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Tenement Press is an occasional publisher of esoteric,
accidental, angular, & interdisciplinary literatures.

My head is my only house unless it rains

Don Glen Vliet

Were a wind to arise
I could put up a sail
Were there no sailI’d make one of canvas and sticks

Bertolt Brecht, ‘Motto’
(Bucknow Elegies)

Rehearsal      /     20.  Maria Sledmere



If a dream comes, stately
you are up in the longest day of the year
when the sun is at its northernmost point
as we measure time by heliocentrism, this solstice day
or any day you read this. Last night, we were inside a purple sky
caressing its folds with the pencil
you took from the institution, where everyone
queues for moon cups, chocolate and books. It’s all free.
There are wrappers to tear off
every useful declaration.
I have this look, I have this question.
There’s a variable transparency to the way you might bloom
                 just once or twice, as long as this poem shall live.
Had we run through the meadow so long
to not look back,  take photographs
or even handfuls of flowers the daughters would scorn
ten years from now, on picket lines
having thrown flowers between their bodies
and the police,
    so the dogs would stop, and the horses.
                 I am crushing cetirizine
                          under my tongue
                                    and wishing the trees good sex.
            We have this ask,
to always have the right to go outside
and keep people safe, including the rabbits
and nudibranchs, the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar,
            the Lactobacilli
and the rats of course, having dreamed them beneath you,
of apparent tensions, their long tails …
this future ecology that
            we are inside of
                                                                                                      I write
for this person, many people I have not met
blushed and excessive in blue velvet boots
approaching the rat-king
to ask ‘what takes
actual skill?’ 
The teenagers remarked it was a skill to walk and read
along in the real world, curled
where you meet me. We could be
                                      so useful.
                                                The bathroom smells of sick
                                                this morning
I’ll swear to infinity
there is something they don’t know, feel it.

In just one shimmer it all could change
            at the celebratory rave, the waterfront
                        grammatical state of your health beyond measure
                                    and a vascular lyre which plays us.

If a dream comes, could this be prologue to fire
as in the adrenaline dream where I ran through
            a field with Timothy
and they were so fast
            I remarked on your speed, we got to the school
where we were supposed to put the fire out.
We could not see
            the fire
but smoke was in our lungs
before this
was Sunday’s dream
can I tell you the day before? I was admiring the lily pads
everything movement. My brother with kombucha
and the magical bagel, the people around us
sweet like ghosts. No more penthouse.
I am teased for my eccentricities. 
There’s a hole in your poem.
Go through its portal.

It is summer and the virus is rising.
I want to be rampant as Bernadette Mayer describes
the sometimes dream ‘so wild’ in Midwinter Day
‘As to seem more luxuriant than day’s repose’
but today is midsummer and wilder
because woke naturally at three in the morning
to a poem from Iain
goes ‘You’re feeling lucky punk, trust your deliria’
                                              I’m already seeing things
                                    in the shape of sonnets
                                                a kind of sun pareidolia 
                                                            little song
What season does accord us to volta
and solitude, tucking the windfarm behind my ear,
            you are reading this
with a sneaky red pencil, a tiny picnic
for speech and correction.
                        If a dream comes
we will fill it with everything.
In Alan Warner’s novel Morvern Callar
the word rampant means something like sexy
as you pull on the velvet boilersuit of the poem 
each time to begin
with this caress and paint.
When I put clairvoyance
or the groupie incognito of Spaceship Earth
where bunny life is just about as good as a human animal’s
I draw the blinds of the dream, having seen them
on the opposite mirror, starry-eyed
I thought it was handwriting, the light.
If a dream comes I’ll write the lot of it down
and show you
I won’t break.

            We have to trust it quick
as extinction comes here without warning.
Or we have always known.
Soon it will be too hot, but having known
this place from which ‘it’ happens, lying down
in the middle of a high street in this popular European city
to assume would be wrong.
            I saw the way fire does
everything. I read the myth of the quicken tree.
I lived through heatwave, I was born and gone in thunder.
I had the authorship of various nervous systems.
Our bodies
what are they?
First I saw
            an oversized book of the epoch
before it was written. Dear earth
                                                did I miss you
like post?
                                    Dear earth
                                                at night the stakes
                                                seem higher
                                    Dear earth
                                                I leap over them
                                    Dear earth
                                                I am torn
                                                by how
                                                we could occupy parks
                                                and houses, the offices
                                                of our bosses
                                    Dear earth
                                                will you go the whole
                                                time I am inside you?

If a dream comes, as I look for messages
polishing the walls of a glasshouse, in which is grown
cucumbers, texts and tapestries of lightning,
the phantom ivy
                                                                        of Lichtenberg figures,                                                                                 your kiss.
The seemingly infinite surface. Cruel sweet pearls
that were a protein.

