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Excerpt From “Thirteen Morisettes” by Courtney Bush & Jack Underwood

The Morisette is a new poetic form developed by Courtney Bush and Jack Underwood. The primary constraint of the Morisette is that its lines are formed out of the deliberate mis-transcribing of Alanis Morissette lyrics. The Morisette is (usually) comprised of two mis-transcribed verses, followed by a mis-transcribed chorus to end the poem. You can read more about their collaboration here.

The pamphlet, Thirteen Morisettes, published by SPAMzine and Press in February 2024, consists both of morisettes and correspondences between Courtney and Jack. Excerpt below.

Dear Courtney, 

I saw Alanis again today. She was at Woolwich 
market feeling over all the fruits and vegetables. 
There was a look of great concern on her face. Her 
hair appeared matted with something like egg-yoke 
or a ghostly kind of ectoplasm, though it shone 
vividly. She had haggled the vendor down on 
avocados, two for a pound, but she kept going, she 
wanted another one, three for a pound, and this was 
clearly unreasonable, but gradually the man became 
tired, then desperate, then desperately sad. It was as 
if his life was being compacted by her demand, as if 
his life, made out of time, which is bendable, was 
collapsing inwards, and after fourteen minutes of 
watching this I checked my watch (which is really 
just the screen of my Iphone SE (2nd generation)) 
then when I looked up, the vendor – I couldn't be 
sure because I had been looking at my phone – had 
turned into a third avocado, larger than the others, 
about the size of a melon, and Alanis had picked 
him up and was carrying him away with her. 
Passing she looked right at me, with the same 
intensity she does @ 2:56 in the video for "All I 
Really want" when she looks up from her
harmonica straight into the camera. I knew from
this look that it was now expected that I would take
over at his stall, for reasons she alone understood,
but refused to impart to me. But I didn't. I left all
those fruit and vegetables to fend for themselves. I
never came back to them, and I suppose they are
still there now. I don't know, because after that I
went to TX Maxx (which you, an American, will
call TJ Maxx) and tried on five shirts, but none of
them fit me, because neither of my arms are
imperceptibly but nevertheless somewhat longer
than the other.


In Oman, tonight he ate

e-wallet log-terrine/under the neck stain.

Incel black-tie, dinner, chard two-ways…

incel death-rope, ardent, two minims due late.

An ism or I wan’ it. Don’t chew, think!

Missed the play itself/ mass affray (tough lie).

Alpaca sous chef/ unpissed-ist skit scuba. 

We waded this hoedown lie/to tic-tac lite:

an essay plain cash-hound/ e-bought 

well-ism, swiss-knife.

Well-ism or I’m on it. Don’t chew, think!

Lambs radiate/ on a redding plate.

It so feel right/ window fall red in pain.

Miso-goo dad-vice/ that hugest “god-aunt” take:

Un-DER-wood in thought? Six figures.

you are tinnow

I warned you, Tinnow. Lie-mapped Easter yew,

Irish nothing-much, Theban storm, U-boat.

Another virgin amie?

A sheeper, herded? Likely.

Whooshy ghost town, a new winded ether.

To change speed, yell openly.

And we’ll drink half a Bay Breeze,

find churchy maidens wielding hexagon offers.

Custom loofah, the grapes, the Oui, mais

that you say. Built tomb, May-kitten up the roof

to the oaken wild. So…

Never tried but seemed germane.

Truth-scene over, the coma, 

Blue tome’d eons, still rude-eyed.

Shrill root-dyed, butcher’s willow hive.

And a mere dew reminder:

Clover-rest, tulip, minnow, window-pane.

Bit-knot snared, treat me kindly.

Soft the cross-eyed bear-dad who came to see…

who? Through you? I don’t know.


