Nell Osborne: Five Poems

god tier

I am a monster in the mouth in the head in the pockets

I am a minnow in the head in the mouth and in the pockets

Your feedback is greatly appreciated at this point when I am greatly disorientated by urban life’s teachings

I want to be more dynamic more efficient I am right now goosing for the water pageant but I refuse to accept that I am still redeemable at the fair

I am no longer a customer of yours not since you treated me so badly I left your company I moved out of your storage factory unit that prohibits perishable items

I want to love everyone and maybe I could too after I finish the hardest puzzle in the world the one that is technically impossible

I am schlepping about our father’s body see like a carafe of red wine I am invisible save for at the Laser Quasar

Love me like a flower touch me like a flower I silent scream like a flower worship me as each flower deserves himself to be cut and paraded

Let me become the remarkable shrub that I was destined to become in the vegetable patch of this endless fallow year

Like any bone carcass stretched in skin I look best in soft light and undressing



Chef’s kiss

Train conductor thinking on limply pulsing scalloped edges

For the rest of the day, ticket fines slide. The bevel on him

Big, beautiful hands filled to the brim with gemütlich plasma

There are things to love about anybody

moving at 200 mph that is

Greener the trees balk at joggers’ ankles bonely flashing blue

The bug’s-eye view. The roiling nation state of red clay soil

I married a worm under duress

underground, blindfolded, smiling

like a dumb gherkin bride lmao

Sometimes to catch myself, breathing etc.

What to do with all that humidity

How to package the blood

Train conductor adjusts his face and it’s new

Witness to the luminosity ‘pon the halcyon


I giggle and giggle and giggle and giggle, until I hear the birds start up

And the day’s flat grey face is damp against the glass /

My email inbox is filled with so many

possible suitors who know my full name



Enough, glamour

I am writing to ask that you kindly desist

your violent tenure as the ocean of my mind

it being much worse here than

imagined historical loving

I wrote a book since we never, starlight, met

400-thread counts ago: overthinking every phallic

objet d’art, with you

in the basement be

men just like you

Have a soft one, a cold one

on me, my dear sirs

merely corpsing along towards

the curled forefinger of mauve light

pressed flat into navy for a spinal

lifetime of palms down in the spreadsheets

Most beloved when you’re enduring

wreathed in luminous neon Viking dry lunge

red petal-breath, blue petal-breath, red petal-breath

freshly belimbed ow ow

starchily overbody-ing the carpets

Kind regards, now

turn off the lamp when you leave

the metaphorical room

managerially, gentleman



I inspected every asshole 

I inspected every asshole on earth

no small feat → no big surprises either

I made some invaluable

professional contacts

my Red Riding Snood

gelatine bitches assemble → bend over → let’s

get this paperwork done & then

relax → un-trousered, out-of-office

Not much going on for me, spiritually, right now

Still → slips from & sits atop lips

cheekbones → untreated quantum desire

is a tick box disease → [cartoon voice]:

you’ll need to fly to America for that

(if you can find the coins in time)

I, like many women of my ilk,

highly enervated, mute, garrulous, dehydrated

dream of nothing more complicated than:

find the extra-terrestrial & get paid for it.



A la Carte


























Nell Osbourne says:

I was reading Bernadette Mayer’s Ethics of Sleep: a poetic investigation that attempts to map out the entangled relations between ideas of sleep, dream and production. I admire how brazenly unsystematic it is — of course, needs to be. ‘The dream does do / things like the poem,’ writes Mayer. Things. I am always getting butchered in my dreams. I have a therapist who tells me there is no morality in the dreamscape. Once you understand that, you can go back armed: become the most sadistic butcher there is (in your own dreams). I’m not sure if the same logic holds for the poem, but I imagine it could.

In an interview at the end of Mayer’s book, Dave Brinks suggests that her poems are written against the idea of progression and Mayer replies, ‘I like to go backwards’. Me, I was writing these abstruse little poems, simply trying to have a “good time”. ‘To be small and to stay small’ — the motto of Robert Walser’s schoolboy hero in his 1909 novel, Jakob von Gunten. The poem can trace out things, through a series of entirely unrelated propositions, without coming to any conclusion, or having a sense of having spoken, or having been awake at the time.

Not being a person much in control of my “brain”, I spend the whole time asking: Please sir, which year is it? I like imagining desire at its least legible, least articulate. Hostile inscrutability is my favourite refusalist power move. We have these alien longings. By which I mean, the desire to be found, seen, chosen, taken away. To have one’s damaged attachment to the world — one’s palimpsest sense of self-worth, one’s patently untenable feelings of superiority — redeemed by extra-terrestrial peoples. For some of the people I went to school with, alien longing is now intimately woven with an antivax gut-health-core ressentiment, projected onto the advent of a purified, paedophile-ring-FREE Boho Chic utopia. But alienality is equally a feature of poetic method — one that I, too, feel closely aligned with. Jack Spicer believed that his poems were alien transmissions, he their attentive receptacle. He writes, ‘For example / the poem does not know / Who you refers to’. I like the strange re-calibration demanded by that capitalised ‘W’. We who are so used to capitalising our names. When I was younger, I believed my first name was spelled: N-A-M-E. I was getting scolded by teachers for being difficult. Afterwards, I would try to print it more clearly, more emphatically, upon the dotted line of my worksheet: N-A-M-E. Again, punishment. Spicer writes: ‘Sheer hell / Is where your apartness is your apartness’. For him, poems echo back and forth with one another in some kind of Outer-space, gaining resonance, albeit still carrying a trace of the poet — the particular topography of their accreted scar tissue. Writing a poem is a dance with a Martian (cry emoji). Not many things make me feel sentimental, but that does. My coming useful irrelevance. Plus, we miss dancing so fucking much.


Nell Osborne’s recent work has appeared in places such as Manchester Review of Books and Bath Magg. Nell co-runs No Matter, an experimental reading and commission series, based in Manchester. She co-edits the zine series Academics Against Networking. Her first pamphlet, The Canine Redeemer has Entered the Bungalow, is forthcoming with Just Not



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+44(0)1873 810456 | LYN@GLASFRYNPROJECT.ORG.UK