Poems of the month

‘SHADOW BOXING’ by Lewis Buxton

The boy fighting ghost // in his back garden will never know that his punches // have landed

In my poem. In the skin & bone of winter, // dressed in a string vest & cotton bottom shorts, //

he works the body of nothingness, // his gloves glancing off the cheekbone of air, // breaking

December’s icy jaw. He rests, // hands on thighs, trying to catch the breath // that keeps

Disappearing from his lungs. Does he think // about what he is punching? // is the swing enough?

The air resistance? // I write every jab and twitch, // reach out towards him, trying to catch

Something before it hits // the ground. Boys rarely know what // they are hitting, let alone why.

‘To be fifteen’ by Victoria Richards

and after the third can of Super Strongbow cider, to throw up
all over the embossed wallpaper belonging to that girl in the year above,
the one with the bra straps and dirty jokes. She breathes in smoke without coughing,
says, “alright?” to the most beautiful boy at school, the most beautiful boy
with hair black as cats’ tails, slippery as nicotine. His smile a lopsided carousel.

To lock yourself in the bathroom at the house belonging to that girl
while you leave traces of last night’s dinner
– don’t eat too much, you get drunk faster on an empty stomach –
all over the pale-pink bathroom suite her parents spent a day choosing from Because
You’re Unique even though it started with a subordinating conjunction.

To have only just started your period but to not have breasts like Belgian buns
and to have those not-breasts christened “pancake” by the boys who stand like gatekeepers
in the kitchen belonging to that girl, cans of Monster in their pockets. Rows on rows of teeth.
To have written a letter to the beautiful boy and to have asked him, unthinkably, to read it.
To hear him say, “I like you – a bit,” like that, bit in italics.   

To throw up in the house belonging to that girl who will look at you like you’ve bled
through soft cotton, smeared war-paint across your forehead, your skin an 18-hole rebellion.
She will point and say, “that’s her” until it becomes a hurricane, until Mrs Gulch rides by
on her 1900 Orient with the broken spring, as dead chickens fly past the window.
Her smile will tell its own story and she will call it truth.

Of sagging into the beautiful boy like he’s the wind and you a used tissue
wearing someone else’s mascara. Of laughing chaotically at something he said
that was only half-funny, of touching his knee and letting him touch yours,
because knees are prayers and fingers communion wafers.
Of going with him to the bottom of the garden belonging to that girl. Of being ordained. 

Of someone calling your parents and for your dad to come, for him to climb
the stairs belonging to that girl in silence, force the lock while you lie foal-limbed –
to carry you out to the car like a trampled chrysanthemum and take you home,
pull off your tights, wipe shame, hot and sticky, from your hair,
put a bin next to the bed for morning.

To be fifteen and to have to call the house belonging to that girl. To speak through sheet glass
over a tongue of sand, to rip yourself raw. To go back to school on Monday, toes curled
and desperate inside ruby slippers two sizes too small. Childhood taps you on the shoulder
______________– You’re a woman, now!
To pray for an outbreak of collective amnesia. Of mass, unexplained cardiac arrest. 


‘You’ by Amelia Loulli

You came in the night       put your hands around her cheeks
and yanked her     from my nipple    or   if You didn’t    You stole
all the food     fed Yourself     on the bread I baked
that afternoon        grew bigger    or  if not      You hid    in the corners
stealing glances   of moments You called mistakes    warned would ruin
made me shiver   or    if that wasn’t You       You were somewhere all the time
getting closer until    in the end      I could hear You whisper    feel my hair
parting for Your breath     and when You came to face us   I wouldn’t say
You were black   shadow    more the sharp winter light    stabbing
through the windscreen   on an early morning drive     sending me
swerving    burning   my eyes