'a lie that I have FIXED like a butterfly on a hat’

(Tristan Tsara)




Prepare your confession.

Write it out.

Confiteor: I confess.

Now tear your words into flakes:

confetti. Lying

like any habit

takes thirty days’ abstinence

to break. Create new

neural connections.

When you feel embroidery

or forgery

rising on your tongue

knit, shell peas



Truth-making as millinery:

pins, embroidery

confection. Give me

words close

to what I would choose myself

if I could afford it.

Not some fine bone ornament –

the coy-headed shepherdess

of conversation –

which is fragile, unnecessary

and which I shall have to dust.


Thoughts (venial)

words (bitten

back, or spat

like a nightmare’s teeth)

what I have done

and failed to do:

omission courts commission.

No new messages:

his silence

on any occasion involving

salt, water, prayer

cuts out my tongue.

Cut it out.

Open his love letters.

Take a pair of scissors.

Snip each word.

Place yourself gently

in a bag and shake:

your portrait emerges

rare, ordinary, interchangeable:

lips, adore, golden, dark, I.


(I still consider myself

very likeable.)


(After Tristan Tsara’s ‘dada manifesto on feeble love and bitter love’)

'Confetti by Dada' was commissioned as part of a poetry workshop series led by poet Felicity Plunkett at St Georges Girls High School. With the students and teacher John Turner - and inspired by the Cabinet of Lost and Found learning resource - Felicity explored the concept of the glory box or hope chest. Together they reflected on the hopes and dreams of women in the past and on their own aspirations for the future. The project was completed with a hand-bound anthology of poems, written by the students in a variety of forms.