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Seven Poems

POET AS CYBORG PORNSTAR

 

It starts with the turn. Their slender edges, the slow
reveal from margin to bombshell, the hormonal
show of the real: whatever it is, you know it’s fucking
hot. I promise, I would do anything to get you off. I am peeling
my skin 4 u. Let’s talk about it: how we fabricate intimacy,
the wet scapes of the world scolded back to rigid, flashy
                                                        direction. Don’t
                                                        you think every hero must grow
to love their algorithm? Chemical action without consequences,
good feeling, bad feeling—young, dumb, and full of poems! With her long
French tips and how their bodies work. Outsource ur erotics
to the moneymakers. This month, we are proud to be partnering
with Donna Haraway in building a new kind of human-shaped sex robot
who wants to write poems. Would a friend catch the dog-ear, unreadable
script, whir of systems, artificially leathered voice—

 

 

 

POEM AS ZERESHK POLLO

 

The white owner of the Persian restaurant says they keep wages low to avoid gentrifying the area with higher prices. I think of the recipe from the place I used to wait: zereshk (barberries, or you can use dried cranberries if you can’t find barberries), saffron (use yellow food colouring as an alternative). Keep them guessing. You are a classical text in the emperor’s encoded vision—sour red berries reclining on a carpet of chicken thighs, jewels set in broth like simmering gold. If European culture generally has digested the Orient, what am I but a ferment of exotic things? A dish, a soul, a curated image—every time I chop and fry an onion I have to wonder what it means for my place in the market. So what do you think? I mean, of all these grains, letters, this hot tahdig, this oil fallen into syntactic place, this formal glaze beneath which bubbles the threat that in some mouths even this could tell an unintended joke? Every way I look I can feel the cool twist, the crisp euphemism of middle-class taste, and I wonder how much this too will sell for. How much would you pay? How good will it look on your plate?

 

 

GHAZAL

 

                                                            My eyes were very

stop
look smell taste touch & hear

 

oh—gorgeous—everybody said that
it must be
i must be very old

 

            The last image—

please take a piece
of me back home, each piece

is anti-war my right eye recorded

 

robbery, give everybody

everything, was

 

the person’s

                                    smile
                                                      when he shot1

 

 

 

GOL-E YAKH
After Kourosh Yaghmaei

 

How the spring flutters from my hands, my youth gone, my voice left, what has this language done? What have I heard? My young death glossed in wintersweet flowers. Your two eyes are making a home, like my nights. Your two eyes: dark like my own. It’s raining. The birds are flying away: my brother would be twenty-two. I was once twenty-two, with music on my hands and a plan for lakes, but now I still squint for new year light in a cold yellow room sewed in treetops, in lentils soaking, a nest made with water. Your liquid hair, your two eyes like the bulbous tips of branches—what has been made in the language? The tree is gold, almost stemless, borne in winter at the joints of the previous summer—what am I reading—I am unmade young, made unyoung, like a satellite, like a home, your clear dark eyes like night rain. The buds are packed and heady, scrubbing the damp scent of hyacinths and vinegar, everyone’s birthday. Your two rainy eyes. I am possessed by his future. Like my nights. O, two eyes. The ice flower became young in my heart. We’re going outside. The wind carries away my loneliness when you’re here with me. The bird carries away the spring.

 

 

ALL OF THE LIGHT THAT REACHES EARTH
After Rachel Jones & Radiolab

 

This yellow is not like the sun, not an egg
slapped round on the daytime—but some loud citrine,

 

wetter as the delicate smoke of other people clangs
around it, lit as it exists in biting red and blue, flickering

 

fibre-optic, firing and firing like the sour night sky I dream,
I dream of when my organs felt so strongly, tips slipped

 

into cold sand, mud on the lip—we should just shine through eyes
broken wide in green, by greening, the contours of each

cinnamonic moment, the flare of each giving out,
a flash of sound and light

 

                                                I live here, in the mouth, reaching out

 

like a tongue. Expand your sensory toolkit. My uvula hurts.
My throat is sore. It has mountains lost in it. Driver,

 

if these lilacs are real like insects burring, maybe
the interior world is too. Behind each neuron acting out

 

are these planes of colour—how the build-up relates to cognition,
a fizz of static and savoury chiming, the long and bitter

 

tonic at the edge—O Driver, like a tic tac in a fairytale,
stuck sputtering an old name in clutches crossed and beaming.

 

 

 

FOR MY BARISTA POETS, WHO

 

calibrate the shots, invite in the world, anticipate the needs of each person who looks, who know the service voice, the blank and generous smile—the till isn’t working today, I’m afraid we can only take exact change—for the poets who wipe down their home worktops as if awaiting inspection, for the regulating bodily drill, the who closed last night?, the eighty-five percent profit margin, the groupchat rota jpeg, the political shift-swap, revelatory deep-clean, the unavailability, the coworker’s careful sidestep, niche playlist, good hand cream, the coworker’s dreamy smile, the side hustle as rest, the do I know you from somewhere?, the syncopated interaction, in-jokes distilled from days in the bowl, the way the light changes, winter click-shut sigh, the soft butch swell in unscrew and backflush, the gleam of stainless surfaces against the moon, the tulips, the ferns, the hearts, the swan—how each moment the door is open you are breathing in the day and practising what it means to give everything away, to keep the soul in the transaction—each flat white a third of your hourly rate. For the years you’ve spent training your intuition to move between almond milk and soy, between short expression and long, ristretto macchiato cortado oat mocha salted caramel whole milk cappuccino chocolate on top extra hot take away three sugars amazing thank you that will be ten pounds thirty just tap there when you’re ready thanks so much have a great day take care see you soon

 

 

 

NEUROPLASTIC

 

This sand feels like concrete’s
older sister. The mermaid’s
lilac bralette is rubbing off, peachy
shell-shaped polyethylene
fading through. The hard things
always last the longest. Armour,
walls, knives: the soft
things degrade. Waking
at water, enzymes
begin their work of busy
eating, their world-building
unceremonial, uninterpreted, unfazed.

 

Now, what is soft and cheap
will also be unearthed. This polyester
dress, this carrier bag, this nylon shirt
I love so much will last and last, even
as their little bonds ache
to embrace relinquishing. They say
we made something that would live
as we wanted to, bright and alone
and longer than anything before.

                                    I don’t believe it.

 

One day, without even realising, enough
glassy blue polymers will build in your limbs,
light and self-reflecting, and tiny futures
begin to germinate. Your own acrylic cells
will know to blink in the sun, linking
with their starchy counterparts, and start
to make a new third thing. The music
will floresce. What they told you was trash
is asking to be given up to life.

 

1 This poem comprises excerpts from ‘Walking like a Robin’ by Bernadette Mayer, who died on 22 November 2022, and the translated words of 19-year-old Iranian revolutionary Ghazal Ranjkish, who was shot in the right eye by a member of the IRGC on 22 November 2022.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

is a poet and writer living in South East London. An alumna of the Southbank New Poets Collective and member of the Ledbury Poetry Critics, they are the recipient of the 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Poetry, and have recently published poems in bathmagg, zindabad zine, and The Willowherb Review. They have also co-written short sci-fi film DIGGING, produced by Film4. has created shows  for Montez Press Radio and hosts open mic and poetry night Fresh Lip.

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