The Poetry Project

Sensory Overload

EV Starkey

You may not be surprised that I cried at my poetry class in front of everyone. It seems a repetitive theme for me to unburden myself in public. I was sharing my grief about the loss of the original Bramley apple taste, the loss of the Mother Tree, the loss of a multi generational memory of mother in the kitchen whipping up apple snow. I explained my father must close his fruit farm due to Brexit rules. He only speaks of his difficulty preserving the apple trees, but I know he is haunted by his Bramley song, that he wrote one glorious summer and somehow had it sung in the cathedral, back when we believed in family trees and roots, and heritage.

It’s so raw out here! So rAw! The night. The wind roughing my hair. The journey back on the crowded F train with a few crazies that made me switch carriages so I could read the poetry packet. So raw all these emotions. How is it that I’m living this personal, family and also national tragedy, at the very moment I’m in the Poetry Project’s Circle Room, contemplating the permanent loss of the “Breast of Aphrodite,” a divine peach beloved in Greece? It’s too coincidental, too poetic. I cannot bear it.

My heart is breaking for my father, the last Bramley farmer, as Brexit rules burn British heritage on the national bonfire, oh the irony! And this apple, my link back home, to my family tree, no longer my memory, more a collective sigh, like the greek peach, is reduced to bitter squabbles about who owns this heritage, my sister, who took over from my father, or the wedding business, whose brides clamor for photographs under the apple blossom but prefer to drink so-called English lemonade which is actually water flavored with sugar, sweeteners and acids to imitate lemon. The loss is too great. The aftertaste too bitter.

Poem on the Subway

The carriage crackles and snores
Three men hardened
On blue benches
Me homebound
The old woman bent over
Her cart bulging
Her life’s remnants
The umbrella, keeps slipping
Her bark, I won’t bite!
Sends the only witness out out
And her smile, our smile
Stamp of sisterhood
My eyes, I got you!
So she sleeps
Me opposite
Guarding against my ignorance
These men bruising on hard benches.

That Night

I was in a performance, titled, Pillow Talk. I dreamt of twin beds set in a trendy art gallery with glaring spotlights, or, as the drama morphed, I was performing in the Circle Room at St Mark’s Church, all dusty and disused, the single shattered light bulb dusty too, as if the city itself had been abandoned. Imagine the scene. Me in one bed. A stranger in the other twin. The stranger lies there nervous despite having booked a timed slot. I lie on the bed fully dressed keen to connect in the hope we can be intimate in only fifteen minutes. My proven antidote to loneliness. I feel as if by sheer will we will. We talk. I hum with EQ questions. I am soft and light. I try to create the conditions to relax: ASMR, hair brushing, braiding, whispering under the duvet, me on my stomach engaging in side eye talk. I feel the beds creeping together. Then the stranger reveals she is actually my sister. And I realize this is the point. This is the whole sadly forgotten point. Intimacy leads to family just as family can lead to loneliness. And the broken bulb is actually a beacon, if you dare look, its light is dancing like lace on the concrete floor.


I can meet your mournful eyes and melt between your bed slats.

I can touch your fingertips behind the screen and feel your empty evenings.

I can scramble up your wooded hill listening for the fox on his night prowl and wait for the moon to surface.

I can wait for you.

Equally, I can retreat under my ice sheet and let the bubbles pop into the night air without a care where you are hiding.

I can hunker inside my cashmere nest and forget the rest of our conversation.

I can wash off all smokey trace of desire to undress your scabs and seriousness.

I can return without you.

Clearly, it depends on whose terroir, mine or yours, is the rockiest. If you are fern and I am wild rose then perhaps the question has already been answered.

Prompt 1 Bio

Fuck yes, I’m out of reach,
So caught up in proving,
No no, ok fine, I understand,
I dance naked too.
Burn the edges raw.

Work from INVISIBLE HEAVENS // ‘Memory as Projection of the Future’ — Dis/Course with Tyler Morse