Phrase Book

Jo Shapcott

I'm standing here inside my skin,

which will do for a Human Remains Pouch

for the moment. Look down there (up there).

Quickly. Slowly. This is my front room


where I'm lost in the action. live from a war,

on screen. I am Englishwoman. I don't understand you,

What's the matter? You are right. You are wrong.

Things are going well (badly). Am I disturbing you?


TV is showing bliss as taught to pilots:

Blend, Low silhouette, Irregular shape, Small,

Secluded. (Please write it down. Please speak slowly.)

Bliss is how it was in this very room


when I raised my body to his mouth,

when he even balanced me in the air,

or at least I thought so and yes the pilots say

yes they have caught it through the Side-Looking


Airbone Radar, and through the J-Stars.

I am expecting a gentleman (a young gentleman,

two gentlemen, some gentlemen). Please send him

(them) up at once. This is really beautiful.


Yes they have seen us, the pilots in the Kill Box

on their screens and played the routine for

getting us Stealthed, that is, Cleaned, to you and me,

Taken Out. They know how to move into a single room


like that,  to send in with Pinpoint Accuracy, a hundred Harms.

I have two cases and a cardboard box. There is another

bag there. I cannot open my case-look out,

the lock is broken. Have I done enough?


Bliss the pilots say is for evasion

and escape. What's love in all this debris?

Just one person pounding another into dust,

into dust. I do not know the word for it yet.


Where is the British Consulate? Please explain.

What does it mean? What must I do? Where

can I find?  What have I done? I have done

nothing. Let me pass please. I am an Englishwoman.