Two poems by Fran Lock

poem for an ideal reader

“how to create through writing an enduring extinction”- Miyó Vestrini

reader, accomplice in a thought crime,  sway,
witless, to my severest music. i will go away.
i will go where the air is clean. for a long time:
a crisis that renders all our disappointments
fatal. the lipstick, fatally smudged, the dress shirt,
fatally creased, the electric fan, fatally misdirected.
reader, i desire you how the poem desires you:
erratically, and forever. with teeth. you, fleshscape,
me, david croneberg. to incite your extinction,
over and over, that mixtape mumble. confusion
reigns. this, capital’s ideal carnality, love in
the precinct of monster gods, of men with gills,
of women with webbed earlobes. whatever.
there are pigeons befouling the lcd signs.
to be written into oblivion against necessity
in an angry font, all caps. and all the lemon-
coloured birds our sky is starved of. country,
wild and imprecise. persistence? pah! mess
of soft bones vulnerable to vertigo.
an ambulance, moaning like a melancholy
organism. early morning hours make
priests of us all. don’t give me your lust,
your dishevelled clemency.  finger under
a collar. come convulsively to grief.
there are cliques whose kiss is after
all a mute defrauding. what i want
from you is no longer love. there is no daring
to your desire, dear. i want you ungainly,
diseased. i want you, self-important ugliness;
that heat, that saccharine hostility. i want
your trembly rage over petty things, all,
all of your kitschy syndromes and gestures.
a colossal mistaking, want. oh, to say
shit you rather than fuck you, is my highest
ideal. i thought about blinding myself,
to be released from this storm of seeing.
the eye as an attack surface, keeps
filling me up with you. i want the tundra,
to be becalmed in your tedious green.
unfold me for my fortunes along each
sweating crease.




citizen citizen

“The catastrophe is not coming, it is here.” – The Invisible Committee.

woke, exfoliated cold, sat and waxed
her professional body. today, no more
decrees. only eulogies and anecdotes,
anthologies and manuals. to menace
with a series of sexless grunts, the kitten
faces of her readers. a poem is an advert,
what it’s selling is the future. even our
ghosts are correcting their period
costumes. the traitors. but fucker,
the dead understand that there is
still an alchemy to error. in a muted
light a soft-core wrongness prevails.
the editor is a white rabbit with
a hypnotist’s watch.  she must not
remember: the years of infamous
hunger, a flickering city, an enlarged
liver dying on a trolley. why bother?
sit instead, premeditate a common-
place all afternoon. communicate,
they said. such useful art. a word
is abject chamomile. weak heat
for shallow wounds. fucker, she says,
you insomniac smut-peddler, pepsi-
cola spokesman, hawking your spiteful
pulp. king xerox, pharaoh eating honeyed
locusts from the pages of a fanzine.
before the awards are given, she fusses
her narrow skin, the mirror’s vigilante.
is neither one thing nor the other.
they said, for years. and now each
metaphor, a cherry-ripe obscenity.
they said, they said. from nights
of balmy adolescent privilege,
holding an iphone six like a frog
prince. snivelling collective we.
and they said, and they said.
the pretend contempt of judges;
the prim intemperance of post-
doctoral lushes. a laugh like heavy
furniture being dragged inexpert.
she says: fucker, all names are dead.
poetry is digging shit with a golden
shovel.  you falsifiers, patting
yourselves down for imperfections,
night after night. fucker, fuckers
of inflatable consciences, if your
eyeliner is inseparable from your
politics then you’re not a comrade:
you’re canned air sold for a buck
ninety-nine, you’re a hair clot cut
from drains, you’re banal and explicit
and anything scrawled on the night.
she says she remembers: a blatant
hell, priest with his seamless
conjugal philosophy, his weepy
scriptures about nothing; the nuns
as white as laboratory mice,
lifting their pink eyes to a trophy
ceiling. where pure and intact
mean precisely the same. fuck
you, she was multiply sullied here.
and a body isn’t optional. it’s gristle,

