BUT IS IT POETRY? // how to explain life to a live girl

they walk around the room cuddling a dead hare
smearing the floor with stale syrupy gold
they cry out loud that awakening is here
exactly as beuys has foretold

i lie on the floor trying not to sleep
but the damned gold flashes before my eyes
here i balance over the greasy steep
falling through the creaky rickety skies

and i see in my dream how a huge dead hare
cuddles me to its soft warm belly
runs its paws over my messy hair
treats me to marmite and orange jelly

the hare whispers of shoes and sealing wax
of shooting stars over the seashore
that a worldview’s a matter of parallax
…i wake up to the sound of a slammed door

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TONY: You have the most fascinating brain I’ve ever had the privilege to encounter.

TATI: Nice start, Tony. Go on.

TONY: Erm…

TATI: How’s your head, by the way? It wasn’t a concussion, I hope?

TONY: The doctor said you hadn’t hit me that hard after all, and that I should stop being a whimpersome girly-boy.

TATI: Good boy. All you need to do is wise up and don’t repeat that painful experience from our previous discussion. There is a reason we discarded it, after all.

TONY: So now we’re having an entirely new discussion for the purposes of this post. Oh yeah, I totally get it now.

TATI: Let’s go then.

TONY: Erm. Well. I wanted to discuss a particular poem with you.

TATI: What poem?

TONY: It’s called ‘how to explain life to a live girl’.

TATI: I remember this one. Do you hesitate to call it ‘poetry’?

TONY: Oh, no, I definitely think it’s poetry. It’s just that… well, a dead hare?

TATI: Yes, hares die sometimes. Sad, but true.

TONY: Well, sure, but what is the poem about? It seems to be about a dead hare, some strange yellow substance that could be honey or gold paint, and some dude called Beuys.

TATI: Do you know who this is, Tony?

TONY: Is it a ‘Harry Potter’ character?

TATI: Are you serious?!

TONY: No? From ‘Hunger Games’ then.

TATI: I don’t think the poet should have to explain to the reader each and every reference.

TONY: ’50 Shades of Grey’?

TATI: Yuck! If you, the reader, really cared then you could have dived into the poem to understand what the author wanted to say here or there. You could have educated yourself.

TONY: There are too many books in those series. You expect me to read all of them?

TATI: If you don’t understand something, you need to google it or at the very least try to think of your own interpretation. Don’t you have an imagination?

TONY: Maybe It’s a recipe for honey-roasted bunnies. Maybe that’s what you wrote.

TATI: That is one interpretation, I suppose. It isn’t necessary for it to be the same as what the author implied.

TONY: So, I’m wrong?

TATI: Don’t you know anything about the magic of poetry?! You are not meant to make a school book report from it, and you don’t ask the author to explain each and every detail to you!

TONY: Why not?

TATI: If James Joyce had tried to explain ‘Ulysses’ to each and every idiot, would the novel have been listed in the Bokklubben World Library amongst its one hundred best books ever? I bet no. They would have dismissed him as another graphomaniac who wastes valuable paper instead of increasing the GDP of Ireland!

TONY: But nobody understands that book! Are you saying that in order to write greatness that whatever one writes must be completely incomprehensible? I expect you’ll be awarded the Booker Prize any day then!

TATI: Seriously, Tony, I am not going to sit here and explain to you who Beuys is. Nor will I explain about his performance ‘How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare’ and other shit. And you should be saying thank you to me because I am doing you a huge favour! I’m giving you a chance to grow and educate yourself!

TONY: True. Sounds like it was boring and pretentious.

TATI: Cool. Then I propose to go back to what we were doing before you started this discussion. You can nap and play video games, and I will sit here and continue to read this idiotic book.

TONY: ‘Ulysses’?!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

THE ABCs OF A PECULIAR LIFE // Y is for Yellow & Yogini (Yodel in Y Major)

Who cares about aging Disney princesses? Yesterday’s fans might have been ready to tear each other’s throats out for the chance of getting Ariel’s autograph, but today? Well, today they were more likely to laugh at her bloated waistline and old-fashioned seashell bikini. That’s the kind of shit that happens to nice girls who are past their prime. Sigh.