From earth to sea, the earthsea feeling.
If a dream comes, shyly
in the middle of a year
I want you to start reading this in reverse
or even dwell in the long pause of putting it down already
            call it 
                        the new season of ardent meadow
               done in Joan Eardley’s sculptural, gemlike hand      
       the way a painted flower has lattices,
 you are lovely to me
for being here.
That’s all
but is it enough?
There’s still time
for a cup of coffee, to brush our hair
and teeth, fret lemon and campion, wild marjoram.
Are you empty?
Katy says the birds are so loud.
They go like you imagine the sound of diamonds
catching the light in cartoons
up close …………………….
I sent this recording from Crystal Palace maze
where six different people were all on dates
having got to the centre of something.
What do we mean by field?
If a dream comes to begin from the rusted gate
and whoever got here
to eat this selfheal
            the breath of what a day wants from me
                          to gather tendrils of notes
                                        keep writing this poem
                                                    to keep from beginning.
But aren’t you so late
                                                    to be reading?

The procrastination chronicles of another long summer
             or winter
                                                            will find you within them
                                                beginning again.

Today is the birthday of Lana Del Rey 
also known as Elizabeth Grant, or mom
to her elder fans, problematic fave to the young.
In the video for ‘The Greatest’ on the crest of despair
having been inside kitchens
scrubbing the grease pot of masculinity
and out on the oil rigs of a literal thought
            I’ll return to the unknown skin of the dream
which is slick with
where the oil truck leaked at the start of Midwinter Day
having rolled around her lines awhile
we stopped to buy Lilt and Coke, we polished the core
of the San Pedro Bay
           of sucrose and fruits.
                        If a dream comes
I’m still scared of when we say ‘our’ bodies
having forgot who’s speaking in the poem, who built
            this machine, not to mention
the ‘I’ of pop’s delectable, mainstream lyric.
And all their work.
California I have never been
New York I have never known
Rio de Janeiro where it is Monday and partly cloudy
Tokyo where it is already evening and 27 degrees Celsius
Texas where the energy is
Silicon Valley wherever you are
or Chongqing the land of laptops
and the microchips of Taiwan, whose endangered species
include the Asian leopard cat, the small-clawed otter
             and black bear
I have never been there, or to Bangladesh
where this blouse is made
and is always in the daylight undone.
I am so sorry for everyone I want something bad to be over.
Only to Oban or some other port town
wherever you are cold and lonely
and the pubs are closed forever.
London I am wondering will I see you soon.
We could fill this book with mulberries, fractals
              and elderflower.            
I once drew the church spires of Portobello, Edinburgh
to look ancient in the vague way of having lost something.
We fill this book with ventilation.
                                                Then I saw
a swimming pool where your kidney should be
and I worried.

If a dream comes
to leave the internet long enough to notice
            love grown triangular in a purple sky
                          is a gift. Like Toblerone you have to open
and bite one slab at a time. Sorry this is so long.
The sky a long prelude to an ultimate earring, a raindrop
holding all the other raindrops inside it
                                        as if they were calories
and could melt another life inside you.
            Having worn this through all the Ice Age
            of your mind
could it resolve in my mouth to speak it?
            I remember something of surfaces/secretions, hype
and critique, chapters
            of unrequited poem, a segue or swerve, cinders,
cloud and visions, hyper or hypo, every poem goes here
            lost in the glasshouse of shimmer and foam,
            a tree falls
            silks and veils of the infrascape—we are never alone
            to know this.

I can’t write an up-to-date theory
of what to do about the end of the world, any world
on a day like this, blue skied and clear
            as retail
                            Therefore am I still
                 A lover
in the REM phase of the anthropocene, not Prime Day
but meadowed by elements of waking life,
            the irreversible impact
had shattered the glass entirely                                
it’s sexy, so summer
as if like
            we could leave this chrysalis an intact species
                                                            as Frank O’Hara says,
                                                            no more dying
I dream you awakening in the capital city,
this is already happening

If a dream comes,
not to have diarised our lives out of air, catastrophising
the rampant consumerism of our nascent ancestors, kissing
each other’s antibodies
            I want this weeping receptacle
                        to hold us better



                        in a more-than-human neural field
             where aurora borealis is just what bats do
                                    and we love it

I want you to read this
as if together to mash discourse from coal fire, sunlessness
as if to weave lyric from cinders
and the terrible love of spiders
moving lapidary over this glasshouse
in which the hawthorn tea is served, and you are sitting down
to the architecture of this poem around you,
             squeezed and rippled
by what streams through it is always the transmutation of
                                                                           this other heart
whose capacity
to swell
aspires to solarity
             so easily
walking into the auto-explosion
that would upset their web, silvering
                        im/possible beauty  
                                    and to shake these addictions

If a dream comes, disposing the waste
years of research, electronica
cathecting twilight, hoarding data
for years ahead
                        when they said, we have ten years to ‘turn
           this around’
I had only just started
to get turnt.
It was a funded period.

