Jack Underwood



The coffee in the café tastes like it first
evaporated off the surface of a motorway
a hot July ten years ago. When you drink it

you can feel it drinking you back.
The caffeinated ambience in the café has
the passive-aggressivity of a cyclist’s bell.

The café WIFI is free, but WIFI stands for
Whatever I Find Irritating. I sip at my
irritation in the café. I lather it up

between my hands in the little sink
in the café toilet, having surmised in my
cubicle that: either this is the worst café

in the World, or this is the worst World
in which there is a café, or else I am
the worst person in the café in the World.


                     were more popular in our culture 
I’d be attracted to people who had guns the same way 
I am attracted to people I suspect don’t like me. 

I would walk up to them shyly with my hands up
and ask for a hold. I’d say Hollowpoint or Wadcutter
as if they were the nicknames of our mutual friends.

It takes a certain person to shoot a certain person,
I would suppose, With Great Power comes 
Great Guns. Can I look down the end?

I’d watch them slide out the clip and droop the gun
to me like a kneeling horse. I’d look in its hole,
blow my cheeks. Thank you, I’d say. Thank you.


I had a dream about a car filling up with darkness.
You weren’t there and neither was I. There was
no one inside. It was fine. And when I woke
I thought for the first time about the happiness
of the dead: how they never need fetching
a glass of water, how fear for them is just
a wrong number calling, how we needn’t
lead them through the cordon in red
blankets, how fixed and safe they are.
Jack Underwood was born in Norwich in 1984. He graduated from Norwich School of Art and Design in 2005 before completing an MA and PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and Faber published his debut pamphlet in October 2009. He also teaches at the Poetry School, co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and reviews for Poetry Review and Poetry London. His debut collection Happiness will be published by Faber in 2015.

Read more by Jack Underwood:

Poem in B O D Y
Interview in B O D Y
Four poems at The New Statesman

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