A Golden Shovel
the end times in numbers: 4 horsemen 1 cancelled judgement day 1 giant rip through the sky 1 ocean brimming with plastic 1 people at risk remember self-care! pumice from the endless eruptions is effective on dry arms. steaming pyres also have a cleansing effect on skin, if you have any left. have a blackout […]
after Kate Bingham I learnt that words don’t mean anything, That your hands do all the talking. I learnt that you don’t always have to tell the truth And I learnt that there’s always a loophole To weasel your way through. I learnt how to take offence at an inanimate object And how to play […]
there are worse things to be. i could be, for instance, dying, or alive, but just enough to be taking up space. i could wade through a body that does not belong to me. yes, i could ravage, rumble, sour your milk, bite your children, poison your evening news. i could enlist my grandparents to […]
Hannah is commended in the Poetry and Political Language Challenge on Young Poets Network, in partnership with the Orwell Youth Prize.
Emma is commended in the Poetry and Political Language Challenge on Young Poets Network, in partnership with the Orwell Youth Prize.
Content warning: grief
Content warning: rape
Rian is a commended Foyle Young Poet in 2019. They wrote and judged August Challenge #4: The Spoken Word Challenge on Young Poets Network in 2020.
Jessica is the second-prize winner in August challenge #4: The Spoken Word Challenge on Young Poets Network.
Evelyn Blythe is the third-prize winner in August Challenge #4: The Spoken Word Challenge on Young Poets Network.
this is the moment skeletons became atheists. gold lodged in the back of throats and stuck, rigor mortis like you never had a chance. and maybe the soup tastes like corpses, or maybe the soup tastes like god. or like angels, and cracks in the barbed wire. because skeleton is a synonym for survivor, in […]
The sky reddening like an unbruised body— and you, gone for days now, calcified in this unshed nightmare where the tiger is closing its teeth over your wrist again, dozens of rabbit carcasses littering the halls again, tiger slipping quiet through the nights, […]
Somewhere out there is a statue of me where my face isn’t as long, my sadness shorter. I meet with her head-on. I tell her to turn in the direction of the power ballads and the attractive folks that sing them. I’ve just seen a face, says Paul McCartney in the middle of 1965, and […]
Halfway through the horror movie, the lights give out, the whole city held under a blanket. Turning the other cheek. Some phantom hand finds mine. I will learn to love you softly is what the house would say, its belly emitting a quiet dust rumble, drops in the kitchen sink like fingers drumming a wooden […]
I The mini liberators of women, hoisting those hems to the Heavens, giving their legs room to breathe. II The silver capped scholars, keeping those iridescent specimens in place for little curious eyes. III The diligent sewers’ stabilisers, holding together linen squares so they can stitch their designs to life. IV The silent supporters, presenting […]
Body lies on the bottom step. How did it get there? we ask. Body is bloody. Hair matted. Nails dirty. Body ’s hand falls near the light. We are glad Body has made no mess. Clean fall. No Body would notice. What should we do? Body says rug. Wrap me […]
Jasmine is the first-prize winner of August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network.
Ottavia is the third-prize winner of August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network.
Lauren is a top 15 winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020, and is commended in August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network.
Iqra is commended in August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network.