marat, etc. by Fran Lock

to admire only the razor’s solicitous dexterity, here in the half-light
cast by the loving of you. unswervable blessing, this love, this timid
word i rip along its scalloped edges. i’ll observe a rare and crouching
grace for you. old woman, rendered squat with prayer. and cover all
opinionated instruments, their glow agrees a milky grief that trails
its sleeves through snow. i’ve no use for numbers now. the clock is
diagnosing midnight, loudly in the hall. this clouds the issue so, when
here you come! full of fledgling suddenness. the gulls arrive en masse.
measure of feather against your ghost. pillow, you puzzle sleep. dream,
my utmost undesire. to admire your wrist, wrapped in its own retreat.
your hair, our tamest gold. and how your eye is winkled into radiance,
so wet and black and sly. i have leaned into the loving of you. i learnt
the names, committed your strict meat to memory. luxurious carnivore,
my least pronounceable animal. the grist and shuck and treyf of you.
your red specifics. squeamish, obedient teacup bone. the baffled curl,
the circuit short. i leaned into this learning, and the wrecked blade
ran aground. little ship. storm glut, your ribs are driftwood. first of
all my dead, marred and stretched, and here at your hungering limits,
kissed. morning makes its broken approach, dragging itself by
the fingernails. beatific pesticide, this light, this shrunk and fluttering
holiness. to admire the stricken, the ricochet, the warped hormonal
loom of you, and the mouth downcast, the pen in a lax hand, pretender
to the blank page. where nothing is written. you’ve written nothing.

from new work “exploded / view” by Fran Lock

today / my thoughts are furies / today has moved / in tight circles like a hungering dog / you’ve hovered / a toxic ghost / from the high battlements / of your hairdo / embattled hairdo / keratin crisp / letting down / the rope ladder of your logic / i am afraid but forget / how to speak / you like my smile / you said / my yellow crumbled tooth a crown / and now / and now / let us confront the deforested page / a story is stripped of its princess / and i am / a beautiful despot / a sugar mammy with snakes for hair / six cylinder bitch / you said / how i love nothing now / my thin fingers overthink their critical snap / click! / am i getting through? / d’ yous ken at all? / and i had you / at hello / i believe in nothing / but my own bare feet / stood / in the kitchen / braced for impact / my skin confesses its blemishes / summer’s sweltering depthless real / or rhine wine in a mermaid light / and poems / the bible empties itself of israelites / they schlep / across the page like ants / the red sea parts / the eye decides who will be spared / no one is spared / an eye is an angel of death / dressed / in a waste / of pink silk / wings / from the satiny lap / of clubland / am i getting through? / there were so many versions of me / so many versions of you / you / were making a masque of my inbox / and i should be / flattered / how a sacred hare might / honour a headlight / you frighten me / utmost monarch of radiant terrors / did you stand outside / at the reading? / did you follow me home? / did the torch move over / the darkness / a child’s finger / tracing a name on dirty glass / there’s a holiness that fame confers / you said / a cartoon sanctity / collective grief / these clothes climbed onto my back today / i did not / cannot / dress myself / elect of all expendable things / exceptional things / invisible things / your praise / or your contempt / these are my principal magnets / stars like scattered wits regrouping / heaven remade / in our own / animal / image / oh / to be precious and championed / oh / moth to the smooth hurt of a hot bulb / oh / i see you / stretching your smile / obscene bunting / at a fascist birthday / the world is wearing / obelisks and reliquaries / the world / is wearing thin / we are / peacocking our squalor at passing traffic / poetry / flicking an intimate switch / you said / some pains absolve no one / at the turn / of a stair / in the dark / a soiled glyph / i wrote my name / a girl / you said / sucked you like a snake bite / the pockets of your ugly coat / have bitten your hands / off at the wrist / and this / my most / unprofitable skin / i was charles darwin / dragging a knuckle / i was / carnal and simian / you said /terraformed the surface / of my twin moons / mute and nude / moot and nude / proley girl white / as creamed bleach and canned laugher / wade in a waltz / in sequins and chiffon / pandemic lust / you dynamite me with / again / and again //

#2 father / figure by Fran Lock

safe house / say / fuh / house / an argument climbs / into the plushy cockpit / of my mouth / the received wisdom / of a stiff drink / where the wall is fraught / with slogans / in the out of town / crematoria / an ecstasy of ashes / say / fuh / pair of hands / to tuck you in / to fuck you up / to tighten the bolt / in your neck / little monster / electrically / alive / and we’re falling down / nursing a nursery fate / like london bridge / the way / monotonous bodies in space conform / to the limp math / holding / the universe together / strong force / weak force / the symbols snuggle up / spoon in their shallow / brackets / you are not you / are not / you / drip your canonical honey / i parse my sickle traits / my phobic blood / i love you unto empty / there’s a shame that fits / tight to my body / like the skin / of an apple / you float / in the centre of my headache / in another woman’s belly / a baby / beings / a presumptuous rise / precarious bread / of heaven yet / i discover myself in a doorway / bridges alert with lights / and a light / rain prickles the skin of an apple / the skin of a dark pond / a partial mania / i hold this poem / like a note to the light / watermark / we mark the water / enter here / inter / her //

on boundaries by Fran Lock

‘The great function of poetry is to give us back the situations of our dreams’- Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space.

