★ Five Poems by Jordan Hayward



‘as I historically
belong to the enormous bliss of American death’

— frank o’hara

and it seeps into these walls and chairs
even transatlantic bleeding into me
into us if i can think on your behalf
none of me is untapped by monster trucks
gravedigger neil diamond batch prepping
balmy pancakes for the whole family
from an old leather wallet cracked
by a cigarette cliché adopting atlanta
by camplight indoors you made me
want to try xanax though sensibility
opted for zero percent budweiser
and called it 1999 no street is grandiose
enough my girders and hamburgers
are lost floating elsewhere though
i smell it present and intoxicating sweet
comedy will live forever renewed in
free refills on a tar-black humility dollar
forty-five sunny side sings to me always
and it makes me green with lack of belonging


O i long for your octopus arms
slimy around my octopus body’s
cylindrical beauty, dripping with idealism

O primetime hazy eyeshadow
you meld the pink emboldened clouds
thickened and sucked through straws

the O face is a concept and O mine is a frown
a complex indecision rife with searching
O my face is astride yours and it lingers

twelve nine five nine

unlimited font choice has me enclosed
in a listless box of intake
sitting and watching and waiting
and fuck me there’s a new movie out
i can’t wait to see it

the sugar content in your mouth
is alarmingly low but the taste
still sits afloat like meringue
one hundred percent organic
now with no added flavour

lights are beaming somewhere
and it feels important to be there
commiserating underneath them
mourning the death of involvement with
sixteen likeminded working professionals

they all seemed interesting i guess
one of them had a tattoo
and had read part of a long book
my face was boring into the mirror
so i added neon lights to my jawbone


this sunset is horrible
but the company is
marginally less horrible

there’s a man here
his name is bear
and he likes craft beer

i’d like to craft bear
a raft made of plywood
and sail him elsewhere

shoplifted books on mindfulness

part one isn’t a sonnet

i can never get behind your plans
for halloween — your boyish caramel and
unrelenting sugarlust, cat costume and
cold walk to neighbours who throw skittles
from their window out of fear and necessity —

in ordinary emergency situations it’s safer to
remain inside the home and find solace buried
deep within the cuboid embrace of a
game show synth tone and the knowledge that,
if it ever came down to it, omnipresent
surveillance would be your saviour —
they know who you are and they can’t
be trusted no matter how they phrase their
chocolate lipped, ghoul-faced flirtation

it isn’t 2012 anymore grandad, you
need to learn how to roll with the third wave,
we raise crows from birth now and
teach them to write complex and resounding
love poems, so that the rest of us can tend
to more pressing issues, like the inevitable
skeleton uprising, seeped in carbohydrates
and trapped within an a3 frame

part two might be a sonnet

unbeknownst to the common folk,
i strap on this taut and frail skin suit every day,
my organs strewn like fairy lights decorating
an opaque ghost outfit, and galavant
pretending to be living any kind of life,
one with intermittent checkpoints and
progress reports to fill me in on whether
i’m living up to potential or letting my family down,
and a finish line to aspire to, where we can
look back on the good times and plaintively
eat dry, flavourless, ambiguously textured cake,
until we decide what to do with ourselves —
congratulations on the clown outfit, but
this facade is for life, not just for halloween

Jordan is based in Manchester, and can be found @totoafricaremix. His work has previously appeared in Adjacent Pineapple.