In the desert in Sardinia

After Sebastiane (1976)


The     man     wearing     the     least    clothing   is

sharpening      a      knife.      There     are    people

on   the  TV   in   the   gym   with   infinitely    more


fuckable    bodies    than    me.    In   the   rain-wet

faces    of     the    public   was   a  freefall  through

a   series  of  white  thuds.  Someone  has to do it.


If   you  are  that  would-be  jackal  two  inches  off

my   lungs  or  something   similarly  real,  realness

measured  in  threat, you  would  understand  this.


My     beliefs    looking    at    me    in    the   dark -

not    horrifying    -    just    expectant.    I    wanted

to  walk   off   my    body   or   the   subjunctive   is


not   in  direct   reference  to  what  is   necessarily

real    but    instead    actually     the    new    year -


lowercase - and to the embarrassing flagrant back


of       me.       I       search       the       conversation

on  the messaging  app  for versions of  you  have

made  me  proud.  In  any  desert, I  have not  said


my   name.   I   would   be  an   engine  of  already


gone,    would   be   of   why   should   I   not   and

tower     over     me.      To     bring     on     solstice


I      have      been      having      in      my      mouth

crocuses    methodised    right    are     breathable

through     initially     waking     something      then


no   matter   that   I   do   not   ever   behold    you

again.           Not       meaning       much       I       to

accompanying                                                 beats.


Back-of-the-neck hairs. It is so offered to me.  I do

not       remember      the      taste      done      with

making      life      I      looked      at      the     career


of         an         omen         no         one         having

to         tell         of         in         the           difference

of      future      from     true      I     forget     I    fear


that           while           bent            over             you

got       an       eyeful       of       my       heart      and

what        does         not         happen        anymore


is      who      were      you      to      look      in      on

excruciatings     in     where      my   no-soul   nests

on        the        other         tv        channel         that


was       all        we        had        in     the    gym   no

one      put       on        the       bird       programme

it           did            not               happen              not


one       dropping       tiredness      though      all

rawness    gone    at    an   end   not   elsewhere


just  done  all  this   for big  shoulders  less  hips


doing all


these associatings and consequentialisings and

when  I  feel  most close to history is when I you
know  and  I  hear  a  film  where  the  dogs  are

heavily breathing

from ‘Medea redux/Hares on the Mountain’


I have been slumping all mirrors wrong way in against the wall because I have been thinking about what we owe to each other. When I say all talk of sex embarrasses you, it means the pale grit bends to the shape of my clothed knees. I do not take the clothing of my knees lightly so they are clothed lightly in fabric the weaving of which was not a task undertaken lightly the non-lightness of this task was not conceived in light were our children conceived in light


the Internet, pretending, coming, coming,


I lick cordial off my wrist

to facilitate

of a photo or some other likeness

of you. I will have been admitting


this. What other admission I will publish

the machinations of all my organs

bar some. I am a good dog

in romantic scenery, bad thing.


I would have climbed across a dome of marble

or designer granite second only to the firmament, as if

this dome were a sand dune, to see

where the past thirteen days have gone. When


in every sense but physical you were

wringing your hands, bereft, nobody to

prop you at the [event]’s end, it had me


thirsty in this autumn way,

orange-yellow, conscientious production

of heat, affronting winter. Callas’ Medea

is the inverse of ripple of stone in the hands

after pressing against or slapping.


I hope you come back to your acts of squirreling

away. Callas’ Medea is senseless

and has been making. I was seeing


plagues in my dreams, of insects,


of cruise ships cutting

through land as if scalpels, scraping,

the insects burdensome. Pasolini’s Medea has

no onscreen interaction with gods though

special effects of the time would have allowed for the staging

and what is the meaning of this choice, the apostrophising,

the centaur, the globules of beaded jewellery

in places of apparition, separate union,

voices in the night’s sky. I believed in a factory of


care and affection. What does it

mean of me in worlds of this shaping

to know song as a function of organs,

biologically, you will be explaining this,

no I will be buoying my song

along knowing I will live

the experience

of ornamental gravel, all those I cannot stand

until I do. I hate when the world gets me so ashamed.


"In the desert in Sardinia is part of my ongoing interest in the poetics of film and the cinema of poetry. Here, I was thinking about the embarrassment and exuberance of looking queerly; about moving images that stare back and these existing along a spectrum of dread and pleasure; the somehow simultaneous anonymity and conspicuousness of going to the gym alone and watching a film alone. 


These excerpts are from Medea redux / Hares on the Mountain, a long piece in progress considering the myth of Medea and the English folk song 'Hares on the Mountain', after the Internet. I wanted to distort and ricochet the trope in myth of a woman pursued and transforming who, on running out of transformations, falls (for) a man; to inhabit and take apart the 'I' and 'we' of a text; to devote to the sexlessness, sexuality, and magic of the hare; to orbit Medea in all her unpredictability, pride, and desire for a time; and to somehow mark the temporality of crisis."

Ali Graham lives and works in Norwich. Their poetry has been published by The Tangerine and Datableed, and their essays have been published by SPAM zine and Stride. Their interests include hybridity, lyric essays, folds, and materialities.


Ali can be found on Twitter as A__Graham and Instagram as aligrhm.