Issue 8: Zoe Skoulding


Room 204

When entering the room you’ve already

crossed it in an arc completing itself

without your knowledge

                                      Footsteps tick digital

this foot

               that foot with no memory

while the mind sweeps analog through sound waves

bouncing off four walls

                                           This was the phrase you


                  each note altering the last

this was its cadence falling from major

to minor

               willow over water where birds

chant in broken rivers

                                       It seems that you’re

addicted to this music however

hard you try not to listen to it

The bird sings with its fingers


                                                               The bird

sings with its fingers


                                                 I repeat

Room 201

When entering the room he’s listening

for the two silences

                                  the one inside

and the one outside the window


air settled over plumbing and the vague

hush of wind or traffic the way they

fight each other in his ear

                                       If there’s a

third silence in the high-toned hum

of blood he’s paying no attention


cell sings yesterday

                             the slow drowse

of numbers multiplying secretly

at his fingertips

                        every different room

the same and every sameness changed

where sleep undoes the hook


the eye that opens in the wall between us

Room 207

When entering the room you hesitate


mustn’t look back but you look back

                                                        which means

you’ll be dismembered in the old story

or turned to salt


                         Parts of you are folded

in panels of light that cut across the

bottle on the table

                               Starting again

and again

                reassembles the sequence


            We drink from elliptical rims

while the sun that sinks behind the window

illuminates a note folded in two

All of these things are still happening in

the room

               which is a page torn from a


                no longer addressing itself

to anyone in particular

Room 35

When entering the room you walk over

to the window

                       but the light’s not coming


             it falls against brick and blocked exits

this is where nothing holds up

                                              Now you find

you are lost in a basement where there’s no

exchange only repetition

                                      hands caught

in waves of a body’s falling phrases

where we descend

                             mid-way through this life a

tangled wood

                      white skin etched against grey


at death always in a hurry

                                       Try to

move slowly now

                           say this in a language

you only partly understand


the beautiful sentence you have chosen

without seeing how it will ever

Room 4036

When entering the room bathed in data

streams I flick a switch as glittering squares

cascade down the window from far above

the flyover

                 where shapes of workers move

in offices of light and figures glide

over screens in rapid unreadable


              You enter the room in pixels

now you’re breaking up

                                    there’s nothing more to

say you are leaving but I don’t know how

to leave this room

                            whose walls have suddenly


                I roam endlessly over

the chemical scent of new carpet that’s

drawing me to the exact location

of what I remember not happening

Room 131

When entering the room you’re holding a

key in your hand

                             a number in your head

that will be gone tomorrow


it’s too late for the pattern unfolding

through the edges of a music that was


              it was the way we thought

                                                      the dripping


           rain falling

                                 a rhythm we never

asked for but fell into

                                 never missing


           What was the number of yesterday’s


           This is yesterday’s key and today’s

is somewhere at the end of a pocket

that opens unfathomably

                                             as if

I could reach even the silence clanging

between hangers in the empty wardrobe

Zoë Skoulding's recent poetry collections include Remains of a Future City (Seren, 2008). She is a lecturer in creative writing at Bangor University and editor of the international poetry quarterly, Poetry Wales.

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