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’25 minutes on the elliptical’

My body slowed in voluntary, wilful

suspended animation / like thought / I am

waiting / on the cross-trainer


Window fly in front / you are dead / which

is a kind of waiting


Arms and legs snapping towards each

other / like rows of teeth in a great big



Do I mention the loved one / thoughts of

whom I am trying to banish? Or do I just

say that waiting for the loved one is a ruse

/ an attempt to banish myself?


Lax / pushing / lax / … / I would like / … /

to be the fly / … / pushing / amongst dust

/ lax / pushing / the heartrate / pushing /

the intensity


I have been waiting to surrender to the

higher power / any that would ask it:

witchcraft, politics / … / the CIA, yoga / to

force my body through the clunky tasks of



My legs are the strong front legs of a

horse / power no propulsion / my arms

whip about like an angry jockey /

clenching the belt / guns warm by the end


Screens blink a thousand tiny sums / skull

interfaces / a weight bearing overhead /



The binary of arms and legs / like cats and

dogs / slugs and snails / your nose and

your mouth / chicken and egg / which

sickness came first / of the mind / or the

body with it?


Here I am / slow / waiting for my heartrate

to drop


I have chosen carefully / the window at an

angle / reflection facing the street /

background: hot buses waiting to move

up and down the road / people in the

sunshine going somewhere presumably /

foreground: a fly crawls across a dirty glass


What I want: the shaky last drag of a

cigarette / the head-swells / to wait too

long to release the clinging lens from the

surface of my eye / so that it might get



What I want: to be someone having an out

of body experience / in broad daylight /

on an exercise machine


Do I mention the previous visits? / time

adding up in careful slots / delaying

something / waiting / gratifying

something else / the day before / the day



Sleepwalking through liquid / waiting for

something that can never come / like a

held dog or baby / half in water / half in

deadly hopeful air


I let someone come over me like a fever / I

am waiting for you to pass


My phone hums against me / the hotel

falling apart opposite / buses stopped at

the red lights / I press the fan button three

times / having made myself wait / I am…

treating myself?


I bore myself at low intensity / waiting for

my skin to shed


The word elliptical / I find more pleasing

than cross-trainer / frequently I am

confused by mundane processes / I wait at

a door that is open for far too long,

believing it locked


Now as always I think of food I’ve declined


What I want: for my body to slick itself

away from me / layer by layer / whatever

is waiting to be something in there /

juices, fats, mantle / peaceably / for the air

to just take it away


I have often thought I would like to be a

puppet, taxidermy or embalmed corpse /

for a procession of friends and lovers to

move my weight through daily tasks


So that my behaviour might have some

excuse / I am waiting to transform into a

monstrous vermin / ungeheures Ungezeifer


There is shivering in / on / my head / … / I

am waiting to be overwhelmed by the

feeling / for the moment / it swells

outwards / … / claims my twitching limbs

for its purpose / … / to crumple softly to

the ground / to fall against cool glass / a

stoned fly


This is not granted / … / I turn off the

machine / … / feel suddenly burn-red and

sweat-damp / … / fall ungratefully away /

the machine beaming my numbers out to

suddenly-turned faces in the bright /

someone calling a window cleaner

Jasmine Chatfield is a Manchester-based writer, theatre-maker and comedian. They produce and co-host Arts Council funded experimental interdisciplinary performance series FLIM NITE. Their sequence of micro-poems, ‘throat thing’, was published as a micro chapbook with Rinky Dink Press. They received a Northern Writers Award in 2017 as one of the New North Poets 2017-2019 in conjunction with Poetry School.

“This poem was written in response to the second assignment of Gloria Dawson’s Desire Studio, in which we were encouraged to write poems that formulated ‘desire’ using form and duration. Inspired by Roland Barthes’ ‘Waiting’ in ‘A Lover’s’ Discourse’, as well as considering the idea of a poem as a unit of time, I wrote a short verse for each minute I spent on the cross-trainer at my local gym trying to keep my mind off something else. I was thinking about how waiting is typically seen as a passive act, while it can in fact be fraught, hyper-active. The poem focuses on both the physical sensations of exercise as well as the places the mind wanders to while the body is occupied.”

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