No, Ariel was never envious toward her younger sisters. She truly loved them, and wished them only the best. But… she looked at her reflection in the water and reflexively readjusted the sea flower in her hair. Frankly speaking, she was not half bad, and could still play havoc with lovelorn hearts if she wanted. Well, she wanted very much, but was rarely given the chance. And she was good, but no longer all that popular, and so the wait between casting calls had only become longer and more frequent. Otherwise, Ariel would have eagerly taught all those meridas and tianas a thing or two. (Snigger.)

This thought cheered her up a little bit. Ariel even started to hum ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ to herself. It was her Mother’s favourite song. She’d often drift into blissful slumber whenever her Mother crooned this song. And her Mother would endlessly make these pearly love beads. And twinkling freckles. These love beads and freckles, scattered all around the family grotto, were the fondest memories from Ariel’s childhood. And her Mother’s voice, of course. She would still hear it sometimes, even after so many years had passed. Another sigh.

Still humming her song, Ariel splashed at the water with her tail. Flounder, who was napping in the shallow end, flipped over but didn’t wake up. What a lazy ass! Truth be told, he was a very good friend, but not much of a receptionist. On the other hand, they didn’t get a lot of clients in ‘Athena’ either, so blaming Flounder for sleeping during work hours felt a little redundant.

“Namaste, Swami Yoko!”

A soft female voice distracted Ariel from her musings. She automatically pulled back her shoulders, widening her collarbones and lifting her sternum toward the sky, and lengthening her tailbone toward the rocks.

“Namaste, Mommy Dugong!” she said enthusiastically. “We have launched a brand new class: Alevins Yoga. A lot of fun and at a special price for mammals!”

Ariel gave Flounder’s ribs a furtive jab. Flounder sprang into the air with a wide eyed gasp, and plopped into the water again. He reappeared in moments with a wet leaflet, but Mommy Dugong had already moved on. It looked as though she’d been in a hurry.

Ariel waved, then went back to her hunched state and reached for a cigarette. She’d only just clicked the lighter when a ringing young voice sang right behind her back.

“Namaste, Swami Yoko!”

Ariel dropped her cigarette into the water. She pressed her hands together, hiding the lighter, and bowed with a suitably cosmic smile.

“Namaste, Maiden Stella! We invite you to Morning Mantra Meditations every Saturday at 5. Sunrise, subtle vibes and cut prices for students!”

This time Flounder was ready, and the leaflet almost dry. But Maiden Stella obviously wasn’t ready to get up at such an unearthly hour for some whimsical humming. She mumbled something polite, blurred and zipped off, hugging to herself a trunk with a ukulele.

Ariel took the cigarette from Flounder’s back. How had it gotten stuck there? “Yoga really isn’t all that popular along this stretch of coastline, Flounder. Don’t you find?” She looked rather exhausted, and her real age suddenly became quite apparent.

Flounder nodded sadly. Yes, he was truly an awful receptionist, but at least he was a faithful friend. He cared for Ariel a great deal. It’s why he’d agreed to accept the wearisome role of administrator for her yoga classes. But, really, the time had come for him to man up and act. He could see that he’d need to take the steering wheel and save this silly, semicentennial girl (and himself, of course) from their current, disastrous course. There had to be a Plan B.
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“C’mon, babe, don’t be shy! Show these green-ass pipsqueaks some real rock-n-roll!”

The ‘Yellow Submarine’ nightclub patrons were shaking, shimmering and screaming with delight, like a living entity. They cheered on a flushed, panting, but joyful Mommy Dugong who was stomping the dance floor with Little Dugong and his friends. Flounder was polishing a glass at the counter with an unabashedly happy grin.

After a little while, Maiden Stella walked onto the tiny stage. She had ensnared a huge, awkward guy who seemed to be totally embarrassed. A hush came over the crowd.

“Dear Mommy Dugong, today, in celebration of your big birthday, Kai and me want to sing this song. Hey, who’s going to San Francisco?”

The crowd shouted with delight. There was a standing ovation before the music had even begun to play! And it did. Flounder wisely turned the lights down a notch. The patrons at the ‘Yellow Submarine’ nightclub started to rock gently in time with the music, and most of them in couples.

Ariel was sitting on the porch of the nightclub, smoking. The stars in the sky were exactly like the love beads and twinkling freckles of her childhood. “Happy birthday, Mother,” she said softly, and blinked away a tiny, grateful tear.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017