Thursday 8 September 2022

Jo Bratten, "Climacteric"


Jo Bratten is a poet and teacher living in London. Her poetry has been widely published in journals such as Ambit, The Butcher’s Dog, Finished Creatures, The North, Poetry Birmingham, The Rialto and Under the Radar, amongst others. Her debut pamphlet Climacteric (2022) is published by Fly on the Wall Press. Her website is here

About Climacteric

‘Climacteric’ – a noun, meaning ‘a critical period or moment in history,’ or ‘the period of life when fertility is in decline’; or an adjective, meaning ‘critical, decisive, epochal.’ This pamphlet interrogates how we can love ourselves at the climacteric of our lives and of the planet.

Climacteric bubbles with anger and guilt at the failures of both spirit and body and expresses a coming to terms with loss: for the natural passing of loved ones to the unnatural passing of our planet’s ecosystems. These poems also offer solace, for we are not alone – ‘in the fractured dark we’re all doomscrolling / before dawn, lit up like Caravaggios.’ They find joy in the simplest forms of love.

You can find more information about Climacteric on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two poems from the collection. 

From Climacteric, by Jo Bratten

New Year’s Day

Morning of the new year and I’m scrubbing 
the bath, tugging snakes of hair 
from the stinking drain, wondering 
how so much of me got down here. 

In the cold estuary I’m circling 
black terns under a groggy sky, 
tangling with pintails, shored on a tide 
of mud with the plover and the lapwing, 
stuck in the gullet of the godwit 
and the rare avocet. 
                                I’m far out at sea, 
brining with molluscs, latching on to 
resolute cephalopods like flame, 
waking somewhere in the belly of a whale, 
retched up on your shore, a warning.

Because we have forgotten how to sleep

we are whispering our reasons to strangers; 
we are googling our exes and our symptoms: 
there is a pain in a place, our legs all 

electrical filaments, twanging; our hair 
is coming out in clumps; we are sweeping 
it from corners, from beneath the bed, 

gathering it into our sleepless nest, 
tumours hatching on our ribs like eggs;
our mouths are bubbling with hope 

and peril; we are thinking up good titles 
for poems; in the between spaces we are
having vivid dreams; mine are subaquatic:

I am dreaming of Sponge Bob in a porno 
with an octopus; they are touching 
each other like rain; her tentacles slip-

pering through the yellow spaces of his flesh, 
she is shimmering like caviar, all lips: 
you are thinking there is a tenderness 

in how her suckers clasp his little shorts; 
you know it is not real but after all 
these curdled nights you think it looks like love.

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