in rooms tumescent mirthless heat. time skew. missequencing. omen formation.
the boundaries we make with ritual. the boundaries we make with meaning. we
like to think we are free. it is dark. being blind is like being naked. clear a space.
white spire of flowers we crush a silence of  varieties. missequencing in broken
windows. small discords experienced as whispers. intrusive thoughts. dyslexic
lobes will part the light like lips. your lips. a kiss. a torch. circles of influence,
love’s impatient centrifuge. hold me. by which you mean synchronise. small
buoyancies displace the dark we sink the candles into. in rooms. time skew. this
was our house. omen formation, rarely seen in adults. omen formation is a belief.
there were warning signs that predicted the trauma. it is a belief. listed buildings,
magical thinking.


light moves at the same speed in any direction. if i was travelling at the speed of light
i wouldn’t see my own face in the mirror, and life is like that. catastrophic immanence
awaited daily. low barking surrounds the hour. a siren’s shrieking religionless knell.
a sky that’s infantile with fireworks. i am winding watches like god. kids whose faces
are anvils of unluck. towns beset by orbital gormlessness, swollen with petrochemical
steroid. engines reverence engines. an evensong of handbrake turns. joyriding. without
the joy. the planet’s heating up. and donald trump will make a soiree of extinction.
doesn’t talk in sentences, but bumper stickers. psychotic with sincerity. wants to make
love to the world. david fucking berkowitz. do your thoughts assume the shape of a giant
insect, of a black dog? alone in the maundering ordinary failed at everything. my eating
disorder, a renaissance of ruined teeth i make perversion out of protein. the severe plenty
of settled life, the garden gagged in plastic. light moves. bad brains bloated on bad news.
amateur savant, spatial waste. vomits like a dog that eats its vomit. community violence. doom.
missequencing. ten men dead saves our lead. after the invention of gravity, nineteen sixteen
was mostly downhill.

the meek will inherit their god, his tongue like a tattered
coat. the family, cold and paupering, gathering in corners
a red morning is deserted. eyes to the broken climate. our
flesh bittered. forensic melancholy: culture. it’s anything
you dig from earth.

in rooms. recent hygienes, disconcerted calories. the on-going genocide
of bathroom germs. i must cut carbs to trump a falling feather. on the beach
in black denim. a starchy exertion. sweat. three pairs of tights. an indifference
that is like monogamy. boundaries. a name is a place of trespass. i have my
father’s eyes. green flints that fail the turing test. the fruit here is less toxic
and more rotten. oh, my omnidirectional sense of shame! present myself to
the fan-girling multitude. here i am! in my dreams i can declare myself, i
can beat the computer at chess. the sea remains upon my lips like a lovely
name. airport. england. men with luddite buttonholes howling how they
died for you. the pulse’s soft homing. the camp we made at glandore. no
one died for me. in rooms. it gets worse. a scream is clenched inside
a velvet mouth meaning night the night’s velvet reflex. boys who stabbed
a man for cigarettes. saturday has amphetamine breath, a jittery inclination.
the pencil-necked dependants in the park. i wish the pain would stop.
my hopeless platelets, white like paper boats and floating doomed. and
it gets worse every day. the blue electric drips on regent street as angels
open up like wet umbrellas. a prayer to a saint with a fragrant name.
method acting my salvation. omen formation. is a word that tastes
like breaking. skinny wrists bemoan my bangles. there are no other
places. the future is a straight line i find offensive. clever girl, fawning
at a border with her deadpan erudition: a word might tell us who we are.
on how many levels are your poems working? there is no ancestry. only
now. the exhaustible geography of grievance. unmoored acre of green
after green. there is nowhere to go. there is no go. naming doesn’t dance.

