Chris Gylee


Don’t write a poem
Doesn’t care                                
It’s pitch out
Dark room stretching
                                                          Old fir
Touching you up
And it feels good

                                                         Old birch
                                                     A whole forest
That’s how hot
Clamour your lungs
Submit to

                                                           The sea
She’s a master
Like the way
She smacks your

Throws you down
Miami vice grip

Doesn’t app
Out, all hours
Gets sticky when it wants
That’s a real man*
Not hiding
No finger-smear glass
It’s in

                                                         The thicket
Of it
Deep down
                   What are you?

’s laughing at me
Now all of them
We clamber on


Getting stone-ready
World drunk

           Are you going to poem
           With your knees
           Ass in the air?

Clearing space in the velvet near

                      What of it?!
                      What of it?!

Wet feet
Deep green

                                                    The Heavens
Already bored by my tinny racket
                 Great things
They say, throwing a crumb
                                                     The Heavens
          Don't call on us unless it's for that
          Nothing less
          Else we'll
                                                    Electric storm
Little fuck


That wild writes me back

   Get here


           Not messing, impatient, got no time for your shit, and the wasting that’s gonna happen as you dick around over there in the city, in the clubs, drinking your life away in that pack of idiot fools

Contemplating what to respond, but —

           It’s not a date, don’t have a time set aside just for you, not thinking in hours or minutes, haven’t got a schedule,
it’s deep time over here, which is gonna scare you, like the no lights, like the dark dark, like the stars that are piercing
through all the way from back back and burrowing into your now soul. Not interested in excuses, don’t write me some
inane thing you have to do, tell me about lists, obligations, rent, exposure etc etc to mask your naked fear, it’s already
evident, can see you there fleshy and cool, beacon of anxiety, you’re a sad thing illuminating the headland, making the
whole lake glow in your reflected delay, shame, awful procrastination


Not knowing what to type, just those         . . .          flashing away
Auto prompts suggesting —

       Sounds great! / No thanks! / Excellent plan!

           Throw that crap in the ditch, glowing block’s not gonna save you, gonna trash your days, hanging on, waiting
waiting for the little screen, someone to write you and invite you to a better life —

                 But you wrote me!
Now I’m pissed, my thumbs texting fast

                All in your head, dumbass, these words are the leaves, shaking as you pass, the crackle of the grass, take your
shoes off, go on, go on, then you can see, same same in the cold bead of ice on the tip of the blade, in the wet mulch, in the
soft slide to the water, in the descent. Your soles will tell you. All the same message. The lure.

                 Get here


I try it. Trees talking to me:

    when you were a child sometimes you’d get mad, hot mad, the type to take over, and you’d run
    run, one time someone crossed you or cussed you and you saw the right from wrong fast and
    that hot mad run took over, focus laser eye, tunnel vision, basketball in palms, target weapon all
    the way around and through until that someone was cowered up against a doorway so you
    could release the hard round weight at their small head, and your fingers let go, of course they
    did, wanted to, fate trajectories, wasn’t a plan, was about a fast getting even, getting revenge,
    getting justice, even though the door behind their head opened just at the right wrong time, and
    and all the things that follow with adults and punishments and no release for the hot hot just a
    collapse into shame or waste or the glare of things left out of balance, scales tipped against you,
    that was it, that was one time —

    when you were a child an adult said to you that you’d have to calm down or you’d be in trouble
    right away, this was a certainty, looked at you, told you in no uncertain terms, your wild was
    going to land you in hot mess fast, the people at the next place wouldn’t stand for it, this was
    round the back, by the big bins where they threw all the food waste, this adult who worked in
    the kitchen, fed you, was sick of you, arms crossed, head shaking, or trying to be kind, who
    knows, who knows —

    when you were a child you rolled and rolled down the snake of muddy green like a swiss cake
    rolling itself up in buttery dirt, sticks, beetles, wrapping around the outside of you, hundreds
    and thousands of mess on your skin, and the damp wet of the soil soaking in to your t-shirt,
    shorts, like cream, like jam, that’s almost gone that one, that’s almost no body memory left,
    that’s one mixed up now with what the other’s tell you from the outside, can’t be sure —

    when you were a child you dug and dug in the corner, with a short stub, hard wood, deepening
    the shallow, the groove, the small pit, after every quick lunch, racing out there with the others to
    maximise the time to get it down far enough to slip out under the fence, off the square of
    green, into the forest laying in wait on the other side, hungry for you, and whilst digging one
    day, a boy who was digging with you, but not really a friend, because he was wilder, was
    uncontrollable, had something about him that said stay away, ate a snail, put it all in his mouth
    and swallowed it, don’t know if he crunched it, or slipped it down in one, but it went in, went
    down, we were certain of that, weren’t we? yes yes, we were —

Goes on like this

This just the first path, wending it’s way in, not far from the last house, yellow, where the dogs bark
loud, and the growl of the lawnmower still echoes up the way

They don’t stop, the trees
The things they say

Chris Gylee (he/him, born Stockport, UK, 1983) is a writer, performance-maker, and scenographer living between Outokumpu, Finland and Berlin, where he works in the independent performance scene. Since 2012, Chris has made performance, film, and publications together with Aslan as Queer performance collective ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS. As a solo artist, Chris wrote Dedications (2018), a constellation of eight poetic narrations for eight readers, and, in 2021, a series of voice-over narrations for the art-film Caretakers, directed by Jo Zahn. In summer 2022, he wrote FORTY, his first collection of poems that imagine the dreamlives of forty Queer elders living between 1983 and 2022. A short poem series, Multiverse Listening (x 7), was published in the liner notes for the EP Homecoming — Greatest Hits! (2022). The poems for his new pamphlet Old Growth were written during the winter of 2023, in residency at Mustarinda, Hyrynsalmi, Finland.

Images by Genietta Varsi and sara blosseville. Many thanks to Taiteen edistämiskeskus (Taike) for supporting our feral series publication.