The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Tome On The Range

Two Poems By: Jen Calleja
Karl Smith , December 15th, 2013 11:47

New writing this week comes - in the form of two poems - from the enviably multi-talented London-based writer, editor, translator and (of course) poet Jen Calleja

Jen Calleja grew up in Brighton and Munich and lives in London. Her short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in TEAM, Langdon Olgar, No.Zine, Playground, fellow poet Alex MacDonald's blog Selected Poems, as well as released on vinyl and tape as part of music projects and played on BBC radio. She was Runner-Up Finalist for Brighton Festival's Peacock Poetry Prize for young poets in 2011.

She has translated poetry and prose for Bloomsbury, PEN International and the Goethe-Institut and written for Modern Poetry in Translation magazine. She is Acting Editor of New Books in German and Editor of her own Anglo-German journal Verfreundungseffekt. She plays in the bands Sauna Youth and Feature.

List of Power Stations

I wake at 5.30 in Watt, California and take a 20 minute shower immediately:
twelve minutes for the shower, eight minutes for 'other activity'.
I hate to sweat in my fresh shirt before I've left home.
I've lied to myself that I can hold on,
complete dressing, wet and comb my hair,
lean over to tie my shoes with extreme difficulty.

Most of my colleagues understand my build-up routine:
Rumination, notation, ejaculation, meditation.
I speak late in the morning, at the lectern, clearly, full of hope.
I have to sit down after a few minutes and they provide me with a chair;
I cross my legs and stare straight forward.

After lunch I take one-on-ones with the student body.
These are done in fifteen minute spurts, leaving the door
open for reassurance that I will be doing nothing rhythmic
save for sharpening my pencil.
It's better in meetings with faculty, who silently
allow me to tick-tock in my underwear.
By the time I'm home I am exhausted, sticky all over.

I wash while my wife sets the table for dinner
to warm her to my presence we sit side by side
shoulders and knees softly rubbing, then straight to bed.
I cup her face, look only at her eyes, nod
and smile, while I quietly pray that I'll fall straight to sleep around her
so she knows how I feel when I'm only warm and not hot.

(Taking A) Walk

Every evening's like taking a hard breath.
I'm choking on eyes, eyes that can't cope
with how dangerously clean I am. Someone will offer me a favour.
I'll want to come out later to the gardens.

Park-side lounges are sitcoms
for my channel-hopping silhouette. From the waist-down
I'm rooted to the shrubbery. I straighten up shakily,
growing in the cut-shot shakes of a wildlife documentary.

I walk through parks at four in the morning
to wear the same noiseless monochrome
and warm greys as the city. Are you counting
the bones in my neck?

A man brought me down by the ankle once,
by a giant metal chess-set. It wasn't really a man,
just someone out of their mind who thinks life, even short grass
is felt at a run, a thick slam to the ground.

'You had a man at home.
What were you doing getting yourself in this state?'
Probably the same as me, the same as you: treading on the grass,
spying for cats, mumbling songs, talking the dark out of it with a look.