‘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’)