How to decode your orange-peel fortunes is a pamphlet about tiny encounters. It’s about the moment the blossom comes into full bloom: perfectly pink, terrifyingly wonderful. It’s about going for a walk and seeing an astoundingly white butterfly; it’s about noticing roadkill and feeling, just for a moment, life teeter. It’s about those moments when the right song comes on at the right time, when nothing else makes sense but your favourite poem, how that can be enough. It’s about how entirely good it is when you eat fruit that’s so perfectly ripe that everything else in your life glows full of clarity. It’s about the time after you’ve been so sad when you begin to piece a life back together: small beauty by small beauty.

The pamphlet also includes a longer piece called ‘Conversations with the moon: An essay on poetry’, where the speaker talks to the moon, drawing on Amelia Lanyer and Sylvia Plath, luxuriating in the clichéness of it all. The moon doesn’t care about our sadness, but we tell it anyway. How human, how brilliant, is that?

It is the second pamphlet by Alice Wickenden.

Alice Wickenden

for joy


A magpie dismantled a tree twig by twig,

crossed the road, remembered it on concrete.


Cuddled into it like an embrace. A fat pigeon slumped on the pavement

like a king – like a drunk – watched me watch the magpie with


disdain. And a little pity. He said: you know it’s not the season

for nest building. I said: well it has been unreasonably warm


he said: they’re not as mysterious as you think, or as smart.

I didn’t know what he meant. Magpies he explained


you go cursing fates upon them. By you he meant humans.

A little bitterness in his voice. Crabbed foot, half-claw veteran.


I thought of the way we make benches uninhabitable

for men by making them uninhabitable for birds,


how we justify anti-homeless spikes by saying they prevent

bird shit. The pigeon was bored of my conversation, I had no bread,


no answers. One for sorrow he said gloomily. What? You never

thought what it does? To be cursed to bring misery if you’re alone?


Well, I’m just glad you don’t make meanings out of me. Magpie

above us glinted sapphire. Desperate to have the last word I lied:


I think all birds are beautiful. He glared at me. Evil. Fuck! Evil.

Repulsive animal. His stumped foot like coral accused.