Poem In Which I Reside in a Female Prison with Two Male Guards and No Allies

My sentence was to end in May, but the law changed, and although no one can satisfactorily explain how this amendment applies to me, I am admittedly deaf to cultural nuance, insisting (as though anyone cares) I’d have been released if I were jailed in my home country where my crime is de rigueur and where, too, my guards would almost certainly not be men, one of whom fucks me which is fine because I am that needy, whereas the other wants no sex but gives presents I can’t use like ponchos saying Beati Possidentes.  When new prisoners join they cursorily look my way then ignore me as though my aging reminds them of what they’ll be after 10 years of dichotomous treatment. They don’t ask my advice which is just as well because I know nothing and suffer from a brain fog that is either anxiety or else I am being poisoned: maybe by the gifts from the second prison guard or maybe the semen from the first, or maybe—as is the predominant explanation—I am administering it myself.

Kathryn Maris

poem in which I mention at the last minute an orrery

to be honest there are certain
people i have only ever met in
the rain

i am a moon and you
are a moon
i mean i am the moon and
yes you are too
i am calmer when we’re the
moon if you can believe such
a thing

consider the things my body is
for example there is a part of it
which is an ankle
another part which i can only describe as
the distance between distance
and distance
a part which makes a muffled
hopeful noise and another part which is
an ankle

on the moon there is an american flag
on us though there is nothing
just now

of the 47 nesting herons
displaced by the recent storms
47 died

i have stopped doing the thing you sometimes
complain about
which we notice at the same time
tapioca exists you’ve just
remembered and so tell me

oh my heavens we think and then
the word tapioca

moon and moon

all the same there are certain people
i have never met

good morning pop music
is inside me like a wind
pop music is in me like
gas in the moon

there is an orrery
of us
i have seen it behind
glass and it is true

Crispin Best

Poem in Which the Girl Has No Door on Her Mouth

The girl in the bathroom,
her words are waiting
the way pips are suspended in the throat of an apple.

She spits into the sink.
Who is this girl. Where is this bathroom.
She throws something into the bin from a distance –
she very rarely misses.

Her heartbeat vibrates little waves through the bathwater.
She is an island, after all.
The sound of her blood in her ears is a fuzzy,
high-pitched sound.

A voice from the next room calls out
come here.
Whose voice is this.
What do they want from her.

There is a pain between her shoulder blades.
It is a central pain, where wings would sprout from.

When she closes her eyes
she is in a room of girls in identical clothes
refusing to dissect cow hearts –
their purpleness, their unromantic shapes.

It is a hot, bright day
and the smell of blood fills the air, or seems to.

Underwater she is rehearsing
once again
the moment she will pour forth words, which will be arrows,
which lodge in the thigh of a warrior,

who looks at them but doesn’t feel pain.
The brain tells the body a lie. The brain
tells the eyes a lie.

The heart continues to beat
after it is removed from the body
like a mouth failing over and over again to find words.

Rebecca Perry

Poem in which I explain to the stag why no more stag poems will ever be written

That’s right, my lairy Satanic Majesty,
I’m talking to you. Cruiserweight pimp
with a large eye, in all of nature’s clever,
classless polyglot, you alone are undisputed
Top Banana. When I saw you, a tooled up
heavy, strutting alone along a Tavistock
b-road, I knew. I knew it was me you’d
come for, putting the fright’ners on, demanding
a poem with menaces. Preening headcase, moon-
stomping in front of the van, a goading loon
in headlight’s yellow glare: come annava go,
if you think your ‘ard enough. Unpicking my
genteel pretentions one by one, dragging me
back to the Old Life, my dreams of you.

See, as a kid I relived the pure torture porn
of your headgear, nightly: a Godfather goring
my poor grey lurcher, who never did nothing
to no one, who never did nothing to you. I kept
coming back to your sudden bulk, big as an end
of level boss, on the ridge, on the right, tossing
your head, snapping your neck like a Madchester
wideboy strung out on speed. My poor dead dog,
like you thought it was funny. I knew, when you
came, eyeballing me, all hardboiled spookiness
there in the dark lane, twisting. I knew what you
were, what you are, what you wanted.

