Poem in Which 2003 Called

The year of our lord 2001 called, it wants its
catastrophic obsessions back. And the ancient Greeks,
they called, they want their queer monopoly

on hubris back, the sense of a graceful
decline. Yes, the lords of the arena called,
they want their two main types of roar returned.

The bargain bins at Lidl called
for the awful cut of that
herringbone skirt. Oil called. It wants its

mystique back, its greasy rainbows
and its incredible profusion. Certain memories
of France called, they want back their faces,

angling and happy and dismissed. Ribs called. They want
their baby back, as do we all. Memory in general also
is being demanding, pointing to some lumpen object

on a platter, covered by a handkerchief.
And all of your pillows called, they want
last summer back, the dry heat

peeling luxuriously away
from ordinary walls in the fine triple-filtered density
of the light. Last summer all over

again. The Iraq War also called, it needs
its riches. A consortium of bedside tables called.
They want their lipsalve and the keys.

Your top ten most visited websites called,
demanding substantial childcare provisions.
Your mother called, also. Your second favourite song is called

‘I Want You Back’. The notion
of passing time is drawing your attention
to a certain sense of lack. We received a fax

from 1991, but couldn’t bear to face it.
Your sense of utter destitution
called. It wants your body back.

Joey Connolly

Poem in Which I Advise on Laundry

Cotton and silk can be got up nicely—but
don’t forget rayon. A semi-synthetic
made from woodchips, it washes and
packs like a dream. You can’t go wrong.
My first love was real.
We spoke just once, to tell our names.

Caution: bleach works for whites
but will fade your recurring patterns
of flowers and stars.
There are alternatives.
These days they’re all using optical brighteners.
They leave your life whole, but make it look better.
My first love was a boy on a bicycle.
Adjust your dosage according to need.
It was by a lake.
Night fell fast, the lights were globes
hung in elegant threes.
If you’d rather forget, try boiling, hard.
Some older marks will not come out.
You may have to cover the ones that show.

To keep your clothes fresh,
get a line to hang them on.
Mine goes all the way back.
He stood very still, over his bike.
Like a dog, it had its own expression.
He had one foot on a pedal,
one on the ground, lamplight on his face.
His friends stopped laughing.
Pegs are not costly.
Experiment till you find some
that will hold in a gale.
He can’t have been more than thirteen.
When our eyes met I was blown away.

Sarah Wedderburn

Poem In Which My Womb Is A Whale

I have tricked my body
*****with small sedate pills
**********like chalk in the sea.

Now it campaigns,
*****heavy weight, duvet
**********breathing dry conditional air,
***************growing wide and white

***************my body is a wall I climb.

*****Dancing stops.

*****I  sleep a lot ––

*****more and more indifferent

**********losing the edge of light.

***************What did that taste like?


Hoping spring is eternal
*******my body breaks out of hospital*****look at the sky and turn blue!         ***********************************************look at the sea and turn gold!
***********************************************look at the sea and turn wet!
***********************************************look at the night and turn dark!
***********************************************look at the moon and turn bright!
***********************************************look at the fruit and turn to wine!
***********************************************look at you and turn into you –

**********if I should swallow a seed or small bird
**********in the pith of this root
*************************which is too much ––

the doctor fires a harpoon
***************kindly in my guts.

**********My womb is a small angry whale !
**********it clenches and cries –

***************I force a wounded truce
***************with the toy army man in me,
***************sharp spike, my fake plastic baby.


Rebecca Varley–Winter Read More

Poem in which no angels dance on the head of a pin


The only physics lesson I ever enjoyed –
copying a diagram of that camera,
with sharp 2B beams of ruler-drawn light
from the top and toe of a stickman, crossing
precisely at the aperture, to invert his image
on the back of the light-proof box: a shrunken
upside-down hangman waiting to be born.



Freaks, the film with the circus performer
Schlitzie, born with microcephaly,
who didn’t need prosthetic makeup
to horrify audiences, ran in a nightmare reel.
So I told myself not to lose the plot:
the pinheads are the goodies,
the normal people are the baddies.



John Travolta, fresh from Grease,
carefully removed from Jackie magazine –
the centre spread de-stapled to excise
any glint of steel, pinned up
to look down from my bedroom wall:
a man who would always have gorgeous hair,
an image worth protecting, worth projecting.

Pin down

My first proper boyfriend liked porn.
He had a trunk full of magazines in the corner
of the bedroom which he kept locked.
Once he cried about his addiction –
but he told me about his fantasy:
the woman he pinned down in the dark,
her physical dimensions shrunken to a pinhole.

Lisa Kelly


I like your shoes….. boots the shade a camel would be proud of new I guess you’re not a walker though sensible even that polka dot drape of scarf is taming.  Our table is officed with your laptop, I the ignored tea girl slump sulky. You claw through layers of thought sediment, finger fracking, ruining the landscape, tapping out a hard silence distracting the stale air you won’t notice me through. I bake a loathing cake and watch it rise over the screen you are face down in. My eyes go walkabout, back up into ideas that tease at my shoulder, evade me when I grab, you their greedy click clicking seductress snatch the shiny ones. Hours gather in cloud clumps, dumb flocks of craggy sheep. The hills are grazing on rolling lambs my attention can not keep velcroed in place, don’t make me poem you to this page just look up, please look at me once so I can forget you.

Barbara Barnes

Poem in which I am wearing a pair of cat eye sunglasses

I am swimming in a pool of yellowy green water wearing a chartreuse one-piece.

