Issue 17: Chris Kerr

Toilet Water Cycle


Ex-perfume exits the apprentice

as pee. It makes the porcelain ring

like the bell above the shop door

before a break up. A dropped flacon’s shards

are small enough to be lapped safely

by a dog on the way out, unnoticed

because clean. Its owner will sweetly recall

his new ex’s natural scent as neutral:

sweat on the gear stick when coasting.

The sharp aromas of a handful of petals

mark the vertices of that odourless gem.


‘Calibrate your receptors, first to dust,

then crushed jasmine. Proceed

to rock salt. Last, seal them to all

but the fermenting bacteria.’

So Jacques Polge learned to smell

at Grasse. In time the perfumer could

make a boulder on the expanse shrink

to a beach pebble with a splash or spray.


At 37°C his Coco

has met kiss temperature in the vial.

Such a hot day leaks from the veins

of full-bodied flowers at the window

that they don’t bother with allergens.

Esters evaporate and drip down again

in the bottle, circling a woman’s name.

His formula bathes in a white file

in a hard drive whose fan twirls.  


A pipette of MSG, chased with dry ice,

unglues smell from taste a touch.

She counterfeits perfumes

against the musk of patent libraries,

sniffing out the unique specimens

those books press. The unknown

ingredient is the unreachable, erogenous

pixel she skirts: the doppelgänger

that makes exes more bitter.

She drinks. Tonight she leaves the flute

in her garden under a cold front.

Some raindrops have a sweet aroma,

others sour. Two freeze

like nostrils to the glass.


For whosoeuer axeth, receaueth (1)

Sing. They

fills the bleachers

all the way back from the beach

of their use.

Between the flags

the distant pee

of some refugee

off another continent

is just felt as warmth

by you and I under the seat

of our pant.

Staying inside frosty breath

my cries mesh

and you sees there you

really are too wet to ax

surfers for aid

before vaporising.

After tests on the recent sea

a celebrity walks on heavy water

buoyed by the extra neutrons.

They calls it Galilee.


(1) Myles Coverdale Bible, Matthew 7:8.


The model posed glassless

in the doorway

and said ‘make my spine hiss

at both ends

like a python partly

in a frying pan.’

The photographer clicked

until her nose bled.

She went to the bathroom,

came back, and it started again

and he muttered ‘yes,

that’s more’. She felt lighter

though her blood loss

undoubtedly made her

volume grow slightly

as it fell on her,

which was regrettable.

The photographer hallucinated

smears drawn from anorexic

Type A fingers on her top,

meaning you can’t use this:

it’s personal. It isn’t.

It was a male model. Sober too.

He was always finishing his

girlfriends’ sentences

with words like ‘faecal transplant.’

Ovidian Obsidian

The hardness scale meters rocks

out of hardiness, other ground stuff,

and a dampness after the flood

that waits as shadow for body parts.

When you look into the near-mirror

of Obsidian glass you soften

into Pliny’s busting elephant head

so hurl it (cliff face) off the wall.

Light shatters in continents of urine

in a novel way at this age

not seen since before the Cretaceous

whether you check the chart or not.

Chris Kerr’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Ambit, Oxford Poetry and Under the Radar. He recently completed an MA dissertation on Basil Bunting’s poetry at Durham University. Chris is currently working on a collaborative code poetry book. He is a trustee of Magma Poetry and has guest edited an issue of Meniscus.

Copyright © 2016 by Chris Kerr, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.