Two Poems by Ed Luker


We Owe It to the World Not Yet Here

We believe in freedom
cos we owe it
to the world not yet here,

we know that hunger is real
resting on top their mountain of needs
that this world will never give.

We believe in the world
that they withhold from us,
and we will make justice shine.

The hunger
for that is real simple,
we owe it to the world not yet here.

How did you survive January?

How did you survive January?
I drank, and then I didn’t.
I went to the gym a lot,
stopped going to the gym,
and then started again,
noticed every small declension
in the condition of the world,
logged it in an etching on brown leather
in pink crayon behind my eyelid:
from my abdomen,
to the cracks in the tarmac at the bus stop,
to the salvation leaflets, gambling forms,
and tax bills stapled on your forehead.
I ate healthily, concertedly, emphatically,
then didn’t eat at all,
breathed the miraculous air and then spat it out,
terrified by the definite fact of reality continuing;
I would open the front door,
close it, open it, close it again,
then upon opening it,
I would prise through the gap this spinning disc,
this undulating, ululating,
beautiful peach cream of the pink sky,
this, the world still continuing
to be there, this
each time it swung on its hinges,
that’s the this of the door in your face,
this certainty of going on, as the sun rises and slams
against the bonnet of the day’s sick crest
I washed my sheets a few times,
Roti Factory, next to the launderette,
changed its name to Roti Restaurant;
I don’t know if it is more like a factory
or a restaurant but the roti is still good;
I stomped around outside
in the not cold enough cold
of our ecology collapsing in front of our eyes—
talked to friends
about our incessant hearts breaking—
it’s like we have all internalised,
well, I wouldn’t want to

the silent stupor
of endless brutality marches up
along the sidereal alleyway
of the burning phantasmal collapse
of continuous reality management,
the spinning digital pylons plaited
through the ricocheting satellite sky,
as the rats rush past

in a world where nobody gets what they want
except some people get fucking loads
of what they don’t want
because they don’t want anyone else to have it.
I would walk across the marshes at dusk stomping
through the intractable interiority of still being.

Yesterday it was thirteen degrees celsius,
in fucking January,
and yet I was still too cold,
revived myself with two hours at the Russian banya,
calmed by the fact that no one was talking politics,
in English at least.

January, a climactic slump, the deep freeze of a blue spirit
crushed in the antechamber
of this small island’s pitiless cruelty.
I think of the white English taxi driver at the spa,
sat in his pants with his belly out, engrossed in a video
on a large screen of a man
playing Mozart on a piano to an elephant;
I think about how the elephant swayed
and we are supposed to think that this means it
enjoys the music but how would we know otherwise;
this morning, I fell into a pit of snakes, again;
I started counting all the utensils in the kitchen,
laid them all out in a long line, end to end,
starting with the knives, then the spoons, then the forks,
then moved on to the larger utensils,
the line started to snake around the kitchen,
down the corridor, past the bathroom,
to the front of the house,
and back again,
a domestic arabesque.

January? I left the house a few times,
in search of more utensils,
and then stayed at home.
Sometimes I checked my emails,
every now and then I would apply for a job,
every day I woke up and fell into the spike trap,
every day I awoke and tripped into the tar pit,
every day I arose and was arrested by the medieval police,
thrown from my bedroom into a dark basement,
from which I would clamber out every day and continue
on my merry seditious way;
I started to split the utensils in half, length-ways,
so that the line would reach further.
Eventually, I got a job.
From time to time I answered my calls,
then stopped answering my calls,
and then started again
(apart from unknown numbers because I am not ready to die).

How did you survive January?
I chalked off the days on the wall
in the dark recesses of my medieval cell,
the days of January, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,
13th, 14th, 15th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 34th, 56th, 67th, 103rd,
nobody knew it had so many days,
just like nobody knew the tremors of fascism,
the propertied delirium and boredom
of Enfield, Woodford, and Harrow;
the screaming slammed door in your face is
the felt reality of this ideology,
of misery’s endless sacrifice of joy
at the altar of mortgages, smoke alarms,
car loans, can openers, vicious racism,
class antagonism, screeching silence, monogamy,
the sheer fucking dull stupidity of the nuclear family.

In December a hefty blade nearly sliced one of Tom’s fingers
clean off from his hand;
he was just trying to put a leaflet through a door in Canterbury
when his movements triggered an anti-burglary device;
everyone was white and miserable, full of resentment
but I don’t think they should pay for healthcare.
The man trimming his hedge with a yellow convertible
in the driveway was unsurprisingly rude. Fuck Canterbury.
In Kensington people were either really rich or really poor,
with barely much in between,
apart from walls and security devices,
and all of them maddened by the fact
of being where they were.

I knocked on the door of a man on my list
in a post-war brutalist housing estate,
he was not the man named on the sheet,
still I asked him if he was going to vote,
he was a middle aged North African man
wearing an FC Barcelona shirt,
the television was blaring loudly in the background,
he said he loved Jeremy Corbyn but he could not vote,
I noticed that he was crying. When I left him,
I stood in the stairwell and cried.

How did you survive January?
I stopped reading the newspaper,
threw my laptop off the end of a pier,
gaffer-taped all the glass on the windows of the flat
in the hope that it’d stop them rattling in the wind,
spent several hours in ‘downward dog’,
started talking to the birds at the bottom of the garden,
started knocking on the doors of all the houses on the street,
said hello my name is Ed did you know that…
a few slammed doors in my face,
I would try to say hello my name is Ed did you know…
a few more slammed doors in my face…
I would try to say to the doors
on my street of my neighbour’s face
hello my name is Ed did you know that
Boris Johnson is a cunt and Sean Bonney is dead.
The phone kept on ringing
for the unknown numbers,
I would sprint to the front door
and ask the nearest stranger in the street to answer,
they’d say yes we’re sorry it’s true
Boris Johnson is a cunt and Sean Bonney is dead;
I collected every drop of rain
for the whole month
in a cup on my windowsill,
decanting the water in the cup
into a larger trough just below.

It’s over now and perhaps we can commend ourselves for that,
if you are reading this then you aren’t dead,
it was cold,
and yet it was not cold enough.
I don’t know what to do next.

How did you survive January?
I wore your love bites under my t-shirt like a secret charm,
each toothmark a bruised letter of an unknown alphabet,
memory pressed into flesh.

I got mad,
I howled at the moon
like a sick dog.
I thought about my friends,
called them up and
we sat on the phone in silence.


About the Author:

Ed Luker is a poet and writer based in London. He runs the poetry events platform and radio show Rivet. His work has recently appeared in Spam Magazine, Erotoplasty, Poetry Magazine, 3:AM, and others. His first full-length book poems, Heavy Waters, was released on The87Press in 2019. His newest collection Other Life was just published on Broken Sleep Books.

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