Issue 21: Catherine Vidler

Collected Spruce responses, Part 2*

I saw a brush turkey descending the stairs

in search of a less intense relationship

determined to sleep in the variable heather

where marmalade meets the rindless sunlight

ancient grains and inherited merriment

enchantments secreted from a cryptic flaw

where the lakeshore is wealthy with hula hoops

and a trounced troll sleeps on a couch of coins

unnamed smoke in the willow tree

by the undrained marshes will you wait with me

extremities drifting prodigiously

rising early in the flexible garden

loving him like a giddy sprig

sunslick on the presumptuous bridge

something gave way in the crammed script of twigs

something turned up in the turned out treehouse

left my spare vigour by the venn diagram

where the sand dunes are stable throughout the year

tremendous fragments and tiny wholes

chit-chat nest and its hatched despair

like a queasy plea at the ascetic threshold

fashioning sinew from atmosphere

my dogged fancies and conflict avoidance

informal love in the ornament trees

where the spinifex shambles the overdue prairie

my bramble obsessions in the city of smoke

I give you all of my handsome omissions

my thrice-folded decorative serviette

rebutting the make-believe presumption

conceptually conquered the nautical knots

touchtone enhancements to the tired hive

practically trending the ambivalent view

compromised blinds and the slits of light

pothole of uncontained spectral awareness

sullen chimneys and dawdling clouds

bedroom door wedged with celestial objects

loafing alone by the idle waterslide

factual tadpoles in fictional ponds

seepage of perished pineapple juice

unexplained lines of Charades for Focaccia

minor excitements encrusted with rhyme

under the lens of a trembling microscope

surplus gleam of the secondary shoehorn

a wombat at large in the dreaming burrow

a tape-measure flexes its midlife muscle

concealed by a shrub an appeal for indulgence

reflections in the momentary water

when the flea museum unbridles its doors

when the lectern painstakingly starts to unfold

lost in the wardrobe of fervent culottes

three leaf clover at the inquiries desk

on unsociable waters the Lady at Bay

ringbound rain and a fresh rumination

companionship by the cephalopod exhibit

signalling desire in ancillary infrastructure

we stood side by side like parallel chances

crustaceans conversing on a tin-can telephone

fond recollections of the hamster hotel

assiduous presence at the Body-Pump classes

lazy ladders and attic shenanigans

I found my voice in a box full of what

through supple straws the ecstatic mouthfuls

doubting my love gift of an abstract noun

recreational maths and the pelvic storm

salt and pepper alphabetical order

doubly intrigued by singular terrain

new profile pic in a frame of mind

streaming streams where salmon salmon leap

we opened our poem to microbial novelty

the littler igloos and the larger igloos

afternoon with desensitised turnstiles

I rode my new tricycle into the fog

flustered seaweed in a languid tank

unfettered access to the dribbling trifle

rosy light all over the cliff face

Lay all day long in the informal meadow

traced basic shapes with a giant crayon

over and over the colossal pleasure dome

fourteen loosely encrypted rivulets

my chattels marooned on the buffalo grass

tiddlywinks or spontaneous boules

plentiful compartmentalisation

tiny weather in a tiny cave

that time I remembered to close my brackets

concerns exterior to my circularity

the way the cabbage cajoles the coleslaw

vernacular of the protuberant roots

hidden from view in the spinach patch

let down symmetrically once again

a moon with several more moons in its arms

the wandering songs and precision ditties

ecstatically baffled by the pot-bellied stove

toying with a game of noughts and crosses

on the pensive threshold of another hemisphere

testing my tolerance to pulpy juices

permutations with a vulnerable gloss

how many hours in a jar of gherkins

arguable case for supplementary desolation

adhesive failure of the second crème brulee

decade of the incipient migraine

yet another mirage by the parched bedside

like a ragged balloon in a rosemary bush

like resolve undone by a toasty skerrick

like a can recycled for the second time

to tell the time by the time it has taken

knitted transmissions and messaged sweets

your princely ivy upturned in the window

my long division of your amorous flannel

caught in a rip in the stonewashed lake

a basket of apples at the critical juncture

like a soft drink spilled in a tattered cinema

fixed all the leaks with dream expertise

hydroponically blossomed at my therapy session

startled by all the snack-sized rebuttals

precipitated by a stymied tortoise

medium density of the deciduous forest

bewildered by all the birds of paradise

unkempt need and the scrupulous hay bales

breakdown beside the Möbius strip

when it was drawn it was drawn in volumes

moonglow over unfeasible dandelions

