Two Poems

‘Goulash, Prague’ by Lauren Gallagher. IG: @boykeats

Joshua Calladine-Jones


vltava polaroid #03

A room          a vacancy:     

the change in the tupperware, the ashtray,

the cubicle                (unlatched)

and her hobbling towards us.


What happened was we got punched:

a right-hook to the jaw, a handful

of flung cake this was nothing

to celebrate.


She cursed us, spat         onlookers

must’ve filmed it all: screen-lights

glaring           and (what choice?) we left.

We stopped               gawped at,


then perched on a bench       far

from the metro-mouth, where

we photographed this sight-same water

after the year                  had elapsed.


This river is a limit. In centuries

it hasn’t changed direction. Impossible

to imagine                 the certainty

of that ceaseless course.


Outside the cloister                        two sisters,

aloof to haggard strangers pass

an ATM                      glamourless

with its pixelated face.


And hate? No           now black points

emerge on the image, immune to needling

light. We thumb these bruises

as currents move                 within.


prague, spring

A man, thin-on-top and youngish in a bloodied

T-shirt and a woman behind

traverse the patch of fresh cement and spring

            is here again.


She has no pants, only stilettos and a most-

            revealing harness, as she teeters,     

keeping pace with the promenading male.

            The day’s clear


as light, or as wind. They seem to be in costume.

            She wears a surgeon’s mask,

but he doesn’t. All things contain their opposite.

            She is all


in black, a good head or so taller than her lover

            (lover? stranger? ally? friend?)

and they stamp and tremble on without a trace

            of shame,


(a lack of clothes isn’t pride or shame, it only is)

            naked, or almost naked,

in the light of March, unseen by anyone

            but us:


our half-a-quarter-form at three o’clock, leering

            from the office glass,

and a long steady wondering at the growing stain,

            at the blood.


Joshua Calladine-Jones is a poet and the literary-critic in-residence at Festival spisovatelů Praha. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as The Stinging Fly, 3:AM, The Anarchist Library, Minor Literature[s], The Hong Kong Review of Books, and Literární.cz. His pamphlet Constructions [Konstrukce] was published by tall-lighthouse in 2021, and Reconstructions [Rekonstrukce], will be published in 2022.

IG: @urneburiall

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