Question & Answer 2 – George Elliott Clarke

Question 2

Do not write
for Kristine Kochanski
on Saturday nights.

– nobody works on
Saturday nights –

A hologram
of my mother burning
my family tree.

– that’d be a lovely
metaphor –

How do you kill
your spare time? I’ve
got shiny distractions.

– five fish? You’d
be rich –

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

[The Odyssey of Ulysses X: Outtake]
(In memory of Sir Derek Walcott, 1930-2017:
The Adam of Decolonization)

While lizards fringed ceilings and clung next clefts,
…………I lingered with Circe,
lounged in her sun-scorched sand,
…………and tracked iguanas as they snacked on butterflies.
My hostess’s slit eyes signalled Disdain;
…………her thigh-slit skirt ignited Desire.

My men, too rambunctious to ramp
…………their lances into queans,
to take a tramp and take to bed,
………….quick became oinking hogs.
They chewed lotus,
…………and laid up with lottas*
in dug-outs no better than latrines.
…………Once Sensuality—satisfied—waned,
they became as melancholy
…………as torn apart Orpheus,
and now no better than swine—
…………wallowing in wet-sand seductions
executed by capricious nymphs
…………enthralled by a Capri moon,
while grey waves nickel-plated the beach.
…………The indescribable Nudity of
les belles dames sans merci

…………reduced my sailors to intolerable Lechery,
and speech that scaled from shrill Stupidity,
…………to growled Imbecility.
A once, good-looking society of soldiers
…………changed into greasy, porcine things,
as untamed as Degeneration.
…………Evolution gone perverse.

There’s no better-quality Torture
…………than to make a sailor go to ground,
grunting over slops and tripe,
…………and sniffing at turds,
or slurping up piss,
…………burying his snout in carcasses
and tusking through garbage.
…………Well, at least he no longer radiates rum,
but bears the hilarious smell of feces—
…………the comedic stench of Buggery
and leaves off the interminable swishing
…………of sails
before sea-winds,
…………to come into the humiliating Cemetery
that is Butchery
…………blood slickening blades
to bring on ruddy throw-up—
…………in a climate of tar and lather
and the monotonous Syntax of squeals
…………and howls.
Anyway, the tar-trotters are disemboweled
…………in their beds, while they sleep—
the result of antediluvian Corruption,
…………retrograde rotting.

My meddlesome mistress—
…………my bored, ironic adulteress—
Circe,
…………has had thrown at her
bouquets of tapering penises,
…………all pelting her crotch.
But she flung away the chalky white
…………examples of this male debris—
each would-be-polluting sinew,
…………each consecrated scream,
or fed these iconic scraps
…………of men to withered whores,
elderly and so now as pious as nuns.
…………The sucking of their jaws
rendered my own supper uneasy,
…………so that I lusted for the splintering of silver
on the wind-pecked sea,
…………to escape the plaster-white bounty
of cocks torn from a skyline of dried-out carcasses—
…………in a dark circumcision.
Circe shrugged and said,
…………“If you weren’t eating that lamb,
it would be eating grass.”
Love legislates Nihilism, clearly.

[Nanaimo (British Columbia) 22 octobre mmxv]
* Finnish: Women soldiers

– George Elliott Clarke

Question & Answer 1 – Jeff Alessandrelli

Question 1

Apparently I died some sixty
odd
years ago. At least that’s what
my brother will have me believe.
I picture him awake oh
eight hundred hours. All six and a half
foot of him, desperately rehashing
my life. With his legs crossed
somewhere near his tits, he tries to fight
the sun in name only, humiliate the enemy
verbally. He has Nike pumps,
decades,
is playing for the away team. Hopes
that five dollars and three quarters
is enough to pay his way. I feel like phoning
him, telling him to go ahead
erase my history, kill my humanity,
I watched him walk into the world,
straight into an empty chamber. Blood isn’t thicker
than water, it’s just a different
colour. How do your family see you, Jeff?
Are you left behind by their rapture?
Or do you embark with them? I’ve seen
my brother’s comet streak
and I don’t wish to jump aboard.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 1

I live in an airless room,
a yearbook photo,
a sock puppet
blossoming with holes.
The room’s silence
is predictably suffocating,
full of judgment—
but it’s a pleasant stifling
nonetheless,
one I’ve grown
used to. You can
pick your friends
but not your family
and this lack
I’ve made my own,
all my own.
I don’t want money
like my sister
or fame
like my brother
or glory
like my son—
I just want
to be whole.

– Jeff Alessandrelli

Question & Answer 1 – Daniel Roy Connelly

Question 1

I am not drowning in waves of delta sleep,
or pulling myself through the streets
still half-asleep and begging for jumpers
for goalposts.

I am not catholic dreaming.

Are you crossed to your bed?
I try to sacrifice myself to the owls,
and the moths,
while I wait without grace
for the world to fade into espresso gold,
and bring my wife back from the terrors
whispering charms,
whispering safety,
whispering light.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 1

Q1: REPLY
BEGIN
You commence with what you are not.
This tells me things about you.
Looking at the options you must be pretty relieved.
You won’t get more than one crowd-catch in a lifetime, Aaron.
Don’t spill your pint for half the world to see.
To think we could have met in a pub for Guinness and chatted
cricket or even rugby and never have known the other
had compacted things to say about delicate subjects when alone.
I know what it is you’re talking about.
Like you, I get stuff done.
A really good way to bring your wife back is the change of season.
Trouble is, hate to break it, I don’t want to piss all over your Spring,
you seem a giver of alms who wouldn’t deserve it, but cherry blossoms
are laced with something nasty this year. Is there an emoji for that?
Sometimes I am crossed to my bed but for different reasons.
I know what it is you are talking about, we’ve all got holes in our buckets,
Aaron, it’s all right, fire away, tell us what you mean to say.
I hope my next response comes clean as this.
I also writhe inside a claw of sadness.

