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FOUR Poems


Daughter of Marxism

Sitting atop a hill in Orvieto the child could see nothing but
ten wild goats, herding their young. There were woods to hide
in but he preferred his own jokes, still new to them, still sticky
on the tongue as he found his language inside it. Sitting atop
a hill in lent an old man remembered only the first time he
had learnt the trick of looking up schoolteacher’s skirts. Now
he takes to the shops, headfirst brandishing a ruler, the length
of a stomach, such games the child finds endearing. Sitting
atop a hill, hard to climb, outside the hospital, newly built with
petroleum negatives, the ageless woman gasps the hyaline air,
crosses herself with the frenzied motions of a man rocking
himself under a tundra of cloud, orange as Ophelia, feeling
hope fall. Sitting atop a hill in Marseille the woman dreamt
of panisses and oranges, and antibodies in small black hats,
and wounds that laugh gutturally, cooked them herself, did
the work of a sore aureole and took the child back to the crib. 

Where may it be spring? 

Here not
but somewhere? It was an uncertain spring.
Spring, she said, come, again.

Spring Morning

Atomic clouds
curdle in coffee
this morning
the shrine of
an egg that
falls from the
sky while
you sleep
drink up!

Hail locusts!
Hail comment!
Hail yoga with
Adrienne! the
radio cries
on dreams
bubble up
in Portmeirion
on the telly
again the
world is in
last orders

Out of the
loudspeaker the
thunders on
denote sin
and keep it
out of your
heart, the
funeral, an
needs a

pods blast
into spring
over the
spring the
sound of

The sky has a
new fever a
new pallor
in the
image they
the sun which
seemed to be

The moon
a straw
the stone
the pass
of the stone
calls itself


All earth is
a quarry
belly up, all
life’s labour
finger and
rub gently
rock gently
look to
cell walls
city walls
lava a
mind within
us the stakes
are still
and everyone
in it waiting
to explode

The Left Hand of Darkness

Renewal speaks in dehydrated dreams, risk taking
whistles through time unrecorded, dreams

sublimate prime minister fantasies, no thank you, stay
inside, spilt wine, split wine, where the cold gets colder,

casts out an inflammatory net, tenderised hope, the planet
cannot feel itself, the cities are thirsty, down and out, know

not how to give milk, altitude sickness creeps and
descends, who makes decisions like remove the flatlands

fire up the family homes, couples betroth themselves
at the end of the earth, our lady of the snows that aren’t

in heaven melt your Methodist heart. Meanwhile at the
aquarium the penguins look in at their world, baffling

strange humanness for the very first time, odd isolated
knowledge, reality is mewing, marring, mooring outwards.

Your idea of a good time you figure is absolute love, what a
time to discover it. Hold each other abject selves on parole in

your scrubbed-out hands, the feeling is overripe, passion
inconvenient. On the TV, the Cold War plays on, in the

kitchen, husbands are still being manufactured, shove
them in the oven, by the coffee, saving time is a mood.

Time is an environment, any reasonable decision is
continental. Your sister is holding out in the basement,

sleeping through the amber under the clouds, while
the clouds implode, women do such things. In exile,

we write, apologise afterwards for having taken such
liberties, having pretended not to be hauled up in our

semitropical gardens whilst the catastrophe belches.
There is nothing safe except touch, nothing surer than

a half working week. None of these social experiments,
shove them, here are the reasons why your middle-class

apartment is not the thin froth of morning transport
industrial symptoms are not Greek, what we need to

get our head around trembles in black water, gushes
out of the radiographic machine, loops on second-hand

time that cannot be touched without burning. A paralysis
takes over the tongue, ministers repeat bodies will be

sacrificed, meanwhile believe yourselves free agents, the
health, service is enforced, code assassination, the end

days of a blue decade with chattering teeth. Still the cricket
natters away, piercing the archive, your chest, heavy with

morning. Men come apart inside, the best states are not the
mind while the body is an unreliable narrator, a balloon

filled with dirty emetics and standardised personnel,
buckling under repeated strain and the consent of others

and too much, too little care. The sun spits out its apocalyptic
pips, humming of ribbons, arms, convulsions of flushed isolation

show themselves in the blood flickering in. The windows are
pronged with dust, gerrymandering the outside, time’s up,

what it does to your insides, below the law falters, agnostic
prayer and bread envy pulses through the afternoon, hope

