I return home from my travels
to find a fridge full of apples.
My mother stacks them by the tray
knowing they will outstay me here.
I explain that apples are píng guǒ
and that fruit is shuǐ guǒ, and when
she asks me what bananas are
I tell her that they are yellow.
Somewhere, along the line of speech
that dictated an entire year
I dropped my pitch to harsh whispers
across crowded bars in the direction
of people who pretended to understand
my many gestures, many slurred words.
It is different when I teach, thankfully,
the voice of my profession born heavy
in my chest to reach backseat corners,
to raise hands in response, to nod heads,
and it is for the best that this job
will be the rest of my life, straight line.
I’ll switch to the café scene, to loud friends
and I’ll make a small salary but speak content.
Lunch on an abandoned railway platform,
we found detours disguised as shortcuts
and let the present become the past,
you marked it on the map as a footpath
with pen and arched back against an oak.
Packed sandwiches, my father would approve,
first lunch in a fortnight. We had told him
where we going, even though we were only
walking for the sake of walking,
following the trail into the trees
with nettle stings to raise on knees
you reserved a smile for every opposite direction.
From afar, we watched the birds partly obscured,
and I recalled the way my father had cursed
when the pheasant has emerged as a blur
of brown and blue coming down Winter Hill.
It had been a long fuckkkkkkkk which faded
to a high whistle, fully spooked that high
above sea level. The look of fear I share
when I cycle in the city during rush hour.
The three of us prefer walking, laughed
our way back towards familiar civilization.
Home is where the haemorrhoids (fl)are,
wake up to bleed the morning. Ariana
Reines wrote about hers. I wrote about a dog
day weekend, was happy to hear her speak word
to a half-empty echo hall, blazed internal
and just a little bit external, kept it to
I still think about the fried chicken line
all the goddamn time.
She believes in God again;
I tell her that I can’t.
I watched my grandfather die
She says she found her way back
Picking cobwebs, all these
things we fail to notice
until handing in the notice,
dust trail on the windowsill,
streaks on the bathroom mirror
which only show in the light
passing through the many
streaks on the bathroom window.
I found seven hairpins
hidden behind the bedside lamp,
a small graveyard accumulated
before the absence. Wallpaper
splinters scattered around the doorstep,
thee hanging threads of the extractor fan,
ash beneath the washbag on the stand
scraped into a borrowed dustpan,
the streaks attacked with a damp cloth,
the hairpins pocketed. The door locked.
I suppose that it was always going to end like this,
the two of us down on our knees
looking for the drugs that may or may not
have rolled under the couch, condemned
by the clumsy movements of good friends,
and if it is to end like this then it ends
beautifully, with your rogue algorithm
bleeding sound, with my numb fingers
rediscovering the same stale raisin
before they find the inside of your mouth,
the base of your spine in parting outside
this familiar haunt to walk home suitably
stoned, the record you called cliched playing
on repeat as daybreak danced along vacant streets
while semen stains the mountaintops, semen
on the couch cushion you found the pill under
when I was already too far gone to share
the high and to then again come undone.