James Nixon

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the poet

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 poems

Pillowtalk

00:00 / 00:50
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                        The night is a cul-de-sac

                        we’ve been chased into –

                                      the houses have foreign coin

                                                     for eyes.


                        The innocent quiet

                                                     is not what it seems.


                        Clerical figures

                        carrying taxidermy for comparison

                                      roam the undercrofts

                                                     of sleep


                        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

                                                     to yours.

Cashier

00:00 / 01:42
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                              ‘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’.

The Weather

00:00 / 01:21
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            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.

Publishing credits

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)