so it’s like, we shouldn’t press our cheeks together
like we think / we know
because say i saw pen on my sock
this morning i looked and finally
let some noise pass through
lodge / into my ledgers,
take heart there
& i thought that there was something
in the words it slipped down but then all of this
my padded fingers slip on
to the handles swing above us
we are shifted i mean
the undergrowth & i am
i have fallen over i slipped
yeah but it’s fucking cheap they’re all so frightened of him.
and i want some lemon drizzle & the pub & you
HERE. east oxford smells like cress now
burnt rubber snakes its way up st clements
smokes out the morning from my eyes
& now the day is rotten limes
in the way i speak to you, love
(####take heart, i never hit
the right keys))
so the notebook bloomed
when my cola leaked & i must wait
for it to dry. you try to make sense of it,
the brown from the red, i mean
but i can’t see
that you’re right.
all my thoughts come in full sentences.
i am trying to pretend
they do not. three weeks in muck &
three days away from you
they have nothing to do with what i mean?
but the radio, what men say, #hahaha
somebody lives there & kicks the ticker
when they should edit,
circle me deeper
they only know grammar, & even when you are waiting
we slip on my surfaces, talk for days
about how i should learn to eat again
with half a broken jaw & you will be here
when i sleep, three days from now
& the days past.
& i am always a gutted thing with hands
too cold still to work the phone.
POETA EX MACHINA
for Veronica Forrest-Thomson
my voice makes the machine work
the tape clicks inside
but it’s just ether now
if a voice is a long way away
and you are here, on paper
only it’s like writing a maths
(a puzzle-box; i know
how better to move its body
when i move it with me)
problem – the voice animates
and if i animate the voice
and if what animates me is
scraping carrot cake off a wooden fork
with my teeth/tongue, reading you out
lying prone, saying loudly what
i want to repeat with myself
and also with my body
computing words / understanding through
gauze, and these little things
put away in boxes. stamps in thick ink.
i would like to hear your voice.
if what animates me is you.
if what animates the box is me.
and the different stories; each floor
is its own house, each room a world
with rules i can spend my whole life
playing a game with, looking for pain
& pleasure there. a string of tape with dots
in but the dots are holes. they mean things.
and the absences sing through clicking
and i scratch a diagram on the table.
and i would never speak for you.
still my body. puzzle-box. what old tape.
who knows that it’s the power and the pain
the act of twisting one way / instead of staying
still that means: this is what meaning is
that it’s grappling with a wall that makes
the house. that it’s the torn nails. that it’s
what hurts, and hurts badly. that the voice
rang out once, and will not again, but still.
still there is something that moves. that sets
the problem going. and somewhere / in the air
i would like to move, first. under my fingers
and running through my lungs: i wish you
were here too / is the solution. but not yet.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
CHARLOTTE GEATER lives in London and works for The Emma Press. She recently completed a PhD at the University of Kent. Her poetry has previously been published in Clinic, Strange Horizons and The Best British Poetry 2013. She won the 2018 White Review Poet’s Prize for the poems published here and in Issue 25 of The White Review.