content note: allusion to murder
E (know) I’m so jealous of the families who
can just switch off as the tale-telling starts.
Those who serve veg in family heirlooms
with steel serving spoons, and leave them to steam
until they sweat off, linger, and go cold.
I love their unjust contracts: chat to me
and I’ll dry. Luxury disagreements
every week regarding communal
mealtimes. The decadence of a table
with a takeaway menu folded in
a tight wedge jammed beneath a leg so that
glasses don’t rattle as we take the days
from each other and carve them all up, cack-
handed, then protest: I don’t want us to
argue! Let’s make up! I want us all to
get along! Like, fine. I’m here. And I know
that I’d hate myself for wishing for it.
I’ve filibustered my way through pomp and
now I have to attend to it. I’m a
fraud with an active listener.
O (alright) Always pooled in mounds of mash, that smell I
know from childhood. With our forks we scraped peaks
into palaces, but we had to tear
them down—the moat would always burst its banks
and drown the cowards, no relief from slits
for arrows, no narrative or justice
for unfounded anger. All deleted.
E (sweep) The clock won’t stop spinning. Clocks blow my mind.
I’ve been angry almost all of the time
at everyone telling me I’m angry.
I go to reflect, but not before you
lollop onto the tracks, jangling a bunch
of keys like you know what they’re for — like this
place is yours — unannounced like a fatal
twinge, or landlord. And then you chastise me
for frowning. For so many years I’ve been
treading dark water, in charge of a web
of leads. You rest up — I wake in cold sweats.
O (well) I climbed from the pit of my own malaise
and the world became my loft bed and desk.
E (erm) The world’s your room for wrappers and packets.
You still have the scar from bolting too quick.
It’s settled like solder into its groove;
a mark of your childhood, charm pink and smooth.
E (testing) Ours was the home classmates said smelled funny.
Spiders smushed on the walls, smudges of tapped
ash everywhere, slack beanbags on the
floor like ablated corpses. We knew to
wash beans and lentils, but never the start
to finish of any useful process.
Scraps toward something worthwhile. Fools’ errands.
These days I miss that uselessness. I miss
my life as a cog. Everyone acts like
I’m boiling over, but they never leave.
Instead they walk around me like this house,
old-boned, might reveal them. The very first
time I recall seeing my own image
reflected back at me, I was playing
by a creek on a morning without wind.
I pushed one eye until it reached its give,
went lazy, and saw a double vision
of myself. We both spoke in the same way,
but before I’d unplugged my bony knees
from the suck of the muddy bank, they both
left me there. Reeds buffered invisibly,
humming to an indifferent current.
I know what my reflections have been up
to since that day, and salute vicious shoots
of pain for the sake of the twin process,
the endgame. I returned as a nuisance
years later, but the water had clouded
into grey, too filthy to see a thing.
The last time I checked, there was only a
gulch. So, dear house, I have abandoned my
selves, and with them their capabilities.
The boards contract and crack. Now the two of
us are back in a tableau of my youth,
I sense you seething, playing tricks on me.
O (struggle) That’s better. Do you think I’m a coward?
E (flat) I think we’re just predisposed to drama.
O (snag) Predetermined (that’s my education).
Look elsewhere. Let’s forfeit the theatre
of an extravagant meal, this second
helping of torture. Why is it so us
to make such an adjournment in fear of
our stresses? Why should we manufacture
an occasion? Do we like pain or what?
I say get it done. I know you think I’m
brutish, or giddy for blood, but this knife
is just a totem. It’s my figurine.
E (more fool) Having eaten—though I know we haven’t,
yet—you’d bolt, then complain that your escape
was scuppered by a stitch. I know the thought
attracts you. But without me you would be
limping as they closed in: SWAT teams, choppers,
the lot. If food goes cold I couldn’t care
less. It’s the being seen that matters. I
demand, at least, that we are seen by both.
O (closed) Perversely, I could eat.
is a poet from Lincoln, currently studying for a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia. His research concerns the first-person plural, antipopulist poetics, and the late works of John Ashbery.
Two of Us: Electra & Orestes is a loose retelling of Euripides's Electra, a duologue poem between siblings Electra and Orestes, as they prepare to murder their mother and stepfather under the guise of an extravagant banquet. The action takes place in the family kitchen, the parents asleep upstairs.
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Issue 1 © SPOONFEED Magazine
SPOONFEED x New Writing © Caitlin Allen
Issue 2 © Louise Crosby