Joan of Arc and I lay head-to-head in the wash of a meadow frothing Queen Anne’s lace like a corrupted lung. Her fingers dabbling my palms like water, that martyr and I speak of our own voices: mine, stolen; hers given like a sack of entrails. Did the voices twitch, I ask, did they wriggle […]
For Wilfred Owen Contains strong language our bodies ache on the streets where we rattle plastic cans for change we watch the flocks of low drooping eyes scuttle by like brambles in the north wind we have become part of the scene patient hopeful crying out but nothing happens on the corner a preacher […]
I saw Humphrey Bogart in a train station, Crewe, three o’clock in the morning, and he looked as faded and grey as I felt stumbling half asleep off the late service. When I was ushered out the doors, he was just there by the taxi rank, leant up on a pillar, smoking, lit up […]
You may know Jesus. That preacher/teacher/healer/magic man with the clear silt skin. You may have seen him around town, raising the dead and making friends. Maybe he cleaned up your acne, maybe he showed you the gold humming of God. Take a look at his Tumblr: @carpentryqween. 1/? Jesus is a rebel leader/activist/socialist/pacifist and last […]
“Do you not know I am a woman?”(Act III, scene ii, As You Like It) My lover and I no longer speak. We leave notes in the mist on one another’s eyes. Once, he carried me through fields of sheep when I began to doubt that softness could be born. My lover doesn’t see the […]
Delhi, 2020 Delhi today is like a dried-out battleground / after one final revolution. Sentries in khaki thrash / young men on peculiar vehicles / for something I don’t understand. I hide my sewed-up face / in dark alleys; people look at me from the other side of their windows / scared. I’d have […]
Show me your teeth, God. Tonight, at the Apple Store under the unshut moon. Visit me tonight, God. Fog this spirit mirror with your Word — blind me with this new handheld eclipse. Oh, but my head sings with standing so long as the marrow of this sun-bleached bone. Church as mirage. Along its aisles […]
Ferenc II Rákóczi was a Hungarian aristocrat who led rebellions against the Habsburg empire in the early 18th century. He is widely considered a national hero in Hungary.”Rákóczi” is also the name of a popular Hungarian breakfast salami. Dear, kind Ferenc: I am in love with your meat-printed face. I fan this last pious slice, […]
Irma is the second-prize winner in the Poetry and Political Language Challenge on Young Poets Network, in partnership with the Orwell Youth Prize. Irma is also commended in August Challenge #1: Re-mixing History, Fiction and the Unexpected.
Erik is commended in August Challenge #1: Re-mixing History, Fiction and the Unexpected on Young Poets Network.
Helena is commended in August Challenge #1: Re-mixing History, Fiction and the Unexpected on Young Poets Network.
Ife is a commended Foyle Young Poet of 2019. He wrote and judged August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network in 2020.
Riya is commended in August Challenge #2: Fairy Tale Poetry on Young Poets Network.
Molly is commended in August Challenge #2: Fairy Tale Poetry on Young Poets Network.
Annie is the first-prize winner of August Challenge #2: Fairy Tale Poetry and the second-prize winner of August Challenge #3: Repetition & Imagery on Young Poets Network.
Based on the legend of Chang’e Winter: the living room gleaned of moonlight. A city slumped anemic over its knees, milky and putrid like a wound unsutured. I used to scrape rust from kitchen counters and drink fat until my tongue swelled gibbous, large enough to swallow the November sky and your rice fields gone […]
is thinking of you at those just-teenage get togethers at Rebecca’s, hoping to feel grown but betraying your youth by gripping your glammed-up fruit shoot too tightly. Dionysus creating Strongbow Dark Fruit (and the Aldi knock-off too) is thinking of you at family BBQs, where you are fourteen and disgusting and need something to do […]
And I never saw my mother again. All my stars fell palms-first into the thorns outside my small glassless window. No door, no stairs. I just found myself, there. My thimble. My long smoking rifle and I, the smoke softly ceasing to exist. It takes seventy years to wash my hair. She did it in […]
Şahmaran tells me behind her bar, don’t trust a man if you have to tell him but you have sisters and a mother, too. don’t trust them if they think clearing the table is a compromise don’t trust the family father who thinks his sons rather fear him don’t trust the boy who pulls your […]
Don’t let your widowed father remarry— that is, if you still want to wake up at dawn to the sound of your heart beating between your ribs. Remember: stepmothers are evil and vain and bloodthirsty and own talking magic mirrors capable of making calculated analyses of your beauty. Remember: all that […]
