Thirteen 13s I am unlikely to write, partly because of my indolence and partly because I consider the 13 a twitterary dead end

1. 13 life forms encountered on Phobos, during a routine mining expedition.

2. 13 surgical implements, disinterred shortly after discovery of the Bird King’s remains in the catacombs of Canary Wharf.

3. 13 unrelated episodes, arranged in the semblance of a narrative.

4. 13 self-published novels, destined to be read only by their authors.

5. 13 wishing wells.

6. 13 ways of lying with your eyes.

7. 13 unsolved murder cases, catalogued in a scrappy exercise book by a retired policeman suffering from paranoid delusions.

8. 13 cocktails, served by the Bird King to every tyrant who has ever lived and every poet who has ever loved.

9. 13 poetic atrocities, committed by Mr Punch, before an audience of children, grandparents, seagulls, whelks, fleas, crabs and lager cans.

10. 13 justifications for the Genocide of the Chimeras.

11. 13 insulting epithets, to be screamed at your enemy’s pet rabbit at 4 a.m.

12. 13 ineffable condiments.

13. 13 fragmentary prose poems with preposterous titles, considered a literary delicacy by some and a pile of shit by most.

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This 13 originally appeared as a series of tweets. Copyright James Knight. All rights reserved.

Instructions for the assembly of a junk poem

1. Tweet repeatedly on a theme, image or character. Do not attempt to create a coherent sequence; instead, play with ideas.

2. Optionally, write some longer pieces on the same theme. Be as careless as possible when writing them; they are raw ingredients.

3. When you have amassed a considerable quantity of text, read it all and decide on 13 categories into which it could be organised.

4. Copy all of the tweets and texts in a given category into a new document.

Optionally, add quotations and allusions that seem appropriate.

5. Rearrange the material in each category until it contains the most startling juxtapositions and shifts in tone and register.

6. Cut anything that is too neat or polished or satisfying or poetic.

7. Make arbitrary line breaks, so that your prose resembles free verse.

8. Give your 13-part poem a preposterous title, to encourage people to believe that you take yourself too seriously.

9. Publish your junk poem in book form, in an attempt to make of your ephemeral bric-a-brac a literary monolith.

10. Experience surprise and dismay when very few people buy your book.

11. Find another theme, image or character and begin the process again.

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These instructions describe how I assembled my poems Mr Punch Dreams and the revised Madness of the Bird King, both published in Head Traumas