[Poetry] — Jenny Sloan


I heard what was not meant to be heard;
An unromantic glitch, a smudge on paint that looked dry.

Unburied heads poke above the paste as
Two childhoods sit in either corner of the cab.
The birthmark on your neck the shape of the Atlantic,
Which has no shape.

Finding Celtic love, or mythic fervour in an empty rugby pitch,
Rainswept, sharing remembered places
In a husky voice with a ballerina posture and a
Cheshire smile.

I thought I saw you yesterday on the train
But it was just someone who looked like you did
When you wore that navy suit frying onions in my kitchen.

You left me here for meat
To meet someone else
As you greet tequila and heroes
And everything you’ve wanted for the past four years
Or everything you feel you need since her.

Fear of

Packing; fear of finding a spider in your suitcase; fear of finding your dead aunt’s poem; fear of reading your poems from five years ago; fear of finding her memory box; fear of seeing the life she had before you; fear of realising it was a better life; fear of

paint crumbling off the ‘newly-painted’ walls; fear of being charged for Blue-Tac marks; fear of using a shower that strangers have used before; fear of all the empty drawers being open; fear of all the closed drawers being empty; fear of

missing your cats; fear of missing your parents; fear of not missing your parents; fear of leaving him; fear of having to live with him for the next eight years; fear of your next phone call; fear of

pubs with carpet; fear of having a kiwi seed stuck between your front teeth; fear of people who have been to Fiji; fear of admitting you’ve only been to France and Spain; fear of

going to Victoria Square with your flatmate from Bournemouth; fear of your flatmate from Bournemouth; fear of being talked about in the kitchen when you’re in the shower; fear of strangers that use the shower; fear of

running into him in the chilled aisle of the Spar; fear of getting a hailstone in your eye when you’re walking home with him; (fear of forgetting how to get ‘home’); fear of wet leaves; fear of falling; fear of

white socks with brown soles; fear of ankle bones; fear of taking your top off; fear of having sex with girls to prove you like girls; fear of the St. Bridget’s cross falling apart; fear of the Pope; fear of green; fear of

old women (especially Mrs Mills from The Others); fear of an old woman chasing you around McClay; fear of looking into the mirror and seeing an old woman looking back;

fear of red felt tip pens; fear of what you’ll find in old books; fear of what you’ll find in new books; fear of nobody being able to read your handwriting; fear of writing and writing and writing nothing at all; fear of

Nothing. fear of empty suitcases pretending they’re packed, fear of packed suitcases pretending they’re empty, fear of being, becoming, leaving, having, seeing or believing in nothing.

Postcards for you when we no longer speak

Ice melts, breaks from snow,
Like islands drifting slowly.
I walk over worlds.

Will make me myself again.
Two every four hours.

Remembering you
Competing with Oscar Wilde –
With your Vodka breath.

Hopping overseas,
A frog from Honduras with
Remembered gospels.

Smiling in my sleep –
Neon electric outside –
Waking at midnight.

The one where you smile –
Looking back through old photos –
There was only one. 

Neat, fluffy pillows,
Pale blue guest towels, a notebook,
And a big mirror.

Smile because you think
Your friends will love sun houses,
Land that isn’t theirs.

She never shuts up
Until her swollen lungs ache
Screaming your bullshit.

I first noticed her
Gliding through the Belfast streets
In eighties splendour.

It made me wonder
How I live, with you dying
An ocean away.

*All work is the property of the author and is distributed with their permission

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