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THREE POEMS

all my ex boyfriends are having a dinner party

 

comparing their tight obliques

how red their meat hattricks

for their grassroots teams

saying they once had me

in a car how I can never keep

my mouth shut I always

wanted to stay the night

I’m dieting again

burning my hands

sipping low cal miso

on a moving train

I smile at other joggers

like I’m enjoying this

the dentist says I have

yellow teeth his hands

holding my tongue mum said

there is nothing you can’t do

so long as you’re wearing

washing up gloves

a purple leaflet

in the waiting room

asks me if life

has worked out

a) better b) worse

or c) the same

for one thousand

pounds I can fix

my teeth mum

used to ballroom dance

a wooden spoon

weeping with the radio

I’ve been keeping

my fallen eye lashes

in a bag I spit pink

foam into the sink

decide this week

I will eat only eggs

until the days smudge

do the fat burn challenge

pain is a man

in a blue suit

I see people eating

crisps in public

on Mondays

like they have

no guilt

 

 

We girls our names

 

on pink keyrings, him

gargling a shadow outside

dad’s house. He can’t come

in. At the petrol station he

buys a bottle, a cigarette

between us. Christmas stink

swings from the rear-view,

I lean to kiss the blond grit

on his chin, my neck sliced

by the seatbelt. Our scents

quickening, the Lynx hiding

faith, tongues bleached mint.

At 14 I’m all worship, small

knowing, a seal pup in waiting

legs newly slick from dad’s razor.

Later I trap Meg in a cubicle,

tell her it still hurts, orange

foundation masking the

shame of a sink. Walking

home a van honks. I yank

my hem to the ground,

wave.

 

 

Tulips

 

from the market where the tulips are still three quid.

For yourself because you could, and it was important

to remind yourself. Yes, those tulips that start tight

-lipped and upright, those petals will start to lean away

from their own, as you do when a man makes a tulip of

you with his open hand. You know the cat will cry at two.

Some nights you will sleep through your body and other

nights it will fling you upright as though your brother is

dying again. You know what the wine does to your teeth

and about leaving. You know you keep useless things in

case you need to make a shrine. You know you make gods

of men whose toothbrushes sit charging on the counter.

You know this and you let them make an option of your

avocado, rolling it around.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

is a poet and playwright. She has shared work extensively in the UK and internationally. Commissions include the TATE, Penguin, The Guardian and the BBC and she has been featured in Vogue as one of the UK's young poets to watch. Her work has been anthologised, most recently in The Dizziness of Freedom. She was shortlisted for the role of London Laureate in 2018 and longlisted for the 2019 and 2020 Outspoken poetry prize. Her first play Finding Home toured the U.K. for two years. Her latest play Losing the Night is supported by The Arts Council and recently premiered at the Roundhouse, enjoying a sold-out run. She is currently poet in residence at Great Ormond Street hospital and lead tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, a group of 18-25-year-old emerging writers based in London.

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