this language is / nothing by Mark Chamberlain


this language is / nothing


my barber said my daughter’s in trouble


except he didn’t cuz when i said

oh gosh, in trouble how? he said no


she’s not in trouble, she is trouble


but actually he said none of this

cuz when i have a haircut my aura says


do not engage me in conversation


so he gazed at my head with sad eyes

& i watched the mirrored clock




nothing is where it’s at


hurry-up i said to the delivery guy

who said urry-up nuffin


& it’s been mine ever since




my ex said are you seeing anyone?

& i said nah mate, seein anyone nuffin


he said he likes a bit of rough trade


then grinned & asked when i had

become so louche with language




king lear said nothing comes of nothing


except he didn’t cuz what he actually

said was nothing will come of nothing


the point is he had never met my barber


& clearly never understood the trouble

yous can get into with a good sharp


cut / & playful freedom of expression




Mark Chamberlain’s poetry has appeared in titles including Magma, The Hudson Review, Finished Creatures, The Financial Times, and FAKE (Corrupted Poetry). He has poems forthcoming in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 (Black Spring Press Group) and Slovakia in Poems (Global Slovakia). His poem ‘england poz’ was commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2020. He has written about ethics, appropriation, and Robert Lowell for The Times Literary Supplement. In October 2021, Mark is starting a PhD at Durham University looking at dialect and code-switching in contemporary British poetry.

20 October 2021