you can’t reduce this grief to a dumb crush of mileage. life is a journey.
midday sun like a brick through the window. the scuff and thaw of verges,
horses, indiscriminate dogs. an iridescent urgency to everything. tipsy
sea of candles. we used to live here. we used to live. an irredeemable
pub. hectic fuchsia. your life is not the road. the squalid diction of small
towns. the musicless startle of fists in a rural night. your life is your life
is your face, exceptional in searchlights. omen formation. manifest destiny.
black mountains banded together like a lynch mob…

hemisphere of shadows by Fran Lock

baby, doom’s slender evangelist, you came out of the night. out of my own
snaggletoothed imbalance, you came, when the black balloon was terror’s
chosen metaphor, and the black balloon was everywhere. no one knew
the world was ending. buttonholes predicted poppies; red kept getting on you,
with its shamefaced sensibility. history had carved a cruel act out of flesh. we
were taking refuge in a wound. it’s friday, with r.e.m. on the radio. dejected
data. clickbait, interpreted like entrails. money, our skinny green disease. i’m
typing pay me what you owe me, you mouldy posho fuck, but no, i know, he
never will. somewhere, over the rainbow’s phobic pouting spectrum, there is
a place for us. a french café in soho. free wi-fi, and my bandwidth is a parachute,
the signal sings a rainbow too. reading jeremy, his similes like sequins. screen
burn. the eye’s unsplendid choreography, black dots. my need to sleep is a flea
circus. baby, disaster approaches with its long tongue out like a dog. and you
came out of the night, out of the sky. white light  declares a ghost, debates a bird.
sky unset, rinsed of egotistical weather. walking through the square, a kid in chubby rubber boots beneath his numbered days. nobody knew the world was ending, not
the callow american youth, adrift in self-esteem, not the haircuts of the cold idea that puts you to sleep for a million years. they told me writing was greed by other means, a constant sucking up of everything that isn’t me. which is true: i read victorian
and incorporate the crossbones out of it. it’s what the mad do. sky, indiscriminate
sky, an indifferent equality and i am in the supermarket: meat’s dismembered
motley, glucose, a woman in a hairnet varnishing a star. baby, it’s all too much.
sweetness twists a tooth with pliers. embrace your broken body. all spokes.
impractical as bagpipes…


baby, daylight congeals a dress, bookshelves, blue bowl, sleeping dog. oh,
zopiclone, the tyrant eye won’t close. thought, then. inevitable nicotine, my
misfit tendency, black mud. i’m so strong. i’m ill-equipped for trembling.
see how the gilded fat slides from the candle. red and gold. seagulls. my shrill
decline. the morning doubly shrieked. my lust is a landfill. and in the dirty
sink, a spider. broken lotus. folded like a guru. how many eyes? a row
of them, a band, like gems in an engagement ring. spider, dark tent, guyed
and staked. drowsing, gouched. i run the water, rinse her velvet metrics to
extinction, half afraid. and still. her shimmer clings. the spooling vein runs
silver under dusty crocks of flesh. and we may not have much time.
atomically beleaguered world. oh, marry me. i’ll jump
your zombie bones. kiss me on my spreadlegged gender, on
my copy of the nationalist. we’re going to die. the comet
preaches impact, blows momentums kiss at russia, texas,
the shimmering phlegm of the serpentine…

baby, how to practice the ethics of forgetting. mechanic of anxiety,
1. how to tell him that it matters: his smile like a crack in a wine glass;
his body, asemic savour of small hairs. coupled. uncoupled. between
link and lack. poise a pen and threaten permanence;  blink and imply
disappear. burning a boy like a lean brown candle for years. we don’t
forget. we resurrect the dead, conjured out of coffins, white rabbits
leaping lucky-footed from a magic hat. he said you old corpse
whisperer, you. prickling increments of text i summon up grim nekyia,
calling forth in repetitious shifts the dead like nurses. i stretch event
until it snaps. modernity, her barbarous shebang. i imagine being mary.
and i imagine eating oranges, reclassifying planets: to lesser moon, to
fruit. i’m mary and i am on the stairs going oh! oh! oh! the reeling
lustre of spring. feeling fizzy. pithed the atom. iodined the sky.
let’s play! i want to know everything. my eye stoops to the keyhole,
my fingers conjure the brush. i’m biting. he is so big in his ozone
of fur i’m running. climbs the stair. he calls my name to no lumbering
avail. a bear is slow, with blood like soup. i’m a shark! i’m in my
swerving element. all teeth, my skin a yet more grievous mouth.
madness – unlike naming – is a truth you cannot step in twice…


