You think of us in bright medieval paintings,
our flat profiles ascending and descending ladders.
And slender, robed in cinnabar, announcing from stage
right or praising God in cartoon bubbles flipped
upside-down to be read more easily from above.
But come with me to the bridge where couples
stroll over the brown-black Thames, haloed by domes
and spires, the spoked and spinning blue Eye.
Look closely down the railing. There she is.
We travel the chilled air, whispering: don’t do it.
We are the shiver of thought, that the money or lover
might return, the painful illness be cured. And when
they jump, we are the warmth in hypothermia,
the ones in the brain’s control room, turning the knobs
of the visible scene, hastening the fade to black.
Robert Peake is a British-American poet living near London. He founded the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series, and collaborates on poetryfilm. His poetry collection The Knowledge is now available from Nine Arches Press.
A moot point
All pain is illusory,
the philosophy tutor maintains.
I slouch at the edge of the debate,
doodling black squares
in the margin of my A4 pad.
I let the other students get on with it,
the cries of outrage,
the counter attacks:
What about cancer?
I have seen faith healers
in the Philippines
from the terminally ill.
Grumblings of disbelief.
What did it look like then?
Like a cone of congealed fat
rising out of the body
into the healer’s hands.
The tutor wears Dr Scholl sandals,
lets his beard roam free.
He’s told us before
about his own faith healing.
The whole family’s involved;
even the cat
lays its paws
upon migraine sufferers.
One of the students gathers his books,
flounces out in protest,
muttering about wasted fees.
On a fresh sheet I write
all pain is illusory,
before carefully blocking out each letter,
thinking about Uncle Eric
who shot himself in the stomach,
wondering whether cool hands
could have healed
his illusory wound.
Hilaire has had short stories and poetry published in several anthologies and various magazines, including Brittle Star, Wet Ink, Under the Radar and Smoke: A London Peculiar. Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems. Her novel Hearts on Ice was published by Serpent’s Tail in 2000. She is currently working on a poetry collection with Joolz Sparkes, London Undercurrents, unearthing the voices of women who have lived and worked in the capital over many centuries. She blogs at: https://hilaireinlondon.wordpress.com/
The dark green water wraps me
silk-cool in afternoon heat.
I turn away from the shore. Beyond
there is sea for ever. All I need do
is swim till I become green silk
till where I am is no longer a place.
I can drown pain, close my eyes
on ruined cities, wash myself clean.
I feel the push of waves against me
swallow salt, lie still and float
out of my depth. The sea makes cold love
to all my bones, wakes fear
with its uninterested embrace. I turn
and see sand, find my feet again.
Susan Jordan has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and writes both poetry and prose. She has had poems published in a number of print and online magazines, including Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Snakeskin, South, Ariadne’s Thread and the Agenda online supplement. She worked for a mental health charity for a number of years.