Into perplexity: as an itch chased round   

an oxter or early man in the cave mouth   

watching rain-drifts pour from beyond   


his understanding. Whether to admire   

the mere sensation, enough, or hold out   

for sweeter ornament, vessels of wonder   


born with that ur-charm of symmetry;   

lovely ones we ache to prize and praise,   

climb into and become because they try   


our day-by-day significance: some of us   

ugly and most of us plain, walked past   

in the drowned streets: pearls of paste,   


salted butter, secondary colors. They   

drift unapproached, gazed never-selves,   

blunt paragons of genetic industry. We   


desire them but cannot want such order.   

We stand, mouths open, and cannot help   

stammering our secrets, nailed to water.

By Roddy Lumsden

The Beautiful

Girls slamming doors means I am filled with the
loss of myself and the brine of myself and the
bursting ridiculous shape of myself and the endless
embarrassing spill of myself, and what did I break


but boys slamming doors means only their own
reverberant exits in flutters of sawdust, putting
hinges out of alignment and shaking floors.

Girls cry from their rooms Come in, I won’t let
you in, Come in,

but boys step out onto streets wearing new, hard
hands, those rackety limbs and sprung joints.
Someone has taught them to try all the world’s
houses, someone has told them every door is
wide open and theirs for the casual slamming.


By Jacqueline Saphra, from All My Mad Mothers, published by Nine Arches Press

The World’s Houses

I wear an oxygen moustache, hating the cold

creep of air into my lungs, but the nurse says

I must keep breathing. I watch the slow clock

of blood through the IV tube, my insides out,

on display , my 'fluid being', my 'wine of life' -

but why would I try to make a poem of this?

I'm nothing more than a few sheets clipped

to a board, my bodily functions monitored

in words that doctors register above my head.

There's no poetry in the hospital gown, worn

thin from the rub of skin, or the urine stench

or how a person dies, without elegy or dirge,

on the other side, just a curtain between us

By Tamar Yoseloff, from The Black Place

published by Seren

Nephritic Sonnet

Submit your own poem to be featured on our Instagram poem competition!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

14 Lordship Ln, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HN

opening hours: Monday - Thursday 10.00-17.00,

Friday & Saturday 10.00-18.00, Sunday 11.00-16.00