Issue 27: Katy Evans-Bush

From Lines by Kenneth Patchen 


Ah, you puritan, you political zealot, you religious zealot,

with your credo, your mindfulness, your anthology, you zealot

of cocktails, of running, of telling people what to think, with your

secret art-redefining event in a disused water processing

plant on the outskirts of a town no one really lives in. Well —

no one you know. And you’re such a lifeless, clever little

phony, you wouldn’t really call that living.

You fake news, you fanatical suburbanite, you literalist,

you plodding proceduralist, you mildly racist structuralist, you

sexist whitist, you sexist even though you’re a woman. You

materialist monolectician, you define yourself by your car

while the seawater rises around us, you think ‘creativity’

is different from everything else, you buy coloured pens

to make mind maps of other people’s ideas.

You think creativity is a different activity from everything else,

you clever, lifeless little coward, my little phony, you professional

partisan with no ideas; you think restlessness is energy.

Look around you:those leaves attached to the trees, so casual,

but pummelled see-through by the witlessly conventional wind.

And those striving engines that force the numberless wheels

to spin. Just noise! Do you think they know what they’re doing?

You tired, sad, bedtime little phony, you namby-pamby,

fake reader, you’re terrified of caring! Worse, you’re terrified

of seeming to care. But that ball you set in motion just rolls faster

the further it goes down that hill, and at the bottom of that hill,

at the very bottom, is the real, the genuine you, the one

who was born with nothing to do but care, it was all you had,

caring and crying and milk, learning to see your own reflection,

and you had nothing to do but cling to your mother, you charlatan,

you coward baby, you name-calling egotist, because your mother

was real and she was milk, and sleep because sleep is real, and learn

to be real because that was the only way forward, the only way

a baby can grow, and learn to tell the difference because only real people

can teach you, you somnambulist; your spine and your head were both

straighter then. That’s what it was like before, before all this deciding.


Oh, there’s always another viewpoint.

Take that leaf,

         for example: the way it


         on that tree. It sits

in judgement on what it sees; there is

this commonality

                                 between us and it.

But the autumn leaf is emblazoned

                                 with spring’s belief.

A man lives down here, a man with a

spade in his head

His name is Doug.

                                 Doug dug a dugout

one day down where the leaf can’t see —

home for himself

                                 and for the wretched

skeleton on the rock

                                 who only sits

and thinks ‘rock’.

                                 Meanwhile the middle

class was sitting on its fat

paid-for sofa thinking — well, we know

what they’re

what we’re


The body of the living beats in my hand:

perennial and schemeless.


There, at the entrance to the other world,

every prospect looked tired.

He wanted to throw something

so he picked up a baseball.

It looked tired. The world, it said,

is too old. Too old  for a home

run, it said, and added

you can’t run home.

Whatever home is. Do you know, Mister?

No one knows what’s important any more,

not here at the border

with the underworld where

there is no currency that’s valid.

There’s only what

was always important

[This he knew without being told]

and and and AND.

The rest [he told the ball, looking

right in its limp

stitches] is nonsense

and treason. Just ask

the millions who wait without light.

It was the last full measure

of devotion. There

at the entrance to another world

he looked at the sea of bodies

and thought to himself,

they look tired. And with that

he threw the old tired baseball up

into the air, the last air,

the air before the end,

where it ascended

and ascended and never came down

as long as he kept looking.

Katy Evans-Bush’s latest poetry publication is Broken Cities, from Smith|Doorstop, and her essay collection, Forgive the Language, is published by Penned in the Margins. A polemical memoir on hidden homelessness is forthcoming from CB Editions. She lives in Kent where she is a freelance poetry tutor and editor.

Copyright © 2022 by Katy Evans-Bush, 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.