James Nixon, who teaches at Arden University, is completing his doctoral research into the legacy of Arthur Rimbaud and hauntological poetics at Goldsmiths, University of London. He's a former Royal Holloway Emerging Writer Fellow, a Writer-in-Residence at Cove Park, and a Writer-in-Residence at Phytology, Bethnal Green.
The night is a cul-de-sac
we’ve been chased into –
the houses have foreign coin
The innocent quiet
is not what it seems.
carrying taxidermy for comparison
roam the undercrofts
slips into place
like a contraption round my head.
I have been alive today
and not done much about it.
I have drifted complacent
I'm in crisis.
Why your arm,
slung across my chest,
feels so real,
I squeeze its meat to send myself
some signal, clamp my body
‘M A T T’. Rhymes with flat, as in
deflated, as in a kept birthday
balloon shrivelling & bleeding air,
as in smoker’s lung. ‘M A T T’, as in
not shiny, unremarkable. I don’t
think you’re that, ‘M A T T’, but I
can tell this shift has you feeling
tragic, as in self-esteem, as in the
future’s lost collateral. That I should
not kiss you, ‘M A T T’, makes me
want to smother you lovingly, but
always with the idea of quietus in
mind. ‘M A T T’ named in air quotes
as if you’re hypothetical. Do people
feel WELCOME wiping their feet
on you ‘M A T T’? Do you wish to
leave? Not just this store but this
this life. Sea levels are multiplying
‘M A T T’. The planet is ready to
belch all over us. Now is not the
time to be passing avocados from
your right hand to your left hand &
mixing greys on your palette of
sighs, but slinking from bed while
your wife sleeps in & driving
undramatic to some port town.
As in lobbing your smartphone,
ditching your car. As in deciding
on an outgoing ferry that colour &
thrill are still possible, while the sun
is delivered and opened. As in an
invitation. As in come away with me
‘M A T T’.
When my appendix was removed it was incinerated.
There is nothing extra about me. The sun feathers through the blinds –
my hip-scar shines like a hieroglyph.
The house is climate.
I test the acoustics with subtle applause and swan about the patio
paved a healthy pink – hit the pool occasionally –
– my heart small and hard.
Alligators doze in the middle of roads beneath detergent skies.
Palm trees droop like exclamations propped against the horizon.
The tennis courts –
A darker reflection in sliding doors at dusk looks like fire
taking off its nightgown.
Moths inhaled into the hurricanes of wheel arches
are likely screaming on the interstate.
And there are widespread riots in urban areas. But I hear blue whales
have returned with calves to the Sea of Cortez.
I drove through a storm at night
but not recently. Sedate is the word
– the weather is sedate.
Pillowtalk: exclusive first publication by iamb
Cashier: earlier draft was shortlisted for the Bristol Poetry Prize
The Weather: earlier draft appeared in Ambit (Issue 234)