01

Valentina Tereshkova

(A Soviet cosmonaut and the first female to be flown into space in 1963) 

My only pet was a canary named after you; her cage was struck by lightning.

A bird above its wings, as vengeful as a prisoner parachuting to freedom;

Your call-sign code-name was Chaika {Seagull} embroidered on your space suit

A lunar crater and a minor planet take your birth title under their cracked mantles.

 

A bird inside its wings, as vengeful as a female pilot parachuting to fame;

After three days in space, weightless and nauseous, taking photos of the horizon

A lunar crater and a minor planet take your birth title into their cracked signature smiles

From launchpad to unoccupied orbit, smug in your own utter solitude, empty of song.

 

Seventy hours in space, weightless and nauseous, taking photos of the horizon

Higher than the entire world, comets and asteroids spreading a fever of galactic lanterns

That rocketed into orbit smug in their utter solitude, empty of medals and monuments

Erected from smooth capsule, bruised, famished, but gifted with a belly of wired butterflies.

 

Higher than the entire world, comets and asteroids spread a fever of galactic lanterns

You toss unable to sleep through the cravings to speed past those rogue clouds again

Counting your ejection from the smooth capsule on repeat like fence-hopping sheep

Downstairs, a bar full of vodka, Soviet documents, snaps of a cold wedding in Moscow.

 

You toss, unable to keep hold of the cravings to speed past those rogue clouds again

When your double-barrelled daughter dreams under her cot mobile of the solar system,

Vodka, Soviet documents, snaps of a cold wedding in Moscow her inheritance

The roof of the house decorated with a seagull weathervane keeping watch for storms.

 

When your double-barrelled daughter dreams under her cot mobile of the solar system

A lunar crater and a minor planet take her birth title under their cracked mantles.

In the end, you wanted to journey to Mars, a sacrifice-suicide for one last view of space

That’s why my only pet was a canary named after you and her cage was struck by lightning.

 

 

 
 
02

An Inch From Rapture

 

On a Sunday in Spring when it’s snowing pear blossom in the Hudson Valley

I am home with the wanderer’s blues, so I abandon the silver screen

for the grey streets, step into the cinema-rain of Stockbridge

reaching its treasury of charity shops and hungry volunteers.  

I greet the women behind counters who stare too long at things,

cause queues as they complement selection and tell you about their gardens.

 

 

 

These morning walks to school load with the same perpetual trigger of shutters opening

a spontaneous spill of polystyrene bags and staleness,

the grocer next door wheeling out last week's fruit,

cars share petroleum kisses, sickly mint gum-stuck under the bench

the sky now a surgeon's slide-show of unhealthy lungs.

 

 

The fraudulent smiles of midnight findings unhinged

as symmetrical as sliced apple pips delivered into doorways

fibreglass saints listening with their faces of seasides and seances hearing

'how can I still love when the big flowing river doesn't have two equal streams':

patience/tolerance/forgiveness- see the potential rather than the obstacle-

these are souvenirs from places you have never been, so fill your pockets.

 

 

I am bored with the old; the myth, its' archaic nonchalance and cold hands

instead, I want modernity in numbers, the intrigue of variety

a get-away, break-away to stow away this curse of rising damp.

So why do I keep searching and buying when I could so easily

wrap it all behind the uniform bondage of boxes and move on

to start again in an empty room stunned by its own inebriation of silence

and surrounded by an unfamiliar landscape that pulses.

 

 

I stand in nature, strip for both light and lichen, expose myself to the elements

tailor my mind to fit the vanishing point of the horizon

to leave all lovers trapped under the moon not viable for escape

we are all alone riding the fugal narrative of self on this twin-flame journey,

- a train discontinued from the tracks leaving scars on the skin

still not sated by its previous programme of experience.

 

 

I too need something else to believe in, somewhere else to grow,

because I am not satisfied with my bland acceptances -

I want to look at a city for the first time from the highest pinnacle:

taste a tropical fruit straight from its branch, or sample a cuisine I can't pronounce

I just want to keep my eyes open when I walk.

 

 

I want the future exposed by a chemical bounty that is yet to be invented,

a moment when we all smiled despite grief sieved through tv screens

and a crystal ball

I want more than resurrection, something Promethean but more bravado

a Neo-revolutionists' applauded wet-dream.

 

 

I want something less living-room arrangement,  

something gaudier and more exotic than tank police and typhoons

to stammer my senses and hold my heart hostage -

I want something that I have not quite captured

what most of us want, to circulate and migrate like blood

and to steer closer than an inch away from rapture.

 

 

 

 

 
03

Sea-Rattle

The sound of the sea reaches our tenement

                                                      tonight

tides curve their tails around towering

                                                      brickwork

chasing pipework in circles, staining

                                                      windows

with rims of salt, seeping in to rot the

                                                      floorboards.

The mice make boats out of bone china

                                                      teacups

stream towards sewers licking their

                                                      whiskers

the light in our room radiates, challenges

                                                      moonshine

signals ghost ships, throbs like an endomorphic

                                                      heartbeat.

I hear the hammering of planks in the

                                                      stairwell

the guttural pull of the seas sweeping

                                                      swell

two  by two in miniature diptychs the neighbours

                                                      escape

abandoning hope and their biodegradable

                                                      materials

for the bounty of blue, starlight and the promised

                                                      land.

I bolt my doors as the paint starts to

                                                      peel

the vulgarities of emulsion steer me away from

                                                      corners

a flock of gulls crash their beaks against

                                                      glass

and the sound keeps replaying like a foreboding

                                                      drum-roll

the sea rattles then roars, furniture soon

                                                      floats

to the ceiling, like a spell water funnels up the

                                                     chimney

light sizzles then burns out, moons flag on the

                                                     horizon

I start to wonder how long before everything is

                                                     engulfed

the fumes are quick, eyes adjust to the

                                                     sting

lungs inflate and learn to speak, I hold my

                                                     breath

listen to their oscillations and swim towards the

                                                     sky.

Contact

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janetteayachi@gmail,com

Readings/Festivals:

janetteayachi@gmail.com

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