A boy: small thighs, coat aged into feathers, walks in through the cold. Undressing his wet clothes I find breadcrumbs in the folds of skin. He unwinds the limbs of an apple. Milk slips from his childish lilt. I weep as he sucks the glass like an orphan. I bring him my blankets and I […]
after Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife My boy went down to the river and came back bronzed man. Sneer frozen on his handsome face, eyes unblinking, tongue of gold, contempt held Sharp (between his iron cavities). We were unlike. He’d twisted his heart into alloy pockets as cold as the river in the winter-time. […]
He feels like he could eat the world raw. I feel like our happy ending is another broken promise. like the sun will set when he does, when the roar of his name across battlefields is not enough; it never was I feel like his hair will never look the way it does now. like […]
is empty of children, ripped cardboard, happy endings. A flesh rimmed cavern, sinews strung under the heart like harp strings. Tanks rumble under my feet when the wolf talks, gutter-pulsing in skin. I lie on my back & pretend this hollow is a spaceship, primed for a red sky. The acid river foams down my […]
Contains adult themes Medusa died this year. Didn’t you hear? You can’t turn men to stone If they never look at you. Come on, She said, My eyes are up here! Medusa cut her hair short, Squeezed into yoga pants And filed her fangs The Thursday night Before it happened Because she’d read an article […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Claire Carlotti I am the night; my soul, my gaze, my dream are the worst wounds While in the shadowed mirror, my lips brush against pursed wounds. Autumn bleeds through each season, my Libra upsets Sagittarius And the arrow strikes Scorpio, releasing venom from burst wounds. The bull, weary and […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Crystal Peng I am soul gaze, ghost, & slumber my nights are sullen, wounded when I kiss myself in dim mirror my lips are gushed & swollen, wounded I am years stitched […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Jhermayne Ubalde My soul, my hopes, my dreams – they bleed My reflection, stained red with the taste of an estranged lover’s kiss Autumn bleeds into centuries Scorpio: dancing with death Libra: pulling back the drawstring Sagittarius: embracing its result The world sways on a bovine axis of fury painted […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Divya Mehrish I am soul, eyes my shadow haunts my dreams wounds these dreams: nights of wet mirrors; lips pressed against reflection; I kiss my lips, I kiss my eyes. My lips are wounded. I am a time […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Annie Lane My soul, my sight, my shadow, my night, my every dream – all are bloodied. I kissed my reflection, the mirror split – My lips are wounded. A venomous year, an autumn year. Each constellation ploughs into the next and My Scorpio is wounded. The bull’s horns shake […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Gemma Craig-Sharples My lips on mine in the mirror, wounded A comfortless kiss for my soul, wounded His arrow pins me to poisoned autumn And the year snags: seasons wounded Earth trembles on the raging bull’s horns with A hitch of heart, this heart, my heart, wounded I have no […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Charlotte Hughes I am sleep, a body gazing down at its own shadow during the night of wounds. I am lips the color of the red dawn that kiss the mirror, love their wounds When each season turns to autumn—Sagittarius shot through, Libra uneven. Venom eats Scorpio inside out like […]
by Suhrab Sirat, translated by Ellora Sutton Gaze: the night is bright and light-wounded. The mirror shatters. My kissing lips are wounded. I am a calendar, days split and divided by barbed wire. I am Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpio, wounded. My sloppy red heart, heart, heart, this raging bull is wounded. I have no footprint. My […]
Annie is commended in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard.
Crystal is the second-prize winner in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard.
Jhermayne is the third-prize winner in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard.
Divya was a commended Foyle Young Poet in 2018. She is the third-prize winner in the Poetry and Political Language Challenge on Young Poets Network, in partnership with the Orwell Youth Prize. She is commended in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard; and in August Challenge #2: […]
Gemma is commended in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard.
Claire is the first-prize winner in the 2020 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation, judged by Clare Pollard.