I am driving through a ghost town in a pink convertible blasting vintage soul into the dusty air.

I am lying on a pink candlewick bedspread in the black swan motel reading a paperback copy of Flowers in the Attic.

I am drinking Lemon & Paeroa in a café with red formica tables and cracked vinyl barstools.

There is a light brown stain on my lime green bri-nylon minidress.

My hair is showing its unnatural colour at the roots.

I find myself chewing on foiled strands.

I am riding a rusty bike to the foursquare.

I buy four granny smith apples, one royal gala and one unstickered yellow apple.

My hair is lank and greasy so I cover it with a leopardskin headscarf which I twist into a knot on top of my head.

I spend eight hours at work wearing a brown velvet dress with a pair of yellow tights.

I drink coffee from a red paper cup and read gurlesque poetry.

I am listening to 1960’s ye ye singers on a portable record player.

I am at the mall with my friends buying stickers and fake flowers from the two dollar store.

I swing on a swing in the local park in turned up stove-pipes and ballet flats.

I tie a pale blue ribbon around my ponytail.

I buy groceries at the supermarket.

My bed is unmade.

I spend an hour staring out the window at the corrugated iron roof of the house next door.

I look at the i-princesses glittering on-screen.

I am pulling on a rabbit fur cape.

I am casting off kid skin gloves

There is rain outside.

There is gold glitter all over the bedroom floor

The bathroom sink is filled with cut daisies

Sometimes I think of escaping my hometown.

I can imagine us in a field of marigolds.

It’s broken, but I like it here.

Andrea Quinlan

poem in which i love dick

this month i’ve mostly been trying to find a way to make my heart beat slower, moving through train carriages, showing my skin, frowning at men in the street. yesterday i didn’t even feel defeated.

because the city takes things from you, though nothing that you will miss. your whole self, for instance. what it feels like to be crying on the upper level of a double decker bus at seven in the morning is sometimes a nice thing to think about.

imagine sitting opposite you on a train. imagine a beach with stones in the wintertime. now imagine having to live a whole life.

i think so much about my friends and how it seems like i can never help them enough. we can never do enough for anyone. i love so many things that i am tired of.

in ‘i love dick’ by chris kraus, she says, “i want to own everything that happens to me now”. to be in your own body, to be accountable, present. that came as a revelation. somewhere i read the words ‘the dreaded female inner life’, and i thought ‘yes’.

the body is not water and i regret ever saying so. the body has become metaphorical, only something to refer to in poems. but the body is real and underneath.

through the window i see a storm and the rain moves the way a body might, because the body moves in all kinds of ways and the rain moves all kinds of ways. i think of the wildness of the world and the calm that is in me.

Stacey Teague

Poem in which Sleep is a Polyrhythm

‘The average amount of sleep required by an adult is thirty minutes more.’

1. Sleep is a circadian rhythm, which is a roughly twenty four-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes of living entities.

Thirty minutes more of damp sheets and a flaky ceiling. Do I moan about a lucid dream where I lie awake, where I dream about staring at the cracks that stretch from my roof through the walls to the veins in my wrists, and somewhere it is spring? Somewhere the smell of jasmine. Where the train of thought began, ended, was going—if I ever slept.

2. Ultradian rhythms are recurrent periods or cycles repeated throughout a twenty-four hour circadian day, e.g. the 90 to 120 minute cycling of the stages during sleep.

I woke up looking at his face, touched his lips and said jasmine. There are two images in my head; his face and a hedge of flowers. I touch his lips. I say jasmine. Run my finger along his bottom lip, while we both lie there in the bed. Jasmine. When I stop he tells me to do it again.

3. Infradian rhythms occur over a period of time longer than twenty-four hours, for example, seasonal change, tidal cycles and menstruation.

Rhythms ricocheted between body and sleep, the slamming of doors and the cracks up the walls. Inside my furnace the codeine ran out. No thoughts but pulses, no sounds but colours, no colours but one. Red. I’m coiled round my body as to protect, as a hand cradles a candle in the wind. I am cold. I am burning. It is nearly morning.

4. The beginning.

A thin moan drips from my mouth. Wrung like a pair of stained knickers on a clothesline slung between sleep and waking. I break the surface of dreams. Where I see jasmine and run my finger along his lip. A hedge of flowers that I touch while we both lie there in the heat. I stop and he tells me to do it again. Jasmine. He pulls me closer and finally, I sleep, for thirty minutes or more.

Holly Isemonger

Poem in Which I Never Leap Home

And then I’m a test pilot.

I’m set inside this head, inside this helmet,

scrabbling at the panels,

trying to operate my hands.


Each time, lids blink a new rouge;

fingers sift a strange coiffure.

I feel my skull like a path in the dark –

buzzcut, pincurled, bald.


It is a strange brand of drag.

The skins I’ve pinned and bulldog-clipped to fit –

hermit crab in a soda can.

And when I’ve got it right I have to go.


The time I was a society heiress,

I almost had it cracked – the clutch,

the lung-smothering dress,

the infernal heel, toe, heel, toe,


when I leapt to a Texas vet, wrestling piglets.

And I was a professor, elbow-patched and sweaty;

a scribe; a night club dancer.

A drag racer; pitcher; several lovers – oh, boy.


The way I worked them. Each body

littered with instincts.

Each one tailored to the last to go.

I had to adapt. I had to be less myself.


I think about the leap home;

the heart I feel convulsing being my own.

I find the lever and the plane levels.

I wonder if I’d know.


Alex Bell