‘Immorality’ by Annie Katchinska





Our plane falls towards a stretch of river dark as charcoal and very still we nosedive down it’s disappointing I wake up.


Sudden godlessness in the dark a screeching sound a plane overhead.


A small stone turtle swims against a current of pale grey pebbles towards a slab of rock.


An open space of pebbles is raked and raked by monks, the eternal sea they’re never allowed to forget, and the glossy bamboo feels like madness and plastic.


High school kids with their eyes closed fumble their way between two lucky stones and here’s my translated fortune, You will misunderstand one another. 


What happens if I crack hard the spine of my Bible ha, like this and snapping the pages scream with anger searching for an appropriate verse, Be sober-minded; be watchful.


During last night’s deep-fried everything on sticks they numbed my mouth with heat and oil and finally spoke.


Octopus, eel, green pepper, pumpkin, remember, lotus root, remember, battered and, battered and, decisions take time but the rules write battered and skewered sexual sin the right


and the wrong ways to think and live in chewy gold, with an oily gold crust, and do I accept with a godly gold crust can I gulp that, will I gulp it, gulp it down.


I wake up godless, or I wake up and experiment with waking up godless, or waking up thinking I’m godless which would mean the same thing, if I actually thought it.


Bare-shouldered on the balcony with pencil-coloured light and godlessness like suddenly taking off headphones – silence.


How we came to the thatched yellow house at the edge of the yellow field and stepped inside gently, a tidy poem.


These decisions take time she says in the doorway putting a hand to my shoulder beginning to wrap my neck in gold string winding it down and down my torso it’s inescapable I wake up.





Psalmwork is 

violent and gives 

no answers: 

mountains slide 

slide slide into 

the sea and 

a whirling boy 

is David floodlit 

chewing his 

hands attempting


to speak to you, 

to ask for enemies 

shredded and 

pulped though 

still he names 

you fortress, 

refuge as if for 

the likes of us

at least you’re 

safe – September 

air humid like 

sponge cake in 

a dark café

pulling pieces 

off a sponge cake, 

I try to reconcile 


and He is our 

fortress they 

loudly insist, let 

me open their 

heads I’d see 

their neon 


certain brains 

but you are not 

safe, not a soft 

shape – you 

unfold in me 

your allergens, 

a waxy bud to 

the lip then the 

tongue the gut 

the spikes of 

the grass the 

wings of a wasp 

as sheets of 

water spill from 

clouds September 

September September,

punishment, a 

divisive light 

you are, 


you freeze/

pixellate my 

faraway boyfriend 

How would I 

rate the quality 

of my call Our 

father father father 


particular sheep,

I roll that 

around on 

my swollen 

tongue, sleeping 

a hard thick 

heavy block 

of a sleep will 

not fix this. As 

the deer pants 

for streams 

of water, what 

I don’t know 

can’t also be 




is not faith, a 

collapsing pile 

of shells, the 


shells shells shells 

make me sick 

like communion, 

like certainty 

how dare they 

assume, how 

dare they 

dictate but 

still every 

Sunday I 

nearly break 

into a run on 

the way to 

you so what 

is a boyfriend, 

a homeland 

when the park 

is full of rice-

stuffed squid, 

sea urchins 

are black shiny 

beasts slit down 

the middle and 

just a glimpse, 

a flicker of 

their gooey 

yellow – as the 

deer drinks 

the difficult 

water so I keep 

reading on 

thin paper 

that the kindness 

we practice is 


and when 


leave, we 

let them.





Devotion pares a body down – 

northern sea, fresh fish, knife to cut a question out.


As snowflies push the air I stop rustling 

and kicking and fall still – there is a universe 


in which a problem exists and another in which 

you push again against 


all pristine logic, I pick you up 

and your head clicks back, your eyes 


roll back, the battery in your chest crackles 

stand up – leave your mother father lover – 


pack your precious body into a cube for me – 

you crackle peace, peace 


I leave with you – a dripping circle 

hovering here in the part of my brain 


where I only want, where I pick 

a universe. Press myself to it. Each line of prayer 


becomes hot, unbreakable,

Your eyes to my eyes Your skin to my skin – 


in this heat we worshippers starfish our hands 

or clutch ourselves as if stabbed or as if 


it’s the first time we’ve ever worshipped 

and we’ve known nothing, nothing like it and yes, 


I fall in with this code – 

by loosening the body I become light and sinewy, 


a loosened body is trusting, you stream down 

my throat like cold fruit juice and my hands 


open out, outside it turns colder, 

the city is lightly frosted Lego, 


mountains surround the city 

expecting everything.



Annie Katchinska was born in Moscow in 1990 and grew up in London. After graduating from university she spent two years living and working in Sapporo, Japan, before returning in 2013 to London, where she is now working towards a diploma in child counselling. She was a Faber New Poet in 2010.



Image credit: stephen frith

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