baby, if i move i will explode. stiff. rigid with a nail’s ague, inwardly
screaming. drink milk, a blank page the body tolerates. not mine. what
day is this? what year? should make some art. should – crayons. a caught
and difficult world imprisoned in a tissue like a sneeze. keep it in.
that idiot is president and moaning overflows the mouth. an armoured boot,
parading on a windpipe for all time. i can’t get breath enough, open
the house like a swiss army knife, all doors and windows. i want to be
smooth as a sucked pebble. clean, if the world can’t be. you come out
of the night. harbinger, stag mask, irrational with antlers. love,
a remnant dread we suck like a knuckle. when there’s nothing else
left, when there’s nothing else left…


this sequence of poems grew out of letters sent as part of my “gentle reader” project:

cohort by Fran Lock

there will be no poetry.  i will not rise in light the colour

of medical waste, with blood’s black cartridge low on ink,

to sing the aggrotastic wassail of working-class catchment;

to sing the asymmetric faces of all those truant youth who

dined on fire. there will be no poetry, or only for those

petrol-headed prodigies of somnolence, boys on gaunt

corners, solanine and gobshite, gasping in alleyways, their

hands sweating currency at three a.m. when blue light

bathes the deviated streets like tiger balm. if there is poetry,

it will be in the lowbrow necromancy of estates, terraces that

shape themselves from bloated gloaming, broken windows;

chain-smoking and pallid stagnation; from crude, two-

fingered benedictions, dispensed by holy idiots. if i sing,

i will sing for the boys whose lisping chivalries the upright

boroughs shun for fear of plague; for frail and vacant boys,

howling in a solvent ague, chafing, baste in sweat and wasted

again through all the hungry hours we knocked on wood to.

my boys, who, keening in the paralytic standstill after curfew,

balk at love’s fraudulent portion, when summer’s heat defrosts

a sorry longing in the heart. do you understand? for the boys

whose raw, shop-lifted nerve trembles with desperate jetlag;

whose breath is a silvery pesticide, who wear a chemically

tenderized skin. there will be no poetry, unless for them,

folding in their locust limbs in doorways, treating their

secrets with bleach in cemeteries underneath the cherry

blossom. boys who break in grimy waves along the south

bank of the thames, their narrow backs arching like bardic

harps, who walk in staggered jackets, the tired, unvaried

tedium of august; who crawled the body’s slow-witted

acre, pining in a forest, on a carpet of needles, ostracised,

besotted; their yellow faces caving in like sandcastles, brains

behaving like hydrogen. this is the music of my witness.

friends i have lost to the maledicted mufti of unemployment

blackspots. boys, whose stooped regalia gave them away,

dressed in poverty’s erring fashion: ashy face and earring;

friends, whose desolated smiles disgorge a hardboiled fist

of stars, an anti-english spit embracing broken teeth. these

are the boys with numb lips bending local cant like spoons,

swept up in grief’s swooning pheromone, horny and crooning,

a little in love with violence, fizzing with an aggravated

lambency, forsaking clinics for brixton, the lairy aquarium

light of bars, of clubs. boys, whose sooty humour groomed

itself in station toilets; lived by hooch, by gear, and by the

wheedling grammar of an underpass at elephant. i will sing

for them, as they fall between london’s grim chimneys;

the shrill and mildewed air of social housing, days spent

nursing hung-over hemispheres, digesting regret in the

microwavable guts of melamine kitchens. cold potatoes,

newsprint on the fingers. there will be no poetry if not for

a limping, malingering kiss; for afternoons immense with

vendetta, the hoary feuds they bristled with in car parks

and in stairwells; courting the moribund alchemy of smack

or of meth or jellies, downed with vodka’s dicey clarity.

