all the offal love. by Ali Whitelock

when it all draws to a close––
will i have left the imprint of my fingertips
in the soft yellow marzipan of my days. when
the tungsten coil of the twenty watt bulb i always
said i’d replace with something brighter, pfoofs
& dies with all the certainty of an 18-35 year old
male suicide in the bush, will my performance
on the parallel bars of my life be judged by good god,
with marks out of ten on holy score
cards in the sky?
who rejoices in rubbing my nose in the pishy
carpet of my failings? when i get to the end of my
days will i have stretched my stomach thin & transparent,
wrapped it around the haggis of my heart, stuffed
it with all the offal love & tender hate (which
is really just another sort of love)?

will i
that despite me burying it deep in the crocus
bowl of my winters, sliding it under the dark side of
my bed, pulling the door shut tight, still its thin green arms
grew, stretched out across the carpet reaching for its mother,
demanding to be fed. what sort of a mother can ignore
her bawling child? i should have let it die. instead
i fed it till it was fat with formula & heavy
with blooms so terrifying a pink even
sometimes when i’m driving back from the supermarket
i consider the possibility i may not make it home alive.
when i pull into my driveway & i’m not dead, i unpack
the car, marvel at the canned spaghetti & sliced white bread
i’ll get to enjoy if i make it into the house without breaking
my neck on the stairs & every other day i don’t die, i try
to go to bed eager. wake up glad. i do my best to whip
the egg whites of my love till they stand in peaks
of their own accord. i sift my light like flour.
churn my hate till it turns to butter.

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer living on the south coast of Sydney with her French chain-smoking husband. Her debut poetry collection, ‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ has just been released by Wakefield Press, Adelaide and her memoir, ‘Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell’ was launched to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK in 2010. Her poems have appeared in The Moth Magazine, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine, The Tahoma Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Gutter Magazine, NorthWords Now, The Poets’ Republic, The Red Room Company, Beautiful Losers Magazine, Backstory Journal, Other Terrain Journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Canberra Times, Bareknuckle Poet, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Glasgow Review of Books, Neighbourhood Paper, The Burning House, The Hunter Writers’ Centre ‘Grieve’ Volume 6 Anthology, Poethead, and upcoming in The University of Wisconsin’s Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry. She is currently working on her second poetry collection, ‘the lactic acid in the calves of your despair’ and her second memoir, ‘andy’s snack van tour of scotland’. | On YouTube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Reviews of 'and my heart crumples like a coke can'

The Saturday Paper
'These poems offer sharp social observations, frankness played for laughs and nourishing doses of swearing. Whitelock’s gifts to poetry are many. These include showing how poetry doesn’t have to be written for a minority in order to be first-rate.'

The Glasgow Review Of Books
'Ali Whitelock’s voice? I really don’t know what to say to do justice to the distinctiveness and intrigue of it, but she should probably always speak into a megaphone, for starters. She has a lot to say and a way of saying it that should be given full attention.'

Dr Brentley Frazer (Poets' Republic)
'Where Sharon Olds’ poetry laps my ankles with gentle waves of allusion, Whitelock’s work reads like a rip which takes your legs out from under you. There is no swimming against this tide of biting wit and searing turns of phrase; you may as well let her ocean take you to the watery after world.'

Compulsive Reader
'The poetry manages to be both pithy and almost hysterically funny, not an easy mix to achieve .... Whitelock captures this duality perfectly, taking a stand-up comedian’s incision to pretension and human foibles.'