Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Green cover, with a painting by Lina Kadrova of two lovers under a starry skyI Want to Be the One You Think About at Night, Arun Jeetoo

Waterloo Press, 2020     £8.00

Collected together

The title poem of this pamphlet appears at the end, as a two-parter: ‘3 AM (The Lover)’ and ‘3 AM (The Love Object)’. It reminds me of one particular Far Side cartoon — which shows a split screen and two people lying in bed thinking very different thoughts: the one fixated on the other; the other’s mind completely elsewhere. In the first case, here, in Arun Jeetoo’s poem, ‘in my mind / we glide together / through the stars.’ In the second, ‘I pop my feet out the sheets / as they are sticky and hot.’

Or, as Carson McCullers captures it, in The Ballad of the Sad Café, ‘There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries.’

This is the territory this pamphlet explores: the trickiness of romantic love. The ‘found poem’, ‘Alexa, Do You Love Me?’, reads:

Alexa, do you love me?

I can’t do that but I can find Lionel Richie songs if you like.

Or ‘70 Days’ charts the arc of a new relationship from ‘minds aligned; pleasure’ on ‘Day 11’, to (for instance, on ‘Day 49’): ‘Snogging the curly-haired bartender in the club toilets / while you’re waiting for me at the bar’. ‘I like / me better when I’m with you’, is one thing that poem discovers.

Some of this is challenging territory: romantic love is not an uncomplicated subject, especially when it strays into obsession, or lack of reciprocity. These poems work better, I think, for being collected together. There’s a sense of chaos held; that this is an exploration.

‘THEY’, a poem listed as ‘After A.L. Kennedy’, starts with the line:

THE DELIGHTS OF THEIR BODIES ARE A GIFT THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND.

As if to demonstrate this fact, the other lines are all a muddle — for instance, ‘A GIFT OF ARE DON’T THEIR THEY DELIGHTS, BODIES, UNDERSTAND THE.’

Overall, I was left remembering WH Auden’s poem ‘The More Loving One’:

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Charlotte Gann