a neat buzz they tilt at windmills. i will sing this song, no

other. this city does not want them, its poetry a tide of

numbers, zeroes replenished like dry martinis, like artisan

coffee, a cool you’d split your lip on. a cup you crumple

into waste; the dregs they’ve scried the depths of. this

city does not want us, who file like black ants along

the crisp green edge of need, who are naked inside of

need’s skirmishing velocity, who come apart at the speed

wet paper tears. there will be no poetry. you cannot cross

my palm and reconcile a coin. i bear my misaffection

like a grass’s scar. i wear disgust like a velvet glove…


this one goes out to martyn: saint, martyr, satyr, waking

lame to monday’s malnourished perdition; dizzied by

the business end of inquisition, at the hospital, the job

fare, his illiterate skill dismissed where men count up

his felonies like calories. his arms are ink and inhibited

uptake. the suits recoil from pasty slang, the bravado

of hard time pulled like teeth from a busted mouth

that slurs its larcenous melancholy; his lips wear white

blisters, baccy burns like seed pearls, semi-preciously

encrusted, a treasury of eczemas. this is his song, who

makes vocation of his cravings, climbing panic like

a ladder to benzedrine epiphany. he’ll say he’s chasing

safety, not bliss, in an opiated arcady; swirling a drunk

shadow like a matador; a listless icarus whose thin

wings rustle into fire between nicotine fingers. what

clocks will stop for him? for any of these refugees,

our symptomatic heartland banging gavels in our sleep.

for boys whose persecuted synapse is an arrow shot at

space, who have no inside voice, who fill with more

exile than with cunning. martyn, who’d stamp

love’s squealing tyranny with steel-toed d.m boots.

martyn: scuppered, not stricken in grief, unlovely, in

the wincing dereliction of his shame, a peace he

pawned for sodden pleasures, saturdays, lobotomised

and luddite, his wrists in the philistine slings of self-

harm, sickly and grimacing. who stops a clock for

him? for bed’s defeatist furrow, days upon end, who

listens to the drip of a leaking tap, all through winter’s

fidgeting vicissitudes, with no money for the meter,

inhaling a stark heat up through smoke. martyn, in

a disowned ambiance of damp plaster, scutty linen,

excuses worn with sheets and soles, and scaling

peaks of spiking fever while his kidneys cease to

function. while his liver ceases to function. whose

all or nothing cohort lives by creeds of calamity

or dominion, with fuck all in between. our

instruments agree. i’ll stop this clock for you. for

all of us. stop time’s blind clamour dead in its

groping tracks. depression curls us in on ourselves

like trigger fingers; balled on the  floor like dead

wasps, like nothing i can throw a motor-mouthed

metaphor at. instead i hollow out a place to fold

your name like paper. martyn, yes. and all the rest.


and who would torture poems out of this? poem as

a trichophobic eyelash tweezered from the red rim

of wakefulness. there is no poetry, only the dream,

pulled from sleep’s stuttering pre-history; the dream,

polluting the pillow like hotel lavender, the reek

of week old sweat. i rise through this, peel back

the full-fat skin of morning, reeling an unclassified

exhaustion, scent of petrol and wet heather. i rise,

boil kettles into breathlessness, and watch kestrels

aviate on unmade wings the bosky fields and scrubland.

i do not sing. i do not speak. affinity is only telepathic

habit, a redundant and encumbered love that will not

change the world. oh boys, who vanished over a lean

extremity of water, stirring a sulphate dust in your

veins, skirling, and flirting the limits of extinction,

when sky is oblong lilac vivisected tissue teased

to atomic splendour over the underpass. and the

white star line, and the blackrock road, with sun

and moon and space dust flaunting the stupored

ceiling over divis, the botanic gardens, queen’s quarter,

red brick houses coddled by curfew, and the boys

nodding out in the student union bar they went to

cadging coin. i do not sing, i cannot, for those who

gave up life to boneless vertigo, fritzing in the pristine

light of hospitals, retching black emetic against

memory. for those who spun their saturated disciplines

in london clubs, in pubs, in the gutters they groped

for stars. who danced the night’s misshapen shellac,

then walked the hairline crack of camden canal at six

a.m. boys, who are gone in mind, not far, but deep,

screaming in the killjoy iridescence of headlights,

whose vocabulary is choking, whose tongues

retarded turbo-folk, an ill-intended psalm. i cannot

sing, unless my song is leaving. unless my song

a disappointed seed i sow and grow a better love

than this for all my ugly impotence. and if i sing, say

this: that i am you. girl, whose contrariness is crutches;

who tried to be bigger than herself on days when fear’s

slow-moving motive pointed all knives inwards. oh boys,

who loved a mainlined radiance holy, the dreaded

head-rush, high on sunday’s wire. disoriented sorceries.

when we would sing together, when we would sack

abandoned streets for charity and silence. haggard,

clamant, knowing only what we ran from: priests,

phone-tapping bogeys, the god-bothered prerogatives

of home. which is only broken. which is never whole.

i am you. cold girl, inclined to armour. but you would

risk intoxication’s promise on a dare. this is for you,

a voice whose weight will sprain your wrist. the brick

in the fist. the one we are born with. there will be no