is not optimism anything but stoicism which comes only
in clipped intonations, bugger them all, dialect circuit

beats the landscape, there are words still to be tasted, anoint
yourself with fear, what stupidity not to keep a cat, to forget that

we are made of 10,253 invisible parts, not counting, so much
time for a tongue to get around, so much time for time not to

pass, yet not to have enough of it, what a commodity time, still
though small things too, we continue to eat cheese in the evening

plant seeds, brush over the past lightly, take out the rubbish, pray
against life sentences, edge around the mind’s rind. It was a

decision we made to keep the windows open, uncleaned, to think
about our small white monkeys, injuries at birth, love exhales

profit, it was enough to see children playing still on Rosa Luxemburg
Platz, hands mothed-up to the heart, where the light enters.

States of Bewilderment

States of emergency are states of the spoken
body speaking bodily is not yet to have spoken
paralysis is not a body that can be airlifted into
speech. In the insane light of morning anxiety
flings through the window. The inside let’s itself
out. A breath, a sight, a whimper curdles in the
edge of rain around the window’s exhalation. The
graphable chokes out the rainbow, we eat data for
breakfast. Data vomits a synchronised spectrum
of dominance, turns white to red. Pain is regular,
justifiable, flesh-wrapped, monetary. We, are all
in this together, the roaring clap sounds as night
falls, we, explodes in the past memory.

States of working the pink tongue-typed hour. The
end is close but who could be closer than this, you,
hey stranger! holed up, the shrapnel of injury shoves
the spring panic into the serviceable branches of the
imagination. Babes would be born, babies would not
be borne. Still nationalism, still forms, still buildings,
still landlords, still deposits kept, still bastards stilling
time. Time’s up. Time for breakfast, have radishes with
your apocalypse, keep speaking of the not gardens at
the heart of the city where the real green is. Partial
inventory of morning says time’s up time and time’s
up can it still be true, for how long can it still be true.

The best states are not of the mind but of the mind
dreaming. Entry level planning, entry level planting.
Even then, armed not with resources. Disability plants
itself inside the memorandum money is no object. The
collective body speaks the words of a Russian scientist
with a feel for life after death, whilst other states choose
certain death. Loved ones never your loved ones. There is
not a we to hold but we are in neither of these places. The
streets are unoccupied, the streets will be occupied, listen
to the sounds that plant themselves, bring back the stall, a
state of mind communal, have you not listened to it out the

Out the window an in breath punctures your chest. Everybody
is your body now, your body is everyone’s, alright Whitman!
Hard to believe there are this many holds inside, buildings to
occupy, downloading hope in the isolation station. Laughter
shakes us into focus, inducing labour pains. The family cannot
hold up, held up, for this we offer prayers. One rose for another
rose, a dream of an empty street with flames at your back and
crowds with no faces, pumpkins beached. We are all beached
whales in the aftermath of a golden libertarian coalition. The
starry vespers are cute, play cutely, the minister said, letting
go of the frame, the body sings, the body slings a shot out the
window. The colonel said he would write the poem himself.

Failed states speak with cotton in their mouths. It is not a
brief history, it is an ongoing history of nothing that is not
inviolable nothing that is not inalienable nothing that is not
not addressable. All things wash up at low tide, as long as the
satrapies are in order. The present madness is singular: crisis
and power qualified to the nth power. This is not theory. This
is not Marx and Hegel though they knew. This is not your boy
friend in the pub telling you he is a philosopher, drinking on
someone else’ expense. That is all. Workers in Iowa withhold
their labour in exchange for the certainty that we will commit
ourselves to building safety. Here is a model you say, we say,
with working lungs.

States scatter ashes the wind blows back onto its
greener soil. There is a history of feeling of weather testing,
weathering is the work of mourning in climates where grief
is ordinary, everyday, we could be saved by a rubber boat,
a comet, of the imagination, the alternatives are your guess
gage, gauge, gall, foreclosed feeling, tot up the past, fabric a
feel of possession. Flow, break the flow, it is not operational, 
it is not optional. The only relief is relief in grief, grief that is
taken hold of, grief that leaps to frenzy. Such states produce
octaves of rage that have not yet been discovered. The time to
discover them is time up, growing inside, inside balloons
outwards, the future, a fracked heaven floats over red sand.


Jess COTTON is a writer living in London.

She writes mostly about poetry. 


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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