Strings 1

‘dreams jangling with lost connections’

March 2024

Four poems (from Melamine)


This is no time for making plans,
for growing cress, or explaining things.
I'm eating sushi with a shoehorn
and calling it performance art.

Mist and all the woodland creatures.
My signature scent is pistachio and codeine.
In the mornings, I just can’t wake up
and have to roll around in the gravel.


Winter rain in dreadful ditches.
A luminous apple guarded by a chaffinch.
We take a herring from the freezer
and neglect to alert the authorities.

The trees are ancient, silver and complex.
Six ghouls in the magic quadrant.
We are anarchists and renounce all hierarchies,
which is why these walnuts are not to scale.


Hailstones, honeydew, charcoal, blackberries.
Pumpkin, robin-egg, cucumber, mustard.
Three snails named Bertie, Carol and Marge.
Two wasps in a jar, just trying to make a living.

Too elliptical, too maddeningly obscure.
Too much coffee turns my right eye blue.
She liked people, pancakes, cats and spaghetti.
She may have been mistaken, but she was my mother.


Owls and bears in the overspill carpark.
In the witching hour, a thimbleful of syrup.
Madame Moreau fends off a lion
with rational argument and a little bit of yogurt.

The yellow leaves and the golden leaves.
Six blue cups in a cupboard full of rocks.
When at last they found the minotaur,
they marked the spot with ice and sprinkles.

TOM JENKS' books include A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions (if p then q), a collection of poetry, short prose and even shorter prose and Pack My Box with Five-Dozen Liquor Jugs (Penteract Press), a pangrammatic novel with Catherine Vidler. His work has appeared in Poetry Review and The Penguin Book of Oulipo. He edits the small press zimzalla, specialising in literary objects, and is also a text artist, producing programmatic visualisations of works of literature.