Blackbox Manifold

Issue 13: Adam Crothers


The sparks fly upward. Then I’m born.

You haven’t seen my like before.

This isn’t quite a compliment.

The sparks no longer make the rent.

They’re soon evicted. Some are hosed down.

This my mongrel-voiced proposal:

impenetrably nondescript,

let my mind no marriage admit.

Still friends are wed at Hampton Court,

of which I’m sent to give report

in quatrains, user-edited.

I try to speak in relatives.

It could be worse. That’s a joke.

Sorry for mumbling. Sorry I spoke.

Sorry for my keen aversion

to, of a sudden, sundry persons.

Sundry persons [who?] are dead.

Or let the thought go to my head.

I let my head go to my liver.

My head’s a girl. I can’t forgive her,

although some godly might demand it,

saying Christ is even-handed:

even, once the hate’s abated,

a fairytale’s views on race get dated.

Brothers Grimm, come eat my heart.

The sisters of mercy have gone and depart-

ed—pace, pace, Leonard Cohen.

Pace about your patchy cabin:

I’ll pace myself about my mansion,

note floodwaters’ surface tension,

buoy my mark, enunciate,

but skim the script and come in late.

And come in bulk. And come in brine.

Yet businessmen won’t dig my whine.

I may make something close to sense,

but write it down as recompense:

the genius of my best man-speech…

They say my grasp exceeds my reach.

I’ll end up holding far too few

of what the farther-reachers do

and fisting in my palm the tiny

love-to-love I’d hoped behind me.

It tries to give up. I can’t let it.

I try to kill it, but I pet it.

The flash-mob of the wedding dance

plays victim to my circumstance.

Adam treads on what Eve sews,

as Stanley Moss gathers what Sisyphus rolls,

and once I’ve crushed sufficient people

I hash out Autumn Sequel’s sequel,

grow from my initials hack,

make beasts with a paperback.

I’m loaded now with crappy stew.

Commence the taming of the screw.

I have not one regret to give.

I’ve other people’s lives to live.

I’ve crows to cock. I’ve ears to lop.

I long to make the Swedish pop.

My future’s as a hoarder, sort of:

witness my canned-laugh-packed aorta,

and lick my love pump, Lykke Li.

My wiki leaks a lot of me.

I sell the farm. I sail the Main.

I worry ’bout the army in the slow, slow train.

Villanelle Fire

A car explodes until we’re all inside.

I only came outside to take the air.

I caught the gist of what the swallow said

(the swallow prides itself on lacking pride):

‘For god’s sake, get the kids into the car!’

A car explodes until we’re all inside.

It happens all at once, which isn’t bad.

A paranoid interpretation snares

‘I caught the gist of what the swallow said’

and plucks its feathered shrapnel from my head;

I kiss you and I kiss a solar flare;

a car explodes until we’re all inside.

You don’t believe the day we would have had.

You don’t believe a thing, though, any more.

I caught the gist of what the swallow said

and thought its payload was a heavy load

to bear when shuttling through a system where

a car explodes until we’re all inside

‘I caught the gist of what the swallow said’.

Adam Crothers was born in Belfast in 1984 and works in a library in Cambridge. He received his PhD in English from Girton College in 2010. His poems and criticism have been published in Oxford Poetry, PN Review and The Stinging Fly, among others, and a selection from his work will appear in New Poetries VI (Carcanet, 2015).