BUT IS IT POETRY? // lethal bloom

a lunger on a hospital sheet
embraces the last spring
bursts into blossom with scarlet poppies
with every coughing fit

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TONY: Hm. I wonder…

TATI: Good luck with such a tedious task. I’m going to the sex shop before it closes. Do you need anything?

TONY: Yes, I do. While you’re there, would you purchase me an answer that will scrub away the question mark that lingers above your poem ‘lethal bloom’?

TATI: I appreciate your sense of humour, Tony. Will you die from curiosity during the next hour?

TONY: I’m not a cat, so… no.

TATI: Then I’ll be back soon. You’ll have a chance to prepare some genuinely interesting questions. Not like the last time.

TONY: How long must a poem be to be considered a legitimate poem?

TATI: You men are too preoccupied with sizes. How long must a penis be to be considered a legitimate penis?

TONY: Says the woman who’s going to a sex shop.

TATI: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s shortest poem is one letter long. It’s by Aram Saroyan, and comprises a four-legged version of the letter ‘m’.

TONY: Damn. They’ll accept anything these days, won’t they?

TATI: Yes. You’re unbelievably quick-witted today. What happened?

TONY: What can I say? I’ve had my cornflakes. Anyway, back to your poem…

TATI: Back to my poem.

TONY: Yes. Were you worried that it might be considered a little on the short side?

TATI: No!

TONY: Okay then. I must say I do admire how you’ve managed to pack so much meaning into so few lines of poetry. That takes real skill.

TATI: Thank you. Again, do you need anything from the sex shop? There’s a big clearance sale on. Buy two, get one free. You can have the free one.

TONY: As long as it’s not a dildo then I don’t mind. You know, we haven’t even discussed the poem’s themes yet. I’m beginning to get the feeling you don’t want to talk about it.

TATI: What? You said you’re not a cat, and I can’t wait forever! And by the way, I will choose whatever I want for you, so beggars can’t be choosers!

TONY: This won’t take too long. I promise. All I want to know is what your poem’s about.

TATI: Life. Death. Spring.

TONY: Wow. You really unveiled the mystery there.

TATI: Tony, I’m late. I need to buy stockings and an eye patch!

TONY: I can’t imagine you in stockings. But you with an eye patch… now that would be way cool!

TATI: So, I may go after all?

TONY: Sigh. Fine. Go. Far be it from me to delay you on your all important quest!

Tati rushes out the door, slamming it behind her. She rushes back in mere moments later.

TONY: Did you forget something?

TATI: Yes, you idiot! I forgot to check my watch! The sex shop is closed already, so there is no point me going now!

TONY: Hey, that only happened because you wasted time not answering a simple question!

TATI: Sigh. Ask your questions. Anyway, there’s no fun at a hospital without stockings and an eye patch.

TONY: At a hosp—OH! I get it! You wanna indulge in a little Tarantino cosplay, yes?

TATI: No cosplays, silly Tony! Just some volunteering in the tuberculosis department.

TONY: Erm. Okay. It’s probably best if you don’t tell me about your perverted extracurricular activities.

TATI: Germane to the matter, I believe you had dozens of questions about my poem.

TONY: Oh, no no no! I’m done with that. I have no more questions. Besides, I’m tired. I think I’ll just rest here for a bit.

Tati finally seems to be lost for words. Tony plonks himself down on the sofa, his arms folded behind his head. Tati shrugs to herself, lights a cigarette, and plonks herself beside him.

TONY: Those will kill you, you know.

TATI: I know.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

BUT IS IT ART? // Moon Me

 

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TATI: Tony, if you were an art gallery guide, what would you tell the visitors about this picture?

TONY: You mean, other than it was drawn by a rank amateur? Damn. I don’t know. Do I have to comment at all? How’s about I say it’s a silly little scribble that has no real meaning? Would that be good enough?

Tati takes on a nerdy expression and a dull academic tone.

TATI: Nope, I mean something like: ‘This picture presents a crescent man with a pretty athletic pair of legs and a sexy butt. Its arms look weak, and despite it being an Olympic athlete from ancient Greece it has a lot of trouble because of its heavy head. It can’t run and it falls over every time. This fact frustrates the crescent man, and makes it yell from helplessness and despair because it didn’t win Dolichos in 720 BC.’ A professional description, dude.

Tony goggles at the picture with a slack jaw.

TONY: Are we seeing the same thing?

TATI: ‘The artist’s intention is to show the tragedy of the character, its physical and spiritual torments.’

TONY: Oh, okay. Sounds good. Let’s roll with all that stuff you said.

TATI: And it should be a discobolus, not a runner!

Tony is starting to warm to this now.

TONY: That sounds feasible. Someone give the moon man a discus!

Tati waggles her finger before Tony’s nose.

TATI: I suppose it has a discus already.

TONY: Or maybe it is the discus?

TATI: Exactly. It could try to grab itself by the nape and throw itself as far as it can. But, alas, its hands, as I mentioned before, are too weak.

TONY: Yeah, that seems a bit strenuous for the poor geezer.

