Everything Must Go – Guy Elston

Everything Must Go

For Alisa

A nervy, thin man selected
from my library of ancient vellum
parchments, and the scarabs
were packed up in panniers
by a sober-ish lady on a fixie.
A trio of calamitous academics
took the furniture, at length,
while a muscled man with a frog
nabbed the second-hand blender.
The mythical sword Excalibur
went to a good home (a pair
of evil twins with a clear secret)
but a predictably damp sandwich
collected the poetry, trying
to ask me personal questions.
The rest – gloves, gift cards, lacquered
parrots bought in Barcelona –
I stuffed in a box marked ‘priceless’,
placed on the kerbside. Finally
the floating began, and floating, I swam
over the city and its millions
of possessions-obsessed insects,
swarming over condos and hatchbacks
while I counted clouds, unattached,
uncompromised, with nothing
but time; time I spent thinking
what an idiot I’d been not to take
you, and everything you, with me.

Guy Elston is a British teacher and writer currently living in Toronto. His poetry has been included by The MothInk Sweat & Tears, The Honest UlstermanAnthropocene and other journals. He is (sort of) on Twitter – @guy_elston

I love you, Mum (& hip-hop) – Guy Elston

I love you, Mum (& hip-hop)

As the tune started,
and ‘Fuck all you hoes’ rang out
in the English seafront apartment,
my mother turned to me on her 66th birthday
and remarked slowly, solemnly,
I haven’t listened to Biggie in a long time.

Not since I made mix CDs for the drive to school,
to my first teenage parties, or to the shop
for her to buy me beers with an air of muted pride.
She never liked the songs
I expected her to. Aphex Twin, then UB40; she confounded,

daughter of a miner
who made a living curating
portraits, framing them for an audience. I noticed early
that Mum had a spectrum of accents, registers;
Didcot is simply ghastly she’d declare, We live on the outer
brink of civilisation; but later that posh prat

doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.
After school my task was to feed the pigeons; doves,
she called them. An entire society of them
lived on the garage (guhraj?), settled
by the promise of a twice daily feed.
I stepped like an astronaut bearing birdseed

into a vortex of uncertain feathers,
cursing her, loving her. We only know our parents
by accident, then by sustenance.
I thought there would be other songs,
that there must have been other ones; but
I can’t remember any. ‘Juicy’ is ours now, absurdly.


Guy Elston lives on the Wirral and is completing an MA. His poetry has recently been included by Indigo Dreams Publishing, Burning House Press, Anthropocene and others.