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Two Poems /
Small Talk
& Fact 


i. Small Talk

a banker at
the table is
asking questions
he doesn't answer, like where
are you from?
and pulled
like a rabbit from
a stranger’s mouth
before I answer
my sentence
is spoken
all fluff none
of the bone
as if I won’t
and they’re not
wrong but laughing
and distracted
by a disease
I didn’t get
having spent
my weakness first
chance I had
like kitchen table
crumbs flung
over the edge
of the hand’s
into the charity
of the unnamable
states of being
and things
where are you from.
my mother, why?
do countries mean anything to you
don’t worry
I hang my own
demons on the wall
and countries are meaningless
who gave you one anyway
what does it mean
do you take it
to bed
does it leave you
chaste and well-rested
don’t you know
countries are time
out of place, they’re soup
with a chalk
silhouette, crust
in the petri dish
of yesterday’s
waiting for a spit
now you’re
what’s your
no man
is an island
but a one-
woman country
I grew my limbs
opaque dancing
on slippery leaves in glass
mules drawn for
women around children’s
feet the size
of a howl
in a fist
a gift
I returned in time
to get here
and you let
yourself in
what, did you forget
a room was born
around your mother
when she danced alone
thinking about you
thinking about you
and no one
else before
you were born
and that’s
your name
why do you have
the financial times
in your hand? another
banker once said
to be relevant
all artists
should read it
and once I did
I decided to take
the words for
poetry not his
word for what
it takes to be
a poet 𝄐 my favourite
ones are not yet
born, busy or already
dead and it is amongst
ourselves that we extend that credit
what are you
doing here and who
taught you
to speak like that
I was invited
but I’m not
a guest
I swallowed
this language
when it tried
to steal my breath
buying smoke
for my mother’s
homesick breath
around her
homesick bed I grew
my tongue watching
television alone
talking back
until it was longer
than my uncut hair
in every
language why so
some raise peaks
some dig in, make
dough out
of darkness

learn language back
to the beginning
back to
single things
the eyes see
whole and fit
the hand
don’t look
at the words themselves
look at the way
the words wrap into
the next the way
the bride is
wrapped into two
talking about her
around a drink
wrapped around a story
I just read
about her
isn’t a boundary
in the end
it’s all
resonance not entropy
tell me
did the chuckle
at wit's
end come
first or
the immovable

ii. FACT

We were watching
Werckmeister Harmonies
when my mother leaned over and whispered in my ear: “This actress was the first woman your real father ever slept with.”

you weren’t there
which is a tricky fact 
because how do you
prove nonpresence
even if you were there
there is no witness
who speaks the same language now
as they did then

the dogs don’t know your smell
the birds are not you
memories are not you
and nothing stuck to
except women for
a while
you wound and left
like egg timers

and since I wasn’t
when you were
stabbed in the night
on the other side
of the world
between the ribs
of your fifth
and sixth life
I wonder

did you think
of us or did you
beat yourself
to it and stay
in the moment
in a pool
of your blood
the wrong side
of your skin

like a slapstick
fire blanket
and lay there
long enough
to see it dry
and have a final
to ponder the sublime

Sára IVÁNYI is a Hungarian artist and writer who lives and works in Amsterdam. She is currently putting together her first poetry collection.


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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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