TATI: It hasn’t got a chance in hell.

Tony sniffles. He looks at the crescent man with deep pity. He had no idea that the character had been leading such a dramatic life up until this point.

Tati smiles and pats his shoulder.

TATI: See, Tony? It isn’t so hard. You take a turn now. What would you tell the visitors about this picture?

TONY: Erm, let’s see: ‘Drawing of a middle aged moon man whose parents would have liked him to have made something of himself but he only ended up disappointing them with his poor life choices. He is screaming in frustration at having been outshone by the surrounding stars and planetary bodies. Now both of his parents are dead, and his hopes of redeeming himself in their eyes are dead too. The drawing has rough pencil linework that has not been cleaned up for the final version, and the background is of a nebulous, unspecified setting because the artist couldn’t be arsed to render it in any detail. The moon man himself hasn’t even been carefully posed, therefore it looks like he’s puking up one of his legs. God, the artist is a hack. Tear this drawing off the gallery wall and burn it immediately. It’s a silly little scribble that has no real meaning.’

TATI: WOW, Tony! That’s a horse of another colour!

TONY: No, a horse has four legs.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

BUT IS IT POETRY? // the last mission (fel-de-se)

bird pierced horizon
somewhere between trees and clouds
spilling rainy nails

a man in a hood
hopes to join them tomorrow
stuffing a nail bomb

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TONY: So, Tati, are you advocating terrorism now?

TATI: Huh?

TONY: A man in a hood stuffing a nail bomb. That’s pretty potent imagery right there, my friend.

TATI: And where’s the logic, my friend? Is everything I see something I advocate and enjoy? Is this the case for you?

TONY: Well, no, but I didn’t write a poem about it. It seems like something that was on your mind at least…

TATI: But you write about masturbating and depression. I don’t think you’re fan of such activities.

TONY: I’m a fan of one of them, but yeah, I take your point. So, what was your intention when you wrote this poem then?

TATI: A fan? Do you like depressive shit?

TONY: You’re dodging the question. No fair!

TATI: And everyone pretends that they don’t get you’re a fist fucker.

TONY: Ahem. I think we were talking about you and terrorism, not my sexual proclivities!

TATI: Next question, Jerry.

TONY: My name’s not Jerry!

TATI: Gosh, Oprah, you’re as dull as a holey galosh.

TONY: Oh, thank you so very much. That’s a lovely goddam thing to say! Jesus.

TATI: A galosh in glasses.

TONY: Fine. I’m a galosh in fucking glasses. This interview is over!

TATI: Really? Okay, Oprah. Then till next time, take care of yourselves and each other!

TONY: Jerry Springer signs off with that. Not Oprah! And there’s only one of me here!

TATI: Aw, boo hoo hoo! Go to Oprah!

TONY: What the hell?! Tati, are you stuck between TV channels?

TATI: Shall I punch you goodbye?

TONY: What’s gotten into you lately? You’ve been acting like a… well, a terrorist!

TATI: Aw, Tony, don’t you see I’m trying to raise our readership? Your dull interviewing technique would send even my grandma to sleep in two seconds flat!

TONY: Oh, so you’re proposing to thump each other over the head with our chairs, is that right? That’s your grand solution?!

TATI: And what is your proposition?

TONY: I don’t know. None of this has gone the way I planned. I think I might just go and take a nap.

TATI: Typical Tony!

TONY: What? What have I done now?

TATI: Just go. Meanwhile, I will think of the next ‘But is it Art?’ questions.

TONY: Don’t expect me to be a cooperative interviewee then. Feh!

Dear readers, don’t touch that dial… and stay tuned for more!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

BUT IS IT ART? // Man’s Best Pal(indrome)

 

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TONY: There’s a time when I wouldn’t have dared to draw something like this.

TATI: Uh huh. You usually only dare to draw dildos and boobs.

TONY: Yes, now I can add shit to the list.

TATI: Wow. Now you can be considered a mature artist.

TONY: What does that even mean anyway? How mature is it to draw a dick and balls instead of covering them up with a pair of underpants? No, I just drew these things because I wanted to. Nothing more, nothing less.

TATI: Definitely, the name of Tony Single shall now be featured alongside those of Odd Nerdrum, Pieter Bruegel…

TONY: Who?

TATI: Artists. Who drew shit.

TONY: Oh, what they drew was shit? Or they literally drew with shit? And it was shit? Or brilliant.

TATI: They drew shit. Literally.

TONY: Oh, shit. Really?

TATI: Shrilly.

TONY: Well, aren’t you just in a silly mood today!

TATI: And you’re in a shitty mood.

TONY: Well, I’m trying to have a serious conversation about god being a palindrome of dog—god being a dog’s leavings, if you will. Perhaps god’s not the great almighty being we make him out to be. Perhaps we ought to hold dogs in higher esteem.

TATI: What a weird concept. Was it a car or a cat I saw?

TONY: Huh?!

TATI: Perhaps cars are not the great almighty beings we make them out to be. Perhaps we ought to hold cats in higher esteem.

