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Caroline Bird

My sleepless one, I’m sending you green tea

across the time-lines. Drink for a well-being effect.

I chiselled a bar of soap into a figurine. A figurina.

How’s life between backwards forwards hands?

How’s life in dirty water my sweet figurina?

I scraped the last grain of soil from my mouth,

been crashing a dodgem around the M1,

the newspapers are made of butter, folk

buttering their toast with stories of suicide

bombers dying from paper-cuts. Death by eye-contact.

We’re not allowed to look at each other now,

the army supplied us with goggles.

The air is too cold to breathe,

a man with an aerosol comes round once a week.

The bananas are straight like bean-poles

from the stress. The maps are wrong.

They found the leg of a car mechanic under a car.

The streets tinkle with light jazz rain,

the bus-shelters flicker like holograms.

One in ten people are invisible:

I walked through a woman on London bridge,

I wouldn’t have known but my clothes were silted

with spit and I felt like I’d just been ice-skating.

My best friend got pregnant six times

in the last month, and already her kids have left school

and built their own parking-lot in the heart of New York.

The life expectancy of a fly is one second.

The human brain is dirty and infects the blood

with ‘gongbellchimus,’ a contagious disease that causes

the patient to believe they have a large amount of gold

inside their rib-cage. Rome could now be built

in a day, using lazars, plasticine. Sometimes

I feel like one tiny light-bulb in a huge flashing poster

advertising peanuts. I’ve been avoiding food with additives.

Government officials in dentist chairs wearing face-packs

and reading philosophy. Everyone is toned. Toned hair.

Toned noses. Free mineral juice. They’re calling it ‘The Grand Detox.’

I found a ring on the road, which I put on my hand.


From Oxford Poetry Vol 13 No 1 (Spring 2009)