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Everyone’s story ends in terror

Marina Tsvetaeva for one moment repeatedly after another 

Refusing the imperative to inform on themselves 

You know that you are impossibly free

When you’ve been buried all that you have left is the library 

And your children’s old bones

Handing you whatever it is that you want me to do

You can hear the sound of poppers and rappers 

And you can wrap your legs around beautiful

Eggs you saying something profound about something on Venus 

It snows metal and rains sulphuric acid Babe

We are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our books 

Due to genetic defects

Reading this Latin primer 

As a book of instructions

You must repeat

I will have done things when

You want to use I

Love instead of he or she loves you use am

O instead of am at

Because everything is hidden in the ending

It says that a woman gives

Money to a girl the girl hides the money with a rod 

A farmer is ploughing the land and kicks the girl’s money

He gazes at the money and dances 

O land I love money

The girl beats the farmer and the farmer attempts flight

Why is he avoiding the girl 

Because the girl is beating the farmer with a rod 

Why is she beating the farmer with a rod

Because he praises the money and attempts flight

In Latin you only need the separate word I

When you wish to be very emphatic

Imagine a countryside far away from anywhere 

With no fridge with no lights

This is the land out of which 

I must write

When atoms are travelling down through empty space

And when atoms are travelling down through empty space 

By their own weight at quite indeterminate times and places 

There is the possibility that they will be

Shot by racists and lost

If not for this swerve everything would fall down 

Like raindrops through the abyss of space

Going to live in the possibilities offered by the giving of a meditation 

Teaching or poetic reading after all

You were the first avant-garde poet in the history of the world to be kettled 

And you can prove it in verse

If anyone supposes that the heavier atoms on a straight course 

Through empty space exist in the epic and could outstrip the lighter ones 

And fall on them from above

Thus causing impacts that might give rise to generative motions 

Stand-up routines in nightclubs revolution-through-humor 

As practiced in Yugoslavia or dissolution of ego

They are wrong

You are under a bed and the bombs are no longer falling 

And you are under a bed because you know that the 

Times when they stop is always and only a lull

If you close your eyes you can feel the atoms swerving 

But not to avoid the colour of your skin

And you can ask yourself if all movement is connected

One day you are making love on a lawn and then the next

Swerving from your own course at no set time or place

Distracted by flyovers and freeways heading west

There is a cloud in Minecraft the way that you built it 

And you occasionally go there to relax

Your t-shirt says that you believe in unconditional love at poetry readings 

And your shirt is covered with flowers but you wore that one out

It was good to be alive before the empire grew tired 

And it was good to have known love before the invention of disco or internet

You really thought that women and men would be equal before the end of 1977 

But you did not reckon on men

There is a picture of a skinny white girl on the side of a building 

In every city and in every city there is a rich or poor white girl 

Spitting on somebody else 

And there will always be somebody else praying 

To somebody else 

And their heads will be touching and all the gods and the cars and their stuff

And these atoms not visible and the injustices and the possibility that they will be

Shot by racists

They are choosing the paint for the walls of their bedroom 

And they are thinking and kissing

You see them wherever you go but you do not really see them

When you close your eyes under the bed 

During a break in the bombing

You can hear them breathing and you can hear them coming

You know they will never stop coming

For you there is a list 

Tim Atkins has been a member of the summer faculty at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, and a member of Carla Harryman's Poets' Theatre in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including Atkins Collected Petrarch (a Times Literary Supplement and book of the year), Deep Osaka (a photobook), Koto Y Yo (all from Crater Press), On Fathers < On Daughtyrs (Boiler House Press), 25 Sonnets (The Figures), Petrarch (Book Thug), and Horace (O Books). He is also the author of a play: The World’s Furious Song Flows Through My Skirt (Stoma Press), and a novel The Bath-Tub (forthcoming from Boiler House Press). He has read and performed his work in the Houses of Parliament (for Pussy Riot), in concert at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and all over North America and Europe. His work has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Catalan, French, and Lithuanian. Mother—a collaborative film-poem made with Graeme Maguire was a finalist at the Cyclop International Videopoetry Festival and at the Rabbit Heart Film festival in 2014. His poems have appeared in many anthologies, including The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem (2018) The Reality Street Book of the Sonnet, and Faber’s The Thunder Mutters (edited by Alice Oswald). The founder and editor of the long-running international online poetry journal, onedit, Tim teaches Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. His current work is the long poem NOTHING CONCLUSIVE HAS YET TAKEN PLACE IN THE WORLD THE ULTIMATE WORD OF THE WORLD AND ABOUT THE WORLD HAS NOT YET BEEN SPOKEN THE WORLD IS OPEN AND FREE EVERYTHING IS STILL IN THE FUTURE AND WILL ALWAYS BE and sections are appearing in poetry journals in the USA, the UK, and Canada. A collaboration with his daughter, Yuki Lily Matsubayashi Atkins, A Girl Is A Machine Made Of Birds is just out from Canary Woof Press.

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