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Issue 10


Jei Degenhardt



There are days I will always
   remember by the shape of things
around the impact

Here, the rain. How figures keyhole into it
and I was holding you

         grip like waterweight slipping over storm drain
hollowing into crowds, too,
steps before buildings
  sat where there has always been someone else

this walling, this division of blue,
   and I can always see behind
me in such glass
   so that forever there is nearby somewhere
  low brick and tangled chainlink,
  tripfoot wire, that midnight
I saw you through

     what place pushes starlight back
what happens here
glowing still

there aren’t cities in the dark
cities run red or run bright, night another name
  for a separate kind of breathing

  you and I drenched in light the night one thin stream
carries your breath to me and I hear waves of static through the phone
I cannot feel between us and afterwards I am staring at my spine, wondering
      through glass what past emerges

we have 1.3 seconds of history in the light that comes from the moon
225623 miles arriving in a slam on concrete
no accounting for that mass,

a blink across void
shouldn’t windows shatter then, in the nearness of headlights,
streetlamps in the neverdark, proximities push back
the stars, this light erase
reflection into bluish flakes
the thin frame of a bus stop


Green of tarmac
cracked where roots stretch below

Hovering green of leaves
in lamplight over parking lot

Gutter green of autumn

Borrowed green of shoe’s sole
carried with you

Caged green
of fenced sapling

Pierce green
of eyes in crowd

Green of summer
which must have been last night

Greyed green of
tree in rainwater

Watching green
of branches tapping window

Could it have been summer last night

Smell of green decaying
behind the shops

Tenuous green of Hilton
in greyblue sky

Warning green
of oil slick puddle

Black green of park grass in night
or shade on a sunny day

Ailing green of sky-edge
at evening

Memory green of what was
missed while it was there

Brief green
of magpie iridescence

Green of there still being
something living


I could tell of places where words dropped off

tongues, dissolved out to mist under traffic

lights. Passing a junction with friends I learned

how air can change from red to amber, I

was sixteen, am again under sodium-

vapour lamps on the edge of roads, warm and
cold where black and orange slick my face, these

final colours of the city, the last

I have to tell, and the things they retain.

The purr of tires, uncertainty of steps,
voices knocking into each other, not
looking when I cross and almost catching
myself somewhere else — will it be a
city still, the next time I remember

and if my breath stops, slows, will I see
each road takes me farther into the same
place, the same place, I look up
and the words are still rising


Jei Degenhardt


Commissioned by Read Manchester for 6 Minute Reads delivered by the Writing Squad and Manchester Literature Festival in 2017.

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