TONY: But… but… Cats. Cars. They’re not palindromes! You’re completely ruining my whole point!

TATI: But… but… Your ‘shit’ doesn’t spell ‘Tony’ backwards!

TONY: Are you calling me shit?

TATI: No way! I’m honestly trying to follow your shitty logic.

TONY: I’m wondering how many times we can get away with saying the word ‘shit’ in this discussion…

TATI: I suppose we’re going to get beans anyway, but not because of some doo doo balls on your picture, Tony.

TONY: I literally have no idea what you just said.

TATI: I suppose our readers will tell you. I just know I don’t want to get beans.

TONY: What the shit does your ‘get beans’ mean? I’m so confused!

TATI: Wait and see.

TONY: Erm… Okay? How about we just move on from shits and beans and… well, talk about the ‘god’ part of my illustration?

(Tati begins to walk away.)

TONY: Tati? Hey! Wait! TATI?!

(She pays absolutely no attention to him.)

TONY: Well… shit.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

BUT IS IT POETRY? // a Pissed off Muse

Do you think
that your Muse is dead?
Balderdash!
She is tired.
She is just flat on her ass.
Yes! Dash it all, yes!

She couldn’t bear
your endless snivel,
hysterics,
binge drinking
You, pathetic Creator!
She dumped you, dumbass!

Two talented lines
aren’t worth two wasted years… yes.
Muses can fuck up.

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TONY: Tati, have you ever been pissed off?

Tati doesn’t answer. She keeps looking to the door.

TONY: Tati?

Still no answer.

TONY: TATI!

TATI: Huh? Yes, of course. Every time you ask a silly question.

TONY: Hey! All of my questions are individual quests for truth! Don’t be dissin’ my questions, man!

TATI: I’m not a man.

TONY: Anyway, there’s this really cool poem you wrote once. It’s called ‘a Pissed off Muse’. Do you remember it?

Tati looks at the wall clock, then says with a petulant gesture…

TATI: Yes, I do. I’m not such a leaky head. Not like someone I could mention in this room…

TONY: Hey! I only forget the stuff that’s not worth remembering!

TATI: Uh hum… Indeed, why should you stuff your head with nonsense like the due date for our tax returns, or when to pay for municipal services?

TONY: Look, I don’t mind living without electricity sometimes, and since when have we ever earned enough to pay taxes?

TATI: Well, this time I’m going to agree with you.

Tati keeps flitting her eyes between the clock and the door, then glances out the window.

TATI: So, do you really think it’s a cool poem?

TONY: I do! I think it’s bitchin’!

TATI: Uh hum… Well… Thank you, I suppose. May I ask why you recalled it just out of the blue?

TONY: Well, it strikes me that no one ever asks the muse if they even want to be a muse in the first place, and your poem seems to reflect this. It presents the muse’s viewpoint.

This seems to get Tati’s attention. She looks at Tony for a moment.

TATI: Yes. By the way, Tony, did you know that ‘muse’ can mean not only a source of inspiration but a creator or poet also?

TONY: Oh. Really? That… That doesn’t sound quite right…

TATI: Why?

TONY: Because muses are usually only presented as some kind of insipidly romanticised ‘source of inspiration’ (to use your words). But the whole thing’s not so romantic really, is it?

Tati’s eyes have gone back to the door.

TATI: Sigh. Never mind. Do you have a muse?

TONY: Nope. Why reduce someone to nothing more than a source of inspiration for my creative endeavours? They don’t exist purely to orbit and nurture my every brain fart, do they?

TATI: Not everyone is such an egoist, Tony! ‘Nurture my every fart.’ Many creators take their muses as higher beings, not mere servants of their creative labours.

TONY: I’m not so convinced! I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of muses are mere extensions of their creators’ egos, and therefore not considered to be the higher beings you sugge—Hey! Are you listening at all? I said ‘my every brain fart’, not ‘my every fart’!

TATI: No. I don’t sleep.

TONY: Huh?!

Tati shakes her head, as if to clear it, then continues to give the door, clock and window her full attention.

TONY: See?! You’re not listening!

TATI: Not at all. Pardon? Oh, of course, you have my undivided attention.

TONY: Are you sure? I’ve been talking to your nape for the last bleedin’ hour!

Tati sighs.

TATI: I only wonder if we can talk about something else…

TONY: Okay. Fine. What would you prefer?

There’s a knocking at the door.

TATI: Wait! Do you hear that?

TONY: You bet your sweet bippy. I wonder who it can be?

Tati starts to fuss around a bit. She goes to a cupboard and pulls out some slippers, then runs to the kitchen to brew some tea. When this is done, she brings out a huge pile of fresh newspapers and tosses them on the table.

TATI: Okay, could you get the door, Tony? I think that may be for me.

Tony answers the door. A huge, glistening penguin wearing a monocle and biting down on a pipe enters the house, brushing past him like he’s not there. It waddles towards the kitchen, its pipe leaving a trail of soap bubbles.

TONY: Oh, of course. Now I understand who serves whom, my Dear Genius.

TATI: Hush! Don’t piss off the Muse!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018