swaying as I walked beneath. I sent Ryan two words, ‘Fuckin Coconuts,’ and he took it from there. Strange how things get started. I’m back on that same island right now. Had a near miss yesterday. Still looking up at the palm trees. Fuckin coconuts.

Fuckin’ Coconuts

how did the monkey get here?

He came to Glasgow

and left the water

for the organ grinder

 

even the monkey

wants money

but settles for scratching

moist temporal flesh

and gets stuck in

 

how else did he get here?

 

last night I went to sleep

and woke up in a tree

beside the fuckin’ monkey

we were in the tree

and down below us

was a family sittin’

in their conservatory drinkin’

lemonade

so I leant close to ask

the monkey what he

thought about the family

sittin’ in their conservatory

drinkin’ lemonade

the monkey told me

he thought about

bananas

 

then the monkey

asked me

what i thought

when i looked at the family

sittin’ in their conservatory

drinkin’ lemonade

I said I wished I didn’t

walk in my sleep

I said I wished I wasn’t

a sleepwalker

 

how else did the monkey arrive?

 

zagged

as the leaves

on a tree

 

how else did he get here?

 

I was minding my own business

just having a whiskey because

the bar was neon and there was the snow

and the monkey wants another mojito

but the lady says they’re out of mint. The season

and all the rest. Well, I don’t like to get involved

but that monkey wasn’t talking right to a lady

so I says he should watch his mouth.

Man-alive, his breath smelt like peanut butter

and those claws dug right into my shoulders.

 

I don’t often feel like a mouse, I don’t often

pass out thinking of owls and the full moon.

When I woke up the monkey was gone

the barmaid, applying a towel still sticky with beer

said ‘how did that monkey get here?

 

An old man lifted an eyebrow like

he was lifting a heavy wooden chest.

Stories folded on his forehead. Flecks

of regret cracked the corners of his

lips. A smile spread like a beer

stain on a tattered armchair and this

is what he whispered,

 

Monkey see monkey do

brass monkeys cheeky monkeys

the monkey fuckin’ stole

ma shoe. Monkey shoulder

monkey rum the monkey

licks its fuckin’ bum

monkey wrench monkey’s uncle

the monkey on ma back

monkey business monkey suit

couldn’t give one

couldn’t throw one

chances are you’ll fuckin’ know one

 

how else did the monkey come?

 

we don’t know

how our actions

may appear to others

one man’s underground wank

is another man’s nightmare

 

how else did the monkey get here?

 

Now, I hear he’s getting divorced

sold the holiday home in the keys

and the Porsche, of course – sold

all those beautiful trees

 

they say he spends all day inside

with a colour tv on mute

listening to the air conditioner hummm

wearing a tie like he was going

up the tower again

 

how else did you get here?

 

i built my life around monkey

monkeysaymonkeydo

you know the one about the tortoise

and the alligator, the one about

the pea on the chair, well

the sea moves forwards

the coast moves back

inspired, in trouble

all the people, their houses

doctors, lawyers, executives

babies, daughters, fathers

 

how else did the monkey get here?

 

it was some kind of nature

not the dark

which filled his eyes

his ears filled

with the words of charlie

darwin: from so simple

a beginning

 

 

Ramapithecus

Australopithecus

Homo habilis

 

there’s a monkey in everyone of us

a red-arsed baboon in some

 

how did the monkey get here?

 

it came from the sea

it came from space

from somewhere in the twinkling dark

it came from Centaurus A

it came from void

i am the fuckin’ monkey

i am australopithecine’s ape like urge

and culture

is killing my hormonal surge

tear down the buildings

plant the trees

empty the ginger bottles

stop shaving

let your underwear fall to the floor

 

run, run

 

climb

 

feel the sun

listen to the leaves

and there’s a monkey

in everyone of us

the monkey is life

 

how did the monkey get here?

 

The monkey is in a wet green field

not a tree on any horizon

 

The monkey is in the desert

watching a snake die

 

on a cactus, a horse

running off, a cow

 

shrinking into her ribs

a sheep licking sand.

 

The monkey lives

with no oasis.

 

Where did you leave your monkey?

 

On the fire escape, Halloween

everyone agreed, it was the best

costume and they drank monkey

and talked monkey until monkey

just about had enough

 

How did the monkey get escape?

 

Monkey wakes in a haze

of new bougainvillea

every door is locked

the air is tepid as tea

somewhere a drum

and all his hairs quiver

 

Fuckin’ Coconuts live at Summerhall, Edinburgh

http://youtu.be/clX4wL6G2MM 

 

William Letford has received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust and an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary. His first collection Bevel (Caracanet) was published in 2012. A chapbook of his poems, translated into Slovakian, was published by Vertigo in October 2014.

—-

Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.

Inspired by  SJ Fowler‘s  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets 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.

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