Spiderwebs hung from the washing line. 
Autumn crept into my bones like small cell carcinoma. 
I consulted with a bottle of red.
It said everything would come up petals and sprig leaves before the spring 
but added mysteriously, that I should avoid flying 
for at least the next seventeen years. 
I blustered through a poem about love gone wrong 
but wondered if the bottle of red knew more than it was telling. 
I visited the washing machine 
who reassured me that life is much like a long-spin cycle 
but advised I avoid archery or wild swimming 
for the next nineteen weeks, or until the dark clouds 
it saw swirling above my head had dissipated.
That’s when the kettle on the worktop whistled me over 
and wheezed into my ear, that life is nothing like a long-spin cycle 
and is instead like steam evaporating over drab fields 
on a winter’s day, and that I should avoid any activity 
that closely resembles living for at least the next eighteen months – 
and that I should probably just spend it in bed. 
That’s when the toaster popped up and said, 
No, no, no, you idiot! Life is nothing like a long-spin cycle 
or steam evaporating over drab fields on a winter’s day. 
Life, he said, is like a warm piece of toast that should be smothered in marmite 
then eaten immediately before it gets cold. 
Leave only the crumbs for the mice and the plate for the dishwasher.
I lay down on the cold kitchen tiles and cupped my hands over my ears
as the small appliances argued amongst themselves. 
You can’t take it with you! Rattled the dishwasher. 
Once you’re gone, you’re gone, said the toaster. 
Which was probably for the best, I thought; 
But wasn’t there more to life than this?


We should swallow the lot
and be done with it, Marsha says,

as I play the sad piano like it’s 1954 
Plinkerty-plink, plinkerty-

plunk, all painted lips and gooey, red eyes.
A fly crawls in and out of our mouths.

Plaster tumbles from the ceiling -
paints our greasy hair.
We lost the plot after season five 
over fishing rights and the free movement of people.

Imagine a map without edges, Marsha says,


I get so anxious now even my toes ache. 
Lately, I’ve been seeing God 


— Mark Vanner currently lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poetry has appeared widely since 2003 in publications including, Neon Literary Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, Punk Noir, Poetry Nottingham, Pearl Magazine, and many more. For more information please visit: www.markvanner.com or find him on Twitter: @VannerMark

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