Unpronounceable Circle


this is how I’m going to say it he said
your surname a baby’s mitt impossible
to master a needle shoved into the back foot
of light six schoolboys growing into a circle
whatever stands inside dies Bible dust
by my bedside table half of me on psalms
in red biro the teacher repeats me wrong
typewriter teeth grinning at rough baptism
a leather wasp boxing olive skin I stood
transfixed beneath a white rope wondering
if Jamal al-Din Abu’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi
had the same problem how close I came
to the feet of doormen ornithophobia
trailing violent as young woodpeckers

five schoolboys growing into a circle
becoming wet horse hair the boy
who rammed me against his garden
fence hanged himself four weeks later
when I heard I buried three oil lamps
the blast he gave my ribs lives on
his mother gathered ants from outside
the earth releasing them over her dress
the blackest red I’d ever seen his brother
gripped her as she spun like a Cold War fan
all of us then that boy her son his brother
hated tomorrow left us sucking vinegar
from two grey feathers to his heaven
I came with the closing circle to name.






A Discursive Meditation on the Photograph


of image and frame, holding subject
matter by its considered light, can you see,
sentences of angularity, the grammar
of buildings, uniformed neon, the emblem
of something flying, something falling,
middle-distance stare, the popinjay moves
to occupy more corners, dinky libertine,
the sky grows from out your shoulders
garlanded by the matted hair of poverty,
set the coffee on the table, road-kill aesthete,
rushing to buy a footprint in sand;
what is more necessary, the ocean’s blue
or hope? Panoramic view blinded by light’s lack.

A matchstick model of a church
is balanced on a child’s wrist, pray or play?
Move around, hold still for me now, dead
corpse, so stunning and dead, bomb-blast
silent, exploded flash, broken footage,
all barren and ruddy, carnage of apathy,
gruesome and exposed and somehow
newsworthy, dreaming of porn, death porn,
dead porn, murder fatigue, war is a woman
trembling and nude, a man boneless,
war is a boat with a continent in tow,
a grin of bastards, move away from me,
chamomile tea calm, flower market Sundays,

dreamy and bucolic, place it properly,
change the lens, make it personal,
move around, take another antiseptic song,
blue infirmary, where days are drained
by cancer, and there are tumours in the water,
the nurses’ steady lift onto the bed,
is in memory of closed mortuaries
and those further afield, hold my hand
before I die and I love you, hold my hand
as I am born and I love you, a life spent asking
for help, asking for love, do you love me?
Do I look good in this body? In this red
or this green, every colour is alone;

try taking it from over there,
airbrush the moon’s stretchmarks,
ask the river to pout, ask the sea to smile,
how many sunsets do we bury in ourselves
before we die and still my sadness
can be nothing but human,
flummoxed and looking to forget,
can you see, can you feel the breath

of each brick in this city, we are born
to a siren and the wail of each other,
I’ll drink to that, and pray with dog shit
on my shoe and a bladder full of piss
can you    see,

everyone gather round
my worst side,    asymmetric as rock,
this is a honeymoon calling for a rescue
boat, a penny balancing on a baby’s heart,
this is me wanting to look like I’ve been
by someone      other than        myself,
give me direction,         show me god,
keep me still, push
me down,
wash my           thoughts before you
everything is looking for release,

say you look tired,
talk to me about love
the people
you remember

say something different
something strange

talk to me about funerals

the men
who stand apart from their wives
ask me to look up

say there you are

can you see?






Meeting the End of the World as Yourself


Plasters come off under water

hardly anyone gets to die
the way they want

rain only ever looks good
from the inside —

sit up
you sound like a defamed fact

most men die before they reach

you’ve always been too small a miracle

rub these blades
wait to hear the executioner’s
whistle before you panic

mosquitos have been doing this
for much longer than you
and they look great

your mother lied

certain people
will never want to pronounce you

whoever told you
this was a good idea?

you ever kissed
a mnemonist in your sleep?

name two people
who’ll die for you;

how long have you wanted this?

these eyes of adoration
this whole new side.

shall I tell you
what I think?

you look like cholesterol.

in the 1920’s
people believed smoking
was good for them

what’s a mistake but anathema
waiting for science.

show me your hands
turn them round

use them to dig
or punch or stay
but don’t tell me
you really thought these
are what spoke to god

I’ve had toothbrushes
more complicated than you
you look like a social construct
on the scrap heap of history 

you know why she left
why he never picked up
because the world is on fire
and the same thing can never burn twice

but in all honesty, I wouldn’t worry

fill your bellybutton with the ashes
of your neighbour’s dog
the one who died of cancer

you were only born
to make the colour grey look good.

when was the last time
you gargled magnets?

what year was your mother born?

what will you leave behind
when you force oblivion
to take you?

there’s violence in forgetting

never confuse your head
for memory

I’ve told the coroner to expect you
in the morning

whatever refuses to stop
fails to survive






These poems are taken from Anaxagorou’s collection After the Formalities, published next month by Penned in the Margins. Pre-order your copy here.

Photograph © Jenni C

Natural History
From This End of Sadness