For Tammy the hamster I think perhaps nature made you Soft for us, because there’s no sane Reason for you to wear a cloud for a coat. If there is in your littlenesses Some ancient, statue-high message I think it is not a lofty one. You speak more in the warm Thereness you bring on […]
Speck of skyslide, Penicillium mold grown in zero gravity you have no shape to speak of. Semi-precious adhesive, you belong with beautiful things. Ancient Egyptians would have placed you with gold inlaying death masks with Blu Tack and fingerprints understanding that a soul takes many forms, each carrying the same weight. O […]
You, my favourite soprano, sizzling egg white, caged bird with metal tongue, the moon reflecting the air of the room back to itself. I turn you on in the morning and you don’t stop, spinning gold from the open window, festooning my face with the curious fingers of unsure ghosts. You are a crystal ball. […]
Content warning: references to suicide Even after it all, I want to live so badly that I lock the doors, I turn the gas stove off and lift my head from the bathwater. I return the insignificant calls and write letters to thank other people for living too, for waking up early and making bread […]
I am sorry for tearing off my mask (your holiday home) and shouting what the – as you huffed on car carpet but I remember how strong your red bauble back gleamed with its dilated pupil pattern and – at the rolled window – how reluctantly you allowed the wind to touch your line-drawn legs […]
Black Hydra jungle vines, curly and thick. Cut off the head and three more grow back. Dear pubes, I am supposed to despise you. Mow the lawn until I am smooth, pure and woman again. Rip you from the root like some unholy and unfeminine weed. Perhaps I did this once – forgot about cavewomen […]
I wrote an ode to the dust motes kicked up like the smoke of her body. O light and pixie-ish things, disturbing the still of the air and mind. Giving us leave to crack the silence. Gifting us the salt to cry with. O catching of grief in my throat: an excuse for the broken […]
Sometimes I think my whole little world revolves around me— my four walls of paste and foamboard, plywood turrets and hollow molding, all held up by a nail from the eighties. Each day a reflection of the next. The same food—apples pierced in the center, white bread, orange cheese stuck together […]
you are the most non-judgmental cuboid. o pockmarked monolith, not full of stars but carrots (accidentally bought in bulk), and buttery light that melts across the floor like a sunrise in the kitchen at 1am. i love my home but i miss your magnetism, your souvenir fridge magnets worn like medals, princess leia declaring to […]
Sairah is commended in the Ode to (Small) Joy challenge on Young Poets Network.
after Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist’, kept in the dark room at the National Gallery This love is kept in the dark. You only visit it, through curtain Of hush and black, you step Into a different colour of time. There is no eye […]
after Odd Nerdrum’s painting ‘Running Bride’ Bride of a beast, silent, tyrant woman caged out of her own poem. I’ve been cradling a wet rag to his feet when I could be dressed in nothing but a summer mist. Where is that girl gutting a bear to wear its hide as a bride, chopping fur […]
after Bob Ross’s painting ‘Winter Mountain Lake’ It is an old story. Girls, perched on banks, shedding masks onto the moonlit pebbles. They are giggling, brushing white flecks off their noses. The myth tells them to drag fingers into the lake, lick the ripple, splash dirty off their mishaven legs. Mother warned of wolves nuzzling […]
after Franny Choi and Jeff Koons’s Gazing Ball Series get up—as in the world goes on, as in you cannot not spin until you collapse into the couch next to you. do you know why you can move in a moving world? listen. you don’t hear the gentle whir of an axis, mounted on a […]
after Andrew Wyeth’s painting ‘Christina’s World’ 1 When there was such a thing as country I stood in a tobacco field and felt I was drowning 2 Now I can buy a muslin pink prairie dress online. If I don’t have enough money the website says I could cut my hair with an electric razor […]
after Edward E. Simmons’s painting ‘Old Woman Peeling an Orange’ The art of peeling an orange gets harder each passing season. Still, her thumbnail presses under the rind like it’s an envelope, a love note from long-gone seasons, ones where the shadows bleed out at noon, and the rain is delicate as a chandelier. It […]
after Doris Salcedo’s photograph ‘Shibboleth I’ Tell me, do I pass this test? All day I have studied the ways things break apart – the shapes of the spaces they leave behind. It is not unusual, to want to know how two halves of a peach pull away from pit, how scalpels propagate brief stories […]
after Mira Dancy’s painting ‘Blue Exile’ Mid March I give up my lungs. Here are the seedy airways that have shrunk in my chest; here is a bruised […]
Emma is a commended Foyle Young Poet of 2019 and the third-prize winner of the Artlyst Art to Poetry challenge on Young Poets Network. She is commended in August Challenge #2: Fairy Tale Poetry.