Lie for me, poet, you said, lay it on thick
about Beauty and Strangeness; the mute
clairvoyant calm of my weird, green spaces.
Fucked if I will. Do your own PR! Your world
is harsh. And you, for all your suedehead softness,
are a rocksteady bully-boy, ready for unlimited aggro.

Fran Lock

Three poems in which

A (love) poem in which : all corners show


A poem in which : a hush 

December’s soft brush-
00Strokes of sunsets
The city, the year winding

At every loss a
000Little more
Light leached from the world

00000Now wordless, now –


A poem in which : a coda 

Or is it
00000if at all? When a pause
All streams still, the land-
00000scapes stay

& the heart it releases its dead



 Alexander Booth




Poem in which i call you from under the sea

The phone call imagined but not spent
wrestling with sharks. The phone call
dialled from the wrong house, bent
like it’s Christmas, strangled by the chord.

The phone call that threatens to refill
the end of your expression. The
phone call……………..that I
can’t top-up with bubbles.

The phone call……………..that rumbles
from under my feet to……………..yours.

Do you think
………we can tell me
……………..the phone call that I

hope you’re not
……………..sinking ……………..?

the phone call
………is waiting………for

………that I
……………..hope is not real

Claire Trévien


Poem in Which We Eat Breakfast Late

fried eggs with a bloody heart
high saturation

blue dust clouds / your irises

a hair in my eye i can’t look away

elastic & cotton around my thigh
(your hand, my wrist)
too distracted; slips with small steps

two fingers hooked into the hem
a bunch of pink / a pore, a dimple

after milk in the tea / stirs hot
spoon in my mouth
my tongue in then my teeth

winter / grey marl to my waist
my thighs the point where skin
we’ve never lived in houses with shutters

lines of light between the blinds
stretch until you can see me

one arm on the formica
in later on’s pink eyes you looked
clean-shaven and i ran a hand just over

just above your arm and i felt
the heat rise there like hairs

Charlotte Geater

Poem in Which The Poet Takes a Step Back

Can you love this poem?
Isn’t it easy to be in love with this?
Do you want this to go on?
Is it called “sleight of hand” or “sight of hand?”
Is this just a silly poem?
How do you feel about facing this speaker?
How do you feel about facing pages?
And what about the adjective “little?”
This is a query (or is it a comment?)
Is this scientific or enough?
Is this scientific or tough?
Isn’t all poetry forever?
Is this an exceptional phrase?
Should I leave room for a pause?
What about starting a poem with “Better than?”

Leah Umansky

Poem in which my life is like the chuckle brothers’

I’ll be laying a litter of tax receipts,
white scales on the living room carpet,
when I smell gas and open a window
forgetting the thick march wind.
Also, no one will ever trust me with a ladder.

Every time I try some new adventure
– to build a greenhouse from a boxed kit
or run a cake factory where dough’s
exuded from rubber nozzles –
there’s a rabbit-haired fat man who will shout at me.

He may put on a new surname each morning
and wear a nylon suit or a golfing outfit.
He may be a yellow-bibbed driving examiner,
a lone policeman or the head gardener,
but his pit-bull fury stops me every time.

Holly Hopkins

Poem in Which He Mixes A Drink In My Head

He had a drink problem, he said,
as we stood absolutely in the same place in the world
and at exactly the same time – he said that too,
bottle of Czech beer at his lips, geometric stars on his shirt.
I knew I wanted that problem in my head,
stirred in cocktail stemmers over cracked ice.

And so it came to pass: he milked
the juice of a lemon into a tall glass,
stacked a spoon of sugar, decanted a jigger of whisky
and sluiced with cold soda water;
sometimes he dressed with a cherry slice.

Was it him or the drink that mixed up
time and elements
so that sunlight dolphined
the leafwhelmed rivers of sycamores
even in insomnia. The mattress, fat

against the drizzled railings wasn’t dumped
it was part of the universal grid
that connects our wanton hearts;
its fawn stain was a signal
for the abandonment of self.

But that’s the thing with a good drink,
soon everyone wants one: the shaker,
the bitters, the very pith of him.
He spared the glass swizzle,
grabbed the rye
and the scent of green as leaves darkened to August.

I incline my head to the left, pour
and siphon off the dregs,
I funnel them through my ear,
twist the lid, shake it,
and here it is, in my hand, effervescing.

Alison Winch