– Daniel Roy Connelly

Question & Answer 2 – Cyrus Parker

Question 2

Eventually the doctors will strangle the good from my throat.
There are seventeen moths living in the back of my mouth,
masking the holes in my gums, masking the holes in my gums.
We always go back to the same coffee shop to advocate
for the symptoms of a hiatus hernia. The coffee is volcanic
in ways Nescafe would describe as ‘good for young children.’
The acid reflux is worth two Americanos, and an espresso
on Sunday mornings, count the hours at night because
you’ll never get them back. Premium grocery lists don’t
shimmer like haikus, but every list is a series of traits I never
want to inherit. Do you read notes left on shop floors?
Scour the enemy’s predictions, the stock of cat food, the rise
in cheap cereals, the Blue Danube Waltz across the
cigarette stand. Burn the doctors, burn the caffeine, burn
the groceries, it will all be ok, it will all mask the holes.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

but isn’t that human nature, though?
to find comfort in the things that destroy us,
to mask the pain with something even more hideous,
so we might feel a little less ugly
when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
so we might feel a little less ugly
when they look in from the outside.
i’ve lived with masks, and without,
and while hiding behind a face that isn’t your own
makes it easier to get to sleep,
what lies underneath that façade
is what will haunt you in your nightmares.
i’ve been trying to take the mask off now and again,
to get to know the stranger that wears my face,
and i’ve learned how he copes:
he eats until knives carve their way out of his stomach
to fill a hunger that will never be satisfied
(the knives, they make more holes, but he knows just how to fill them);
he drinks until words spill out of his fingers
to fill a hole even hate dare not touch;
he fills notebooks with incomprehensible lines of poetry
because he need them to think he has his shit together more than he does;
he reads the notes on the shop floor
because he needs to know he has his shit together more than they do.
he too has moths in his throat, you see,
and he burns every single one of them
that dares leave a hole unfilled.

– Cyrus Parker

Question & Answer 4 – Mark Yakich

Question 4

Today
……..nobody showed up
……..to hear me tell them
I stole my script back,
tore the print from
the inside of a scope
……..I never believed in.
And for some reason
……..I expected these
……………………g
…………………………..h
……………………o
……………………s
……………………t
…………………………..s
to believe in me.
But how can you help
……..when nobody cares enough
……..to melt into your words?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 4

Even if I don’t like somebody, I think that somebody must like him or her so I try harder, but sometimes I think that if somebody else likes that person then I don’t have to.
I live on a one-way street.

*

I am an average chess player.
I prefer to hide than to seek.

*

I do not write books.
I dig holes and then, forgetting that I’ve made them, I fall.

*

Our son collects pebbles every chance he gets and cares for them as though they were pet bugs, but then when he finds bugs he mostly wants to chuck them as though they were pebbles.
I find golf a good way to ruin a long walk.

*

One Christmas Day, I challenged my dad to a game of chess and beat him, only later realizing that my winning was a terrible mistake.
I don’t know whether it’s better to cry in car parks than to hand feed the elderly.

*

I often feel closer to the things that humans make than to the humans who make them.
The diaries I have kept in my life are all stored in a plastic box with a flimsy lock.

– Mark Yakich

Question & Answer 4 – Angela Topping

Question 4

I found my father fighting the miners
under the streetlights – shaped triangular
– shaped unwanted. He never blew
glass into clouds, toned down the mayhem
of his youth, or resented throwing batteries
at the heads of immigrants. These were
stories of pride, tales of the fights he won
as a small right-wing Acton kid. As if
shanking some kid is a prospective gold
medal……………………………………………[I’ve used this line before] [I’ve noted my repetition
……………………………………………………before] [What are we if we aren’t just the signals of
……………………………………………………our memories?] [Like a broken fucking record] [I’ve
……………………………………………………used that before too]

– Aaron Kent

Answer 4

A line or phrase from a forgotten draft
can be prized loose and hammered
into a different poem, like a stud
in an old oak door, or a gem
embedded into silver.

It may wander until it finds
a new place to exist, or be lost
like junk in a jumbled drawer.

Memory too. Polish and shine,
add new flourishes, build it up
till it’s bright and new.

But beware. Beware of chanting
the same spells too often
else they may lose their magic.

– Angela Topping

Question & Answer 3 – Anthony Desmond

Question 3

We could do 30 of these Anthony,
or 60, or infinite, or pi (and I stop point
one four through this poem). Or
try to re-enact the Fibonacci sequence
by doing question 1 twice, then 2, 3, 5,
8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 until we collapse
into an exquisitely formed perfect spiral
and decide to agree that we’ll call it all
a metaphor for art, and then spend
days trying to work out what the metaphor
is: cyclical? Repetitive? Downward fall?
What do you think?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 3

The metaphor is a flushing
of innocence from the
purest forms of speech.
A statement can become
convoluted like twisted
empathy from the mouth
of a belligerent child
or clear like the river
I use in a lot of my pieces.
But, we all see differently:
some look in the mirror
and see all the things
one wishes they could change,
while the other—drenched
in a pool of self-acceptance
like a reflection in a lake
where the water is completely
still.

– Anthony Desmond