Esther is a commended Foyle Young Poet of 2019 and is commended in the Artlyst Art to Poetry challenge on Young Poets Network.
Anne is a commended Foyle Young Poet of 2019 and the second-prize winner of the Artlyst Art to Poetry challenge on Young Poets Network.
The speakers are all liars, sweating red sunset, orange sunrise vibrates the TV at dinner, the conversation doesn’t start again, in the static silence a crackling of throats, after twenty-five years the clock halts, clattered forks, hands well-washed, plastered over, hollow words richochet off walls, snarling family, poster smile, “theresalwaysgoodinbad”, the rattling cars at five, […]
you waded through my dreams again last night drew yourself along the current of the partitioned streets I had shuffled down in my youth beside a girl a few days older than me and bargained for my time said that you had swept along our earlier days the chiselled jaw line hook and sinker the […]
We cram our lives into tight spaces, love dried and pressed beneath all the books you’ve ever lent me. My postcard heart flutters as I tie and untie knots to your quivering breath. Origami sweet wrappers, the closest thing to skin, stamps like fingertips. Here, let me give you my kneecaps, pin them up on […]
Around the corner from Rock Rd to South Maple I’m watching a drive-thru birthday, cars in procession, squared-off in gift paper, a great parade. I string along, dragging my dog to the fence, yipping, yanking, to give her a little privacy—our local drugstore is taping an X underneath my feet so I back up only […]
I want to tell you I believe I’ll survive this. That I haven’t been updating my will or receiving texts from the government as a ‘high risk person’. That dad isn’t a firefighter. That six of his colleagues haven’t contracted the C word and are off work. That he doesn’t lie in bed pre-empting my […]
Look, see? It lets me hang out with Kevin in America and Lydon in China and Hayley in the next room. I can give them things – cherries, or campfires, or a lamp I made out of two giant clam shells and a lump of clay. This pastel pink koala is my best friend. She […]
Content warning: sexual assault, violence for Naureen Bhat Elspeth edifies Edith’s wish; walks with her every door that smells of dead elks; questions the government; kisses raped women; questions the government; takes a shower; thinks of Emily’s emails; sends six texts – to say hello; say sorry; say the police beat two men because […]
candy mints kitchen knife singing hallelujah darling, if it’s between me & the sickness i will always choose the sickness bathroom mirror during golden hour black-eyed syringe a full visible spectrum of light summer divorcing my throat & sternum both, this blueshift -jawbone an old house piano keys in my head […]
I had never ridden a bike in the city before now the wheels are the only shapes I can safely hold I use them to remind myself of the day of the month I stroll through the empty streets and notice what cannot be seen – salted tears, hands shaken, the figures with no face […]
There is a sharp sleek outline on the hallway wall, Pretending to be a metaphor. Graphite lines chase their way up the outline, Pausing and dipping for moments in time. Many have inhabited the metaphor, Many more will. The lines flow Up, and are broken at the top. There, the lines flatten themselves into Measurements, […]
Delphine is commended in the fourth Bloodaxe Archive challenge, Take Note, on Young Poets Network.
Eunice is commended in the fourth Bloodaxe Archive challenge, Take Note, on Young Poets Network.
Alexa is commended in the fourth Bloodaxe Archive challenge, Take Note; and in August Challenge #2: Fairy Tale Poetry on Young Poets Network.
Evelyn is the second-prize winner in the fourth Bloodaxe Archive challenge, Take Note, on Young Poets Network.