The ghosts of suicides kept us
and bleeding on our frostbitten
lips. We ran
gauntlets, chose to be beaten
until the vessels
on our asses
When have you
been kept awake
under a sky
naked as the paint
slapped our palms
and our knees buckled under
of naval pride. And
then we bled in the shower. And
then we shaved our faces raw.
– Aaron Kent
I spend every night under the sky of strangers.
There is no blanket of stars
to wrap around my lost
a suffocating haze
of fumes and artificial light
collecting under the glass jar
that stews this metropolis
I march to work
with the same resignation
on my face
in my heart
the taste of blood
on my teeth
from lips I’ve been biting
in my sleep
a puppet to be manipulated
by strings that are past my reach
eventually left limp
in the shadow of the wilting sun
I spend every day under the sky of strangers.
– Annie Harrison
A seascape but which seascape?
The ocean wrapped me
in the kitchen,
kept me warm in the knowledge
it was not my blood
on the shower floor.
I washed in the sink,
shaved my head with cutlery,
burnt my skin on the morning sun.
‘eighteen watts and inconsistent.’
Wait for the fire alarm,
feed me to the church,
the others will never notice,
I’m still marking in Hertz.
– Aaron Kent
– Andrew Fentham
Our landlord burnt down our house.
I blew dandelion clocks into my own eyes.
I hit seventeen potholes and a dual carriageway.
We needed petrol.
My wife was too ill to shop for food.
There were alien abductions in my hometown.
We think they wanted our tin mine secrets.
My coffee was somewhere between americano and espresso.
I chose the wrong night to entertain.
Last night I swapped therapy for therapy.
I think I’m ready to live.
My peas are all wasabi.
And my soya is now unsweetened.
We gave feedback.
But it was really how we saw ourselves.
Everything is reflection now.
Thirty three coffees and I can fly to London.
My novel now has margins.
And that’s ok.
This is all ok.
And then we had our friends round for pizza.
How was your day?
– Aaron Kent
[I CHOSE THE WRONG NIGHT TO ENTERTAIN]
The transactional life
The tranceactual wave
The transfer of the woven
The wooden trap
The mining town
The gathering for mail
The chamber pots are thunder jugs
The mine was discovered
The discovery was a survey
The surveyor worked for the Army
The Army didn’t know
The concern about silver prices
The collapse of the catacombs
The anthill sculptures
The lead in the anthills
The hypnotized catwalk
The border and the fear
The forsaken spool
The mistaken spin
– Mike Young
I’ve spent weeks
down my throat,
breaking my ribs
and bursting a hole
in my chest cavities.
It hurt to try
to be a member
of the public again.
Have you ever
had to return
to your life?
– Aaron Kent
i have been trying to write this poem for two weeks / your question
is very direct / and yet abstract / can i answer a question / with a
question? / what do you mean exactly?/ why have you asked me
such a profound and yet / meaningless / question? what are you
expecting? / OK that is / more than one question // i am in the
process of leaving / today i am supposed to be packing / up my house
for the past two weeks / i have been trying to say / i hope every time
i leave / (which is often) / is a return / i am scared // of leaving scared
/ i might be making / a dreadful mistake i mean for fuck’s sake look
at this place / look at these people / look at this beautiful / life i have
by this beautiful / blue / and sometimes green / and often silver /
fucking ocean what i hope is / that i can return / to this life which
i am / actively leaving / for the unknown // that is another reason /
i have had trouble writing this / poem because what if you can’t? /
return that is / so there is that and then also / the fear / of writing a
poem / that responds directly to a question / a poem that’s too open
/ which is why / i have laid it out in this way / with these fancy /
backslashes to make up for // line breaks or anything that might
make this / look like the kind of poem / i hate / (but yes i have had to
/ return to my life / both in the good sense / and the bad)
just before leaving / cornwall i had a cancer scare i mean / i am still /
scared of cancer but this was a more specific fear / with actual tests
/ and a dr / and i found the things i was most scared of //
were not death / or dying / but 1 losing all my hair and 2 /
dying in solihull at my parents house / instead of here / in cornwall
which as you can imagine / only fuels my fear that leaving / might be
a mistake // hopefully i can make it to my next destination / (norwich)
before i actually get cancer or any / other life-threatening illnesses
/ but then i don’t really want to die in norwich either / even if
it’s preferable to dying in the midlands / or specifically suburbia /
which is the metaphor i’d use / for the bad / times i returned to life
/ like after an exotic trip and a long hall flight / back to birmingham
airport / which is very near where my parents live / (we’ve
had picnics / at the runway) / but anyway that’s the bad // return
isn’t it? a fairytale that ends on coventry road / and the good?
