Callie Gardner


fifth letter / moonletter


obnoxious advocates of raising cash
admonishments of waxing employment
a quick built moon
– Linda Kemp, Lease Prise Redux
What use can any of us have for two moons? The miracle of order has run out and I am left in an unmiraculous city where anything may happen. […] Search the smoke for the fire’s base. Read from the coals neither success nor despair. This edge of boredom is as bright. I pass it, into the dark rim. There is the deceiving warmth that asks nothing. There are objects lost in double-light. 
– Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren



take for example please the fine, hard hairs
that grow from the subunar luniform skull
follow them to their spiralling roots, their fissures
rivering the brain, so that worms are all
we have left. my last two warlike cells

but warm, as well, a fonder pondlife, daemonic
in the sizzling pan. every time i move
my head, as i’ve done thirteen times
in the last ten years, i get an electric shock
for my troubles. but is that better or worse

than cracking from a handful of sortileginious
and dusty vertebrae? i mean but
that’s the job, to slice your posture
and your sight to bible-leaves and boil
them in the try-pots of business success

this is my cat, mine own telemiaowchus,
charged to protect this rented isle while we’re awander.
it little profits that these idle rooms should lie
unfurnished, mere airfilled newbuild
chambered cairn against the rise of prices

it may be that the third rail will zap us dead
it may be we shall touch the happy
island platform configuration, and find the brave
cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, whom we knew;
we go out roaming with a hangry heart.



today there are many young and motiveless people
wandering the countryside with their makeshift weapons.
i have not yet come to an understanding
about this; for instance, how can i make
safe myself and the people i love?

of course i understand the difficulties
as they are faced by this generation
and we all need to pay rent somehow unless
of course we don’t need to pay rent. still,
though, i want a skills workshop so i
may have weapons of my own. but

i never want to know how to use them.
can’t just say in a poem ‘let’s make bombs
and place them under the palace of westminster’
and wouldn’t even if you could. maybe one day,
against everything, we’ll serry our sole gape.



i saw three lives compared in artistic visions
all quite correct i cannot doubt; an upright
outofdate victorian, proving his oldstyle hat
against thunder and sunshine. submit your invoice
in a timely manner, in a friendly reminder, admit your glow.

returning from a long dictopolitan absence,
there’s nothing we will learn by sitting on the bus
especially not over the wheel, polymorphously
discomfited, polytechnically perverse. how can i
make this more legible to the lovers i peep?

 in dimmest blacklit shadow, ze mistook my hand
curled loosely round the laundrysmelling air
for one vast roach within the sheets with us
the lines of flesh between my phalanges
becoming our bedfellow’s ghostly feelers.

i was once almost owed to the long, trembling fingers
of a life i knew i could not lead that seemed
about to curl permanently over my throat and wrists.
and now the dark woody excitable warm smell
attends us as we attend each other, planetesimally.



so where’s the moon in all this? well,
following the moving window of the car.
i think my earliest memories of anxiety, sadness,
came from falling asleep in the back seat
travelling home, or trying to not.

the dark excitable night seemed full of whatever
was coming out of it. i think ghosts come
from the future, not the past, their vast
night-coloured eyes brimming with lunulae
and lit by shadowy churlish grief. 

and i believe, up there, there is a crater flooding
and making sliding mud around the edges.
the luniforming process has begun, and the trees
the forest crossing its face like a rash
troubles my, and soothes me to, sleep.



sterile hopes are hobbled in the mincing frame.
the dotted-out diagrammed boxes whichunto
feet fall awaitingly, slippery with moonlight.
they turn over one another like gigantic minnows
snapping at knowing some weeks and days hence,

swimming anent a mawkish bream
with blue-arsed flies in train; concepts
aberrate themselves into other organs
of the body; the footnotes and full of views,
their lips pale and, something rather less bloody,

bricks of this community turn (me) into sound.
maybe i’m naive maybe it’s my generation maybe
i’ve not read enough to speak about this authoritatively
maybe i should just shut up. another eye
opens and speaks in the gallerism of small movements.

petals of brass clang in the kitchen.
a clean, cold, lonely morning in a borrowed house
after a night under down. the book you are reading
in such circumstances becomes more real,
heightened by the terrible provisionality of the world.

there is only grief, and a crackling nerve
like shaved steel, rivening the conditions of life.
it formulates itself like an immune response
not knowing anything, balancing everything,
fifty to one against its grey graceful disk.



Callie Gardner is a poet and editor from Glasgow. Their book-length poem naturally it is not. was published by The 87 Press, and they edit Zarf Magazine and its associated press Zarf Editions, whose recent titles include Sylvie Siren and Other Poems by Lana Hughes and The T(y)ranny by Alison Rumfitt.

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