The future toddlers of my friends clamber over me and affectionately sprinkle grass onto my shoulders

A drawing of a boot, a series of mechanical objects, and scratchy lines. The edges of the paper are visible.
Hugo Hagger; Stepping In, 2021, 58.2x42cm, Graphite on Paper.


Audio transcription:



The future toddlers of my friends clamber over me and affectionately sprinkle grass onto my shoulders.

Everything is in slow motion, backlit and swarming.
I sit here- writing this while the sound checks for a festival in Victoria Park sound out. It is like 1, 2, 3- 3 ch’ ch’. I sit here writing this while my childhood best friend is preparing to play at this festival- I will be able to hear him from my window.
The present is merely spectral; insufficient, imminent, already-
we apprehend it like ash on our tongues CH’
I’m talking about time
I’m talking about time, before the primary surgery in his head-

my dad has an epileptic fit in a restaurant in cornwall, he falls backwards on his chair seizing, i focus on the fish cake he ordered, on its edges, on it’s there-ness, like the absurd situation of public sculpture attending a murder.


(this is not important).


after the paramedics release him we set up in a hotel room, my mum and brother are perched by the window, i sit at the edge of the bed my dad is laid out on. we watch the fifth element, it is the only film on the hotel t.v guide. my mum watches the sea with her knuckles against her teeth. the sea is not on the hotel t.v guide; it is the most outside.

it starts in that sacred place, remember; those ancient aliens with big traps. my dad tells us that “the costumes were designed by jean paul gaultier.” we acknowledge the costume thing. a few minutes later he tells us “the costumes were designed by jean paul gaultier.” we say you said that already. and then he tELLS us again that the costumes were designed by jean Paul Gaultier, and then again, CH’ and then again he told us -The thought re-emphasised, re-contextualising always, more fear. its completion postponed indefinitely- a thing completely still, yet moving, effecting.
here is me
an eyeball
on a treadmill
here is me
an eyeball
on a treadmill:
the past
here is me
an eyeball
on a treadmill:
the past eternally
here is me
here is me
here is me
face down on a beach producing language:
here is me
7000 later,
Made of skull and that’s it.
my dad has a fit during obama’s inauguration ball. beyoncé is singing ‘at last’while the Obamas slow dance and look into each other’s eyes. Michelle mouths ‘I love you’ to Barack, Barack smiles and mouths ‘elephant juice’ back to her- My mum sits next to my dad, alone in the middle of the night and waits for him to finish shaking and snoring. He is like a war train, his body a transport for a Bloodthirsty infantry jittering and splitting chalk cliffs with pounding blows against an apocalyptic country drum.
Poetry erodes the banks of a supposedly inviolable meaning;
something draconian; like LOVE,
it has



AT last, it stops.



I am reading Crash at the same time as watching Greys Anatomy, as if I needed a visual reference– I have a panic attack on the tube thinking about spines.
Welcome to this writing- it wants to be an assassin or a ballerina,
It remembers you.
A mosquito alights on this, and then…
Changes subject.

Self portrait as ghost- Medium, pending, mayonnaise.
The poem has gone livid. I drink 15 beers.
Three. Hard. Boiled. Eggs. I smoke a cigarette.
Now I am revived I think who shall I be?
i am kissing a boy, i am thinking about death. without telling me he bites down on my tongue as hard as he can- i punch him in the jaw and he falls off my bed. he looks at me holding his cheek and spits out my severed tongue like a cat dropping a disembowelled mouse.
I’m thinking about:
the end of the world
Arrives as music.
as autonomous fragments,
polyphonic bubbles
Then flavoured smoke.
(Deranged, disaffected, Dazzling)
my fingers are malachite keys
I eat a salad of dollar bills-
willing, wilting
metonymy of my


My dad is recovering from brain surgery, there are tubes in his head draining cupfuls of pink liquid into a plastic bag down by his side. We are visiting him in the hospital. My Afloat in Great Aunt Bernadette has come a while to help us through his recovery. the solution She has written books about the Black Death and witchcraft in to a problem medieval Ireland, she is a professor of history at Trinity College Dublin. of drowning How can we be so full of knowledge and legend? How does it fit, incumbent around all of the organs without incorporating and becoming mortal?
The poem whistles to get your attention.
It asks you if you have any up-dog
You say I don’t know what up-dog is
But look at this rat swimming and tell me
The poem is not a body, trying.
the future toddlers of my friends clamber over me and gently pull on my moustache- my friend flora wrinkles her brow at me like a concerned question, i smile at her and her face softens before she tilts her head toward the dying sun. I go to therapy to get over my fear of flying, my therapist thinks my anxiety has something to do with what happened with my Dad, that I flee to my childhood mind, back to the trauma of being alone in that moment of terror. I play up to it, I’m quite a manipulative person.three weeks later i die in a plane crash. the brace position kills you faster, because then nobody can sue the insurance company
or something


Words and Header Image by Hugo Hagger

Hugo Hagger is an artist and writer living in East London. In his writing practice Hugo explores ideas of self sabotage, and how the deflatory logics of bathos can subvert clear readings of autobiography. His texts are often about writing itself, Hugo is interested in what happens when a critical discourse on language and its machinery is set against and alongside the personal, against highly vernacular turns of phrase, anecdotes and confessions. In this sense public and private interpolate and consolidate. The limits of self definition are denuded, pulled into focus by a wider interrogation of the disjunction between words and their meaning.