                        If this poem is also dream media
does it control the way you read? Dreaming the pause
from algorithm, future nutrition, the bright green
           trees in the mirror.
‘But I have faith in photosynthesis’ says Robin Wall Kimmerer.
The way you read is also moss
and lichenous ventriloquism of fungi and algae, not to exist
in pure symbiosis with the way you think
                                 but to care for each other
                                         in the time of the poem
                                                  coming always too late and early
                                         the energy you need
                                 I get this email with the subject heading:
I have no dream job, I do not dream of labour 

Did I have your dream to lie down and reading
this before it was written
nothing seemed inevitable, the labour theory
                                                      of my dreams is a meadow
after capitalism, it just keeps growing, when we are
           all lying down
                                                      after having done the day
I will remember this solstice
                                                encased in glass, all loss
                        having once been smashed as I am
                                                from doing the writing
                        in this body, double vaxxed in the luteal phase,
                                                the dream’s
                        still coming to hold and shed.

I have never seen a photograph of nature.
There is nobody left to put a shelf up.
I have lived through ordinary feminised pain.
As far as I know, you will have lived through more of it
                             or melancholia, not to say every reading
                                             is a child of the one before
                             but I was older when I wrote this,
                                                            now I could be so young

            as to crawl into the glasshouse with spiders for eyes
and see everything
            born over.

                                                             If a dream comes
                                                it will have felt like this.
            The lyric architecture of nowhere, which is to say
                                                            a hospital, or
you put your hands in the soil of some no place, utopia, you put
           your left leg
                                                in the ocean, your arms
                                                                    in a spiral, your arteries
quiet. What comes of us
                                                by the end of all this
                                                                    is just more foam
                                                                    refracted memory
            we’ll safely degrade in the silicon wafer
            of this mattress, or in the dust of the actual,
            the last shelf
                                              ever made on earth, was it slant
                                                                             did I sleep on it?

            If a dream comes
as waitresses still do, with your neutral milky halo
            afloat on flat white
                                    the silicon ingot of this oaten thought 
                                                on a small-town street
                                                imagine I am writing this for you
                                    crisp and so close
                                    to a strawberry full moon
and strawberries ripening
in certain parts of North America
             or in your irises, early
                                                 to rise
                                    and strained by this life online.

I’m very glad the bee got free from my room
in early June, I should be sleeping.
            This book is for the animal
                                    and go back to sleep.

                                    Currently, I want to begin by saying
we could have this prosperity and somehow emotion
despite the heat / demand of everything I dreamt
               last night was gone.
                                      It is not about money

                                      but what we do with each other.
I want to say read this however you like, in the desire lines
                and road trips of a roving mammal, full immunity,
seedling zoomed from the casual delicacy of this
stop and go
                into the meadow, the glasshouse, the old prairie,
                the forest not lost. No more void
only plenum.
Having tagged you
Sorry I had to be human
or anyone. I hugged her
as she said ‘this won’t be forever.’
Reader, I wrote this all in bed.


We sleep to recover.
The person I love most considers this labour, like
we should be paid to sleep
especially a bonus to dream
and I cherish the thought as more beautiful than bread,
a universal basic income of poem
to rise perfectly into the morning, a radiant hungerful smell
                                                            that is song, sliced
                                      or taken in great nourishing chunks

If a dream comes, and is always coming
around the mountain
            or intricate oceans of more prose, shimmers
            not to be leased to the institution
                        the immense déjà vu of our random access
                                       to all this memory
                         Glasgow is a lush fern in April, a library
opening to the summer wind
                          which still exists, a little more in the poem
                          come June
                          and everything earnest
                          you can borrow all the books you like.
                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
                          I will know what to do today, the 21st
                          penultimate Monday in which I live on
                          Montague Street
                          having written 100,000 words
                          and more of all this
                          more emails
                          between four walls
                          I also had a dream about trying to get home
                                         about the pulmonary embolism of not
                                         this metaphor
                                         the menstrual cramp in my language
to experience all this and not extract
with the sun in my eye
and call it a hypercritique
and call you back from having read all the dream
of the longest day of the year, in this new decade already
like ‘hi, hello, hi!’ 
we’re just waking up

Summer Solstice


Maria Sledmere
is an artist, editor, educator and writer based in Glasgow. She is the author of over twenty creative publications, including Cinders (Krupskaya, 2024), An Aura of Plasma Around the Sun (Hem Press, 2023), Cocoa and Nothing (with Colin Herd, SPAM Press, 2023), Visions & Feed (HVTN Press, 2022) and The Luna Erratum (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2021). With Rhian Williams, she co-edited the anthology the weird folds: everyday poems from the anthropocene (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2020). Sledmere lectures in English & Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde, is managing editor of SPAM Press and teaches writing workshops for Beyond Form and the87press.

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