Issue 8: Sarah McKee
For God’s sake let us sit upon the sledge and tell bad jokes about the deaths of Emperors. Some eggs have been preserved, some spilt; all haunted by the hardest journey ever undertaken.
Practical Cherry checks for shock post annual letter-haul. We have it out stormily time again over with no guesswork, with no Jonah: rimed and dead-beat jobbers only on the bookish trudge.
Our manly hands were frozen, frostmunched through fur. Feet (one or two) through finnesko too. Three cheers for amputation if the trouble do not spread.
One Ton Despondent: this carewon cairn marks staunch pony meat, hoosh up to 34.43 oz. per Englishman who’ll stick it in the neck: we’ll not neglect the sick but rather stick it stick it stick it!
We did not run out of surprises: no-one expects the Scandinavian race. Risks were taken on the hoof with zinc and cocaine supplement.
Here is 12oz. pannikin cocoa pemmican and cracking icebiscuit for Christmas, broke fast over best (beastly, blacking) blubber-tinder, under jumbled hymnal; the some-nightly pianola.
Whose womb curdled the ice? and the hoary frost of hell, who gendered it? She hymns us to prosodic snoring sleep in hardihood.
It is safe as a church in darling Antarctica, awful Krisravitza, oh our beards and foot-sorrowing blisters, enough of the bitter pills are saved to swallow should reach (spell oh!) exceed grasp.
To our most beautiful sweetheart becoming our wife, tugging the seaweed quilt in the ticktick & sleeptalk & bellish loud shambles camp night!
To revised sweethearses under diatomic floes, under pistol-shot through sastrugi skies; under our flagging people up north eleven miles and more, above all, good god, provide.
Ski sticks scratch out the Owner’s last records: we all hauled into the shop to stick it to the pain; and Evans and Titus and Birdie and Bill and me never walked out again.
[The text of ‘Eleven Cairns’ was commissioned for an installation project which took place in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, in October 2011. ‘These Carewon Cairns’, informed by music, photography, letters and literature relating to Scott’s last expedition,was written in collaboration with musician Joe Snape.The performance on October 24 was one of five occurring under the title ‘Access All Archives’, as part of Cambridge’s Festival of Ideas.]
Dear’st Elya what’s
oh what’s your favourite
oh whatever – something
I don’t know? &
what & oh what is it that
so darkens so your brow so
unilaterally my fearing dear? & will
you be a milkman manning wholemilk
goldcapped as a gangster’s tooth, like
what I’ve read about? & will
you bring the cream for
others’ porridge too?
Gory be to smog for covered things! Excreaming eloquence they obfuscated,
chundered themselves over.
In the null set, Elya, they at least set standards stanced and stagey,
maybe and not realler` than your thinking.
`Think – how often’s thought extinct or under smug dark water
neither drowned nor limbit either talent times time only sinks and,
`Your turn. No – d’you – know? You or I to throw? Ah. Oh. My go. I
spin the spinner at footlength with my most spry little toe and I don’t
Not yet because all elements are all part-parcel and partition of
each others: glass: cloud: water. Dampish son and daughter. Scales of
seeing water in the fishbrain skill, it measures up and up and cuts much
Going up and still, what skill! These references stick all finny in my
gullet when I try to think it out aloudly, all this stomachfull of bollock
comes up daily with such repeated trying.
Don’t you think?
Dear’st Elya -
Third of all, the last asker made the cut
and there, then, it was - good.
It - all came all-togetherwards from distance-out.
(We conglomerate. We gather self-bits into
being, spit the badpip
even at long distance-out at quickspit rate, ptoo).
Then remember how will it be, conjunctively?
Then - spot the news before it catch joins up
togetherwards before your primary pupils -
and, and and remember.
Remember. Ampersand I’ll be yours once-a-day.
Third of all, the last asker made its pertinence remark
Amorous. Autonomous. Remember? There there. There was no
,or, Places without names.
Do you remember when Elya it
was I started passing the buck? As
it’s pretty I don’t
ever I was conveyed across
waters like a scurf or scum or
contrast I heard
Here and here and here again.
Only for that illness it
comes & goes,
comes & goes pixie-
tipping leaving greying
ghoulish (hollows: in your
Gimblish it is once you’re
left. Terrible compounds going
back back back and oh
(Aphonia! Aphemia! Aphasia! Alexia!)
again so so so do,
d’you see, do you, here,
d’you know - no? No?
Aye. Living alone leaving alone, loving alone.
alone loving learning and liking alone
loathing alone, loaning and leaning alone
looking and leering, leching alone. Lining
alone. Lying alone. Longing and
letting and letting well alone: losing
alone. Lurking alone, only loitering. Alone
lingering. Littering less lounging alone.
Lone lettering. Love. Alone.
No, I partake not of pills nor of counsel. This is my pride, my
personal keeping my self together, mein Kampf don’t you damn
dare it. Babe, the dust either chokes or it settles.
NB. Beastly reasons for meetings mean disillusory
leanings, cleaned out dealings over sweet cakey
leavings. My only eyes goggle like gobstopping
globular icicles. Hear, ev’rything’s quite quiet
in being enough nearly, clear undear dislight in
this drear or too-weird world, ah me, each loathed
behest screeches in each ear of you so I can tell you
so. These hysterical histories breaking discursively
down scripts to retch to gag to burn
Elya my elya my Elya. Will we play in
earnest once this last exchange
of commerce is complete?
Once upon a while there was always someone
without tender eyesprouts of regret.
It was clear after consideredly considered
time that nobody grew up ruffling their (own) hair.
So, one someone could be generalised like
a nation representing a massy third mass.
We’re all just so much matter
even if we don’t.
Because of this, that.
So this and so damn that.
If you left your pricey philosophy way behind, in front would be
the old political democracy we think is in fact everywhere:
all places placed
My hair’s much longer now. I’m taller, maybe, thinner, even
older. My eyes, strangely, are wider. These only are shoe-leatherette
I wish you’d care to know y’know.
From the interim we’ve come apart so
as I wish oh so wish some one would write about such qualifiers in my
This wishful pretension, yes, have it. And you? Here’s just my own mess of
memories. Material. Undiscarded envelopes in the jungly attic. At home.
Away from home.
Dear’st, there’s no but no place like home, not even home itself. Which
roots to track back homewards to find something like it? Good George, I’m
so unhappy. And restful in the knowledge that that doesn’t at all matter.
At peace so in my piecemeal pieces, it’s. Your call. Outside yes beyond at
last each blue mailed page airily goes you-wards, my words for you all over
and keeping on it at it I’m well all over it, how are-you?
Dear, dear, dear’st, my. Oh my. For the last time we’ll stick together
like foldy bits of envelope, yes, okay? Ah read how my writing’s
diasporated. Good bye and bye I come and go in your all-too-
Dear’st Elya, it’s okay.
Now the vagrant rag-picker recovers.
All these folk in earnest earnest,
dedicating lives to
De-finitely in fine
pen-tune, in black, as semi-, half-, or
pseudo-, quasi-philosophical. Unmemorial time
passed, passes, unmemorialised. Falling
while working. Then
there’s you I’ve not seen in a
while, while both of us kept
on and on
DEAREST STOP EYLA STOP
Sarah McKee lives near Box. She writes for Edinburgh Poetry Review and The Harker. Her poetry has been published in Veer and Volta, and as part of a contemporary opera (Bonesong, Carmen Elektra Productions). Sarah was awarded the Quiller-Couch Prize by the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, in 2011.