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GREATEST EMPIRE EVER by Shannon Clinton-Copeland

Updated: Jul 6

After Momtaza Mehri

choke yourself to feel something. even in pornography roughness is not always synonymous with suffering. get comfortable with eulogising the living & being sorry constantly. to do this books of sonnets have been ransacked & brought to their knees and still there are languages we simply are not speaking. there are silences that others eat when they want something to sustain them. find places to live in hollows only: clavicle shadows and wet dreams. a sense of impermanence is necessary to stunt healing. when we are being honest there are no words that actually mean truthfully. let everything kill you. sweep it all under the rug then let it trip you constantly. hawk your bruised knees at an upscale produce market or in university admission meetings. be as unimposing as the skin of a garlic clove & half as heavy. i don’t know if i want to keep alive or crucify the things i put in my poems. here’s something you should know: you can write about anything. go home. don’t go home. turn your mother into piano music or a television game show & then they will listen. let go. i am giving you many sunsets. send pictures of the beach. do not go home. you should know that to make yourself english is to become expert in loving only what will kill you eventually.


Shannon Clinton-Copeland is a London-born Ireland-raised writer and poet living in Norwich. She has degrees in literature and creative writing from UEA, where she is working on her PhD. Her work has been published by Bandit Fiction, Leslie Magazine and The Rialto and commissioned by the National Centre for Writing.

This poem was selected by Anthropocene guest editor Tom Branfoot.


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