Dear Jack, 

You’re going to think I’m lying but I saw Alanis on 
Wednesday morning in the bathroom at the 
Thomas Edison rest stop. I think I was behind her 
in line at the rest stop Starbucks too, but I only 
knew for sure that it was her in the bathroom. I was 
so excited to be in the rest stop with the Pret, 
Starbucks, regular gas station stores, Sbarro, even a 
stand that sold jewelry, that I ignored the fact that I 
had had to pee so badly in the car, badly enough to 
demand Jake pull over here, and got right in line 
behind him in the long Starbucks line. I shifted my 
weight from foot to foot, held my breath, all the 
normal stuff to try to stop myself from peeing in my 
pants, but I had to give up and leave the line. I told 
Jake I wanted egg bites and a huge cold brew with 
whole milk. He nodded and just before I ran away 
to find the bathroom, I noticed Alanis there. Not so 
much her body or face or person exactly, but the 
way a teenage girl was hunched over her phone and 
the way her dad, or someone I only assume was 
either her dad or her abductor, placed his hand on 
her head and she shoved him away was Alanis. The 
series of movements. And I looked closer, and just 
for a second her face and body were there too, I 
thought. Then, as I sat on the toilet I heard the 
voice of a woman named Jackie. I know her name 
because she said “This is Jackie!” Her voice crackled 
on the PA system from some local New Jersey 
station. “Remember Alanis Morissette?” she asked. 
“Yes, I do,” my inner voice said. “Just saw her, 
actually.” But Jackie wasn’t looking for a response. 
She confessed she had just been to the Alanis 
Morissette and Garbage tour. She got super drunk 
and screamed along and reconnected with her 
teenage self. She even reconnected with her high 
school boyfriend on Facebook, but that’s for 
another day on the morning show. She couldn’t 
recommend it enough. She felt as though she had 
experienced an exorcism. Someone named Wee 
tweeted at her and said that she too had been 
exorcised at the Alanis/Garbage concert. Jackie told 
me to buy tickets to the tour, which has been 
extended. She and Wee can’t recommend it 
enough. I closed my eyes and then I saw her. The 
long, Biblical hair hanging down over the bare 
shoulders. Oh, I was seeing her naked, from the 
video where she sits in the middle of the highway. 
When I opened them, for the briefest moment, she 
was still there. And then she was gone. In her place 
was the writing on the stall door. A pop song played 
and I wondered if Jackie just sat there while the 
song played, did she dance, did she take her own 
bathroom break, do some texting? The truth is 
Jameson asked me to go to the Alanis/Garbage show 
at Jones Beach, but I didn’t because I was 
“working” on my “novel” like an idiot. When I 
returned to get my egg bites, I found there was only 
one left. Jake told me, I saw the Virgin Mary in one 
of your egg bites, but I ate it.

wandered in nantucket

Arm broke but Am-Appy

umpire, buttoned kleins

unsure butter melty yeah!

Am I but a ground dad?

Um…same, bottom of a whale

aimless bitter hope fooled debris.

A field: trunk balanced open.

A young anaconda plays

untied by the wording yeah!

Hi Claire, become wrestler:

cum, hair, bacon rare, legal. 

I’m run out of sordid babel.

Wadded oilskins downtown,

he said everything’s gone a bit fi-fo-fum.

Ghazal clot wandered in Nantucket.

Any honour won is governor hell-fire/

Any honour won is thickening a sick arrest/ 

Any honour water is given a piscine/ 

Any honour what? es-pan-ol? ti amo/

Any honour what is hell in a text me back. 

ants creep

If a warm form yore, my Charity, 

Nun of the Sword of Alp-punned.

A few worm-sour eyes be on jury ears. 

Psych Ward of venerable toucans, droll mice-elves.

Unfit twirl firm-aisled dove tension, yew wood in a 

Benzo cesspool. A nip! 

Eventual work form, EU world-net, for half-thematic 

tooth fairy mulch? 

Chew! Disco-beamed mesh heat butt!

Hugh Dancy’s a tombed mime. 

And who’s drunk hoteling and free-balling? 

An old forelock, this fug, rose-ached rhyme.

Wheel of ash forted tune infuses slander

And known unknowns extract a bolt of fuzz… 

Zendaya fawn, nerd roar, E-quest, forced snide lunch,

And you’ve postured danced cleaved, novice. 

Courtney Bush is a poet and filmmaker from Mississippi, living and working in New York. She is the author of Every Book Is About The Same Thing (Newest York Arts Press, 2022), I Love Information (Milkweed Editions, 2023), and the chapbooks Isn’t This Nice? (blush lit, 2019) and Thirteen Morissettes (SPAMzine and Press, 2024) in collaboration with Jack Underwood.

Jack Underwood
is a poet, writer and critic. He is author of Happiness (Faber, 2015) Solo for Mascha Voice (Test Centre, 2018) and A Year in the New Life (Faber, 2021). His debut work of non-fiction, NOT EVEN THIS, was published by Corsair in 2021. He has collaborated widely with composers and artists, and his work has been published internationally and in translation. He is co-presenter and curator of the Faber Poetry Podcast and is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College.

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