City of Departures

When I stepped out of the house the air held rain, the scent of it, the taste. The light was bruised and yellowish. A blackbird was singing, very clearly, his song amplified by the coming rain. The scene felt familiar, already lived-through. The caption was Morning in the city of departures. I was walking through […]

We Lived Happily during the War

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we protested but not enough, we opposed them but not enough. I was in my bed, around my bed America was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house— I took a chair outside and watched the sun. In the sixth month of a disastrous reign in […]

The Night Watch

It’s 1 a.m. and someone’s knocking at sleep’s old, battered door – and who could it be but this boy I love, calling for me to come out, into the buckthorn field of being awake – and so I go, finding him there no longer talking – but now crying and crying, wanting to be […]

Eurofighter Typhoon

My daughters are playing outside with plastic hoops; the elder is trying to hula, over and over – it falls off her hips, but she keeps trying, and the younger is watching and giggling, and they’re happy in the bright afternoon. I’m indoors at the hob with the door open so I can see them, […]

The Window

after Marie Howe Once in a lifetime, you will gesture at an open window, tell the one who detests the queerness in you that dead daughters do not disappoint, free your sore knees from inching towards a kind of reprieve, declare yourself genderless as hawk or sparrow: an encumbered body let loose from its cage. You […]


I was reading my book by the window waiting for you when I noticed one flower of those you’d artfully splayed had snapped. Like a limp wrist the orange gerbera hung, and over my knuckle it vented a beige gunge. As I snipped the stem for a smaller vase, the glow of the radiant petals […]

Forty Names

I Zib was young. Her youth was all she cared for. These mountains were her cots. The wind her wings, and those pebbles were her friends. Their clay hut, a hut for all the eight women, And her father, a shepherd. He knew every cave and all possible ponds. He took her to herd with […]


Me? I get up early, see. I like the hour or so before the cars arrive, the city sleeping there over my shoulder, the early morning sky that is all mine, a few gulls spelling Mmmm out with their bodies. I make the most of that because, by nine, I bear the city’s weight here […]

Comic Timing

I went to Ilford on my own walked up a dual carriageway to McDonald’s for a cup of tea and a think then went back to the clinic with half a blueberry muffin in my pocket I was handed a white laminated square with a number on it I will be called by the number […]

Highbury Park

In the woods at night men are fucking amongst the gorgeous piñatas of the rhododendrons, the avenue of cool limes. By day I walk my son down the secret pathways, smell the salt rime of sex on the wind, a condom glowing with blossomy cum, knotted and flung; I bury it gently under the moss […]

Front Door

In through the translucent panels of the front door stained with roses here and there their green stems wander sun patterns the cavernous hall with rose outlines the wood paneled box came sharp-cornered the TV so heavy to look at it cut into my clavicle was it full of cannonballs and was it carried on […]

Significant Other

A cloud takes on the shape of a tortoise. The tortoise can never repay the gesture. Unashamedly, its owner once believed that it answered hello in its reptilian hiss as she once believed that he, who delighted her body, delighted her body only. Did the creature ever think a thought her way? The tortoise snaps […]

Happy Birthday Moon

Dad reads aloud. I follow his finger across the page. Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space. He makes the Moon say something new every night to his deaf son who slurs his speech. Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space. Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t […]


A gentleman began to shout into the back garden It wasn’t in the days when we had mobile phones. He asked us if we could telephone his mum and let her know that he was okay. He was very pale, very upset. I said, ‘Of course you can, of course you can’ After that, there […]

Your Body

Your body is a photograph of migrants who arrived by boat, each eye a cabin with a taut iron bed and silver gromits looking out to sea. I am the passenger with a wide-brimmed hat, perhaps a butcher from Manchester, or a teacher from Perth, unmarried, in love with the poets who write of the […]

I Want a Poem

I want a poem with the texture of a colander on the pastry. A verse of pastry so rich it leaves gleam on your fingertips. A poem that stings like the splash of boiling oil as you drop the pastry in. A poem that sits on a silver plate with nuts and chocolates, served up […]


A brick-sized block of grey stone washed ashore on which was carved the word SAY. My dad picked it up at low tide and two months later found another, and another saying LES. We worked out that rather than a command – like Rilke’s flow – it was the name of an old firm, SAYLES, […]

The Republic of Motherhood

I crossed the border into the Republic of Motherhood and found it a queendom, a wild queendom. I handed over my clothes and took its uniform, its dressing gown and undergarments, a cardigan soft as a creature, smelling of birth and milk, and I lay down in Motherhood’s bed, the bed I had made but […]


Here’s my body in the bath, all the skin’s inflamed trenches and lost dominions, my belly’s fallen keystone its slackened tilt – for all the Aztec gold I’d not give up this room where you slept, your spine to my right, your head stoppered in my pelvis like a good amen – amen I say to my […]

And death demands a labor

When it rains in Boston, from each street rises the smell of sea. So do the faces of the dead. For my father, I will someday write: On this day endeth this man, who did all he could to craft the most intricate fears, this man whose waking dreams were of breaking the small bones […]