i suppose / any complex metaphor for that would be / worse than
writing this with line breaks but / i guess it’s like me leaving / cornwall
when i’d happily / die here does that / answer your question?
– Anna Cathenka
I lived many years as woodworm, Zoë,
on my back during those silent
summer night, burrowing into a bottle
of Whyte and Mackay – Xestobium
I hid through fear of the impending death
of other’s conversations, as I rounded
on them with tales of 12 year old
suicide attempts, and AMS 2/3, again
Like a broken record. Do you feel yourself
repeat? I found other broken pandas
begging for rain, and stifled that
death-watch tick. Still clear in words, but
– Aaron Kent
Here’s a story – not
mine – about a woman out West, not the American West as it is
now, but a place without time. Long ago, she took
off her dress, and now she wears a belt and boots, faces
the men round the campfire. Like Claudia Cardinale
in a film I once saw: Nothing you can do to me, nothing
that won’t wash off with soap and water. A man
watching helpless: one man who cares
but does nothing. Another is behind her,
encircling with one arm, and the other
stabs, slices her open from sternum
to navel. She gasps, but within
the wound are only wires, pistons,
circuitboard. Did you see it too? The moment
that told us what violation meant: forced
to look, and see only flesh.
– Zoë Brigley
I killed the idea of a three
person standoff when my
ghost sat watching in a diner,
on the interstate. Tore
through the parking lot
in my grandest, finest
moment, bleeding my soul
into winter’s dead sky. Wept
in the taxi with the illumin
ati. Have you ever taken
the last boat home? The
sea still knocks on my door.
I kissed the turf and found all
those tangerines offering
a release from my structur
ed blue jersey.
– Aaron Kent
as with most things, i love the sea, but it doesn’t love me back
i love the blue-green-green-blue water, the seafoam churning,
bubbles glistening and melting under the heat of the sun
when the boat rocks and waves crash, i tremble,
my body isn’t stable enough, can’t answer the door
when someone knocks, or taps, or rings, or cries
as with most things, i don’t believe in ghosts, but i swear i saw one,
once when i was 6, and lived in the bad part of town with my
unwed mother, infant sister, and the ghost of an old woman
there were needles scattered all over the wooden floor when we moved in,
everyone insisted the old woman was a diabetic, but there’s no mistaking
the lingering stench of heroin for the sterile clean smell of insulin
– Caseyrenée Lopez
Why are we speaking in tongues /
why are we not splitting the atom?
You’ve taken a stick to the proverbial bush,
but still haven’t told me who you are,
or how the snow feels on your skin,
or where you hide during thunderstorms,
or what your earliest memory of failure is.
I don’t know you yet, Teige,
but I know your games.
– Aaron Kent
Know my games:
1. I like list poems
2. I wrote this outside underneath a sycamore tree
3. I live in London
4. I once read an issue of Potato Review and I may have enjoyed it.
5. If coffee burns my throat, I may just throw it out with the computer I am writing this on
6. If I normally write in a notebook, why am I writing on a computer?
7. I eat cereal with a soup spoon
8. My name is pronounced similarly to an animal in a famous Blake poem
9. . . . . . . . .
10. Guilt. I don’t like it. Gotta fill in the gaps somehow
13. I hope you saw the pun in this line.
15. Going to the ATM, the ghost of monies past jumps out at me from the card slot
16. ‘Dude. There’s no point.’
17. I hope you like games Aaron.
– Teige Maddison