2018 Poets in Residence Program
Poet Charlotte Wetton, this year’s winner of the “Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets” in London, participated in CHS’s Michael Marks Poets in Residence Program for two weeks this past summer. During her stay in Greece, she visited Ancient Olympia, Athens, and Nafplio, where she participated in a number of activities prepared by the CHS.
In Ancient Olympia, as part of the closing ceremony for this year’s IOA-CHS joint symposium, Wetton read the four following poems to a rapt audience:
At work, she forgets
to take herself out the bag,
sits all day in cellophane
and when she assembles her tongue
to explain, she plays back
an answer-phone message.
The postman discovers the body,
she’d gummed a stamp to her forehead
and tried to post herself home.
Seven am, she’s plaiting her guts in the oval mirror,
lacing her organs into whalebone ribs, everything
folded inwards, over and inwards, cinched tight.
As she leaves the house the old thoughts come,
a litany of knots in the rope of her spine.
When you see her in the mornings, do not offer
to unwind those sinews, ratchet back the twisted arteries
in case the force required to heave and haul her straight
bursts her carapace and all the careful layers rupture,
split and shatter on the station platform.
The Archivist’s House
They broke down the door to the archivist’s house,
two policemen and a social worker, and found
his stacks. Lists ran over window-ledges,
skirting boards, between the lines of other lists:
Wanted and Unwanted Gifts, Money Spent and Regretted.
Ductal spooling and spinning of threaded thought,
he’d sweated ink, breath fogged with it
and the notes fattening, continually multiplying:
Useful Objects Found in the Street, New Foods Tasted
meticulously catalogued, references numbered
lists flicker away into
Women Not Spoken To
Unsuccessful Job interviews
each option classified
the next option and the next
self spread thin between choices
a lacewing smeared in a folio
Film Releases Missed
Unfinished Conversations pigeon holes spill
into white, rustling pages
lists tangle together
thickets of possibles choke up the passage-ways
box files split like fruit skins
spongy and bulging
into wadded heaps
pressed into mulch
only rat-runs between essential rooms now
thumbs and heels grease-soften the paper
moulding the lists
to a muffled cocoon
the kernel of the man who husked himself
the fusty smell of his paper skins
the slow stifling heat
The Night Watch
I will the singing birds from the sky,
hushing them into the duvet, smother
chattering thoughts in feather thick air.
Sticky tongue, dry throat.
The second hand beats on my skull
pebble-eyed on the hot pillow,
a seasick man-o-war
on a pitching battle ground.
As furniture re-forms in the blue
I give up on the sand-trickled hours,
stop counting breaths, pulse,
but still each neon-green heartbeat
is drawing in the dawn,
the clunking of milkman and postman.
All of the poems are included in I Refuse to Turn into a Hatstand (Calder Valley Poetry, 2017).