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annie katchinska





Our first time downtown, we were not two weeks off the plane
and thinner, cleaner, too young for this mess he diagnosed
and touched my arm unasked so now let's go
here I am with my expat tricks,
I am nails and hips and collarbones
in neon, in kanji,
with a taste in my hair and gin in my shoes
needing week after week to go where everyone goes.


With garblemouth I try to explain.
With a mouthful of sand I turn to this boy,
with a mouth tuna-swollen, beer-mucked
I try to explain
but we're on the long trek down to the next place
With a chapped small mouth
With a mouth like With a mouth like
With a mouth fish-hooked
Here he says
and we are this gaggle on a street of katakana
and plum-eyed girls, squeaky boys,
girls in pikachu furs who cannot
believe their luck and we float
towards them, such exotic balloons wait
a bathroom,
my purpling mouth,
watch me step out
into a smoke-shack,
bump against bodies that spike
and click and crack till the right song flicks
and you come to me, talk to me, hear me, adore me,
recoil when I mark you with lip blood,


Dragon, you found us on the twentieth floor          and we think we have nothing to do with you         who found us soaked     dragon juices    dragon stomachs            you pull her by her snapped tooth onto the table    and say dance dance    you the syrupy lizard of grammar and error             she saw you in the airport      in the Tokyo hotel coathangers trembling      she is ripped roots       she is not quite     she can't remember how this          make her feel like           how does it go           she can't help it dragon is she blending in okay            has she found the new culture            is it in this tight dripping booth and is she        loving it enough        is she still a good whipplegirl or is that just          you take your time with us    lick the spilt drink from our necks      pluck our accents away    we all talk
like this            like this         there are so many things we want     but not this       you      take            your                       time                                                                             I look up, try to reach for a window


if we wait an hr the subway'll creep back to life
but ASAHI            KIRIN                  NIKKA
                                                                         already look sick,
their lights blink, judder
so hunger
              leads to this plasticky bread,
              pink meat and no wait what even is this
what is this          illiterate and raw-tongued,
in a ketchup-coloured fast food pitstop
there for women to slump
                                           over tables and sleep
till it's done
                                         or rub sauce in their eye,
or simply
sit and cry and text
                                       and you and I are not friends yet,
                                       we just washed up on the shore
    at the same time roughly
                                                                                  now let me
                                                                                  curl up
                                                                                  metallic and cold
my hands lemon-sticky my lips
                                                       greased shut with pork


Got to get on it got to shake jetlag
              What time is it? What time should I be?
Fruitpeel and fridgewhir and neighbourclunk only –
              Just perched on this random bit of the earth

Come to me    come now
I'm chopped up thick    I live like
raw squid                       expectant



Annie Katchinska was born in Moscow and grew up in London. Her Faber New Poets pamphlet was published in 2010 and her poems have been included in various anthologies. She is now back in the UK after two years spent living and working in Sapporo, Japan.