circumnavigating the luscious crumb

non-negligibly delayed in the undivulged villa

with the citrus and its copious pith

procedural setback in the erogenous zone

where the text suggests a shapely alternative

in the costume warehouse with racy arrays

ejected from the deliberate gardens

pinstriped shirts and the ladybirds

one more evening with my jar of pickles

limber collapse at the foot of the elm

slow lake in the nervous balloon

we strolled the perimeter of the eeled lagoon

wind-up teeth on the cusp of release

I came back to life as a splinter of driftwood

to measure the wine by the wine it has taken

too many tinned oysters at the nudist beach

leased my admissions from a diffident owner

plumage of the ageing cowardice bird

your horse my horse a borrowed burrow

shed generously in indecorous layers

faintly reversed in the afterglow

still the large moth on the dithering flyscreen

just out of view the precipitous cherries

I want to see the spearmint grids

I want three things in no particular order

his tv room with its small bar heater

the tennis court with a meteorite

her friendship which is like a friendship

I liked your idea in respect of the sandwiches

I liked the way you played Snakes and Ladders

above all I liked all of the above

sometimes a tile behind a broken tile

like a podium felled by a piece of speech

like a headstand farewelled by a forward roll

finding a use for particularity

where squares of smog inhabit the centre

where generality is out of the question

stumbled on waterless ways to make rain

daybreak in a pile of feathers

burnished by a partial flame

textually relieved by a late intervention

I wore hi-vis clothes to alert other clothes

I erred in my failure to fail my error

languidly loudening in a natural setting

abandoned my poem about my abandonment

endured my rapport with plastic plants

strode into the room like an actual want

rode thrice on the cruise-ship waterslide

where the prisms gather in baubled light

where triangular trees trim their shadows in unison

borderline herbaceous the borders are

a cloud asleep in a precious metal

a peach tree in an unvarnished yard

perplexed again by the tricky zipper

I lost my flippers on the coral reef

expelled from my poem without cause for no reason

came into view as a lady apple

spectacularly ruined in a heated room

down the drain the unaided displays

nearly discerned a discernible difference

approximately located in the clearance area

music box in marginal decay

articulate exposure behind the scaffolding

patching paper with additional paper

played in a way with a digital ghost

glass of milk and a panic attack

sodden stars on autumnal footpaths

abject display of an abject object


pausing poolside with hints of hysteria

evening a diagrammatical mess

taking down all of the sumptuous drapes

deliberately with superfluous love

bouncing between these specialised stars

I cultivated my tiny opinion

beside the teetering watering can

hid my ambition in a box of sultanas

attempted a headspin in absolute privacy

tertiary oval with mist to the chest

I let the obsessions attend the small wounds

fresh prednisolone afternoon tea

unbelievable flowers in the thinking space

uncalled-for remarks from the limbic system

bilateral aches in a wisdom of ribcage

misconstrued unmistakably textual

trudging a path through affections of nausea

hypervigilant at the windmill festival

[*Tom Jenks’ long poem-sequence Spruce (Blart Books, 2015) contains 90 9-line poems. Each poem occupies the upper half of one page and is comprised of three tercets. ‘Collected Spruce responses part 2’ is the second of three parts of a work in which I respond to Spruce’s tercets. My poems do not comprise a ‘general’ or ‘retrospective’ response: rather they are the product of an intense, incremental engagement with Jenks’ stunning, original poems. I consider my work in response to Spruce to be like a tree which has been able to grow leaves only by studying the leaves of another, and whose leaves display that existential origin and relationship. A page from Spruce (together with six of my visual poems for Spruce) can be found here. Three other poems from Spruce can be found at Galatea Resurrects.]

Catherine Vidler's recent publications include 78 composite lost sonnets (Hesterglock Prote(s)xt, 2018), Lost Sonnets (Timglaset, 2018), collected composite lost sonnets (SOd press, 2018), lost sonnets (Spacecraft Press, 2018), table sets (no press, 2017), lake labyl (Penteract Press, 2017),  table set poems (Penteract Press, 2017), table set poems (Spacecraft Press, 2017), lake labyl (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass errata slips (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass night and unresolved chaingrass tiling (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass (SOd press, 2016) and chaingrass (zimZalla Object 039, 2016).

Copyright © 2018 by Catherine Vidler, 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.