:: Article

Five Poems

By Jenni Fagan.

Absinthe Abattoir

It was all fishnets and fifties knickers,
boys in black nail varnish
and dresses,
axe wielding
who couldn’t stand people
but made them dance anyway,
we played
like we meant it,
our clothes stank of rehearsal
rooms, dust on valve amps
sweat and cigarettes,
we tied each other up
too bored to fuck
rubbed coke on our clits
or our dicks
or our eyeballs
and gums,
walked cobbled
streets with guitars
on our backs
kissed only strangers
in the absinthe
where they pound
down the bones.


Watching From the Window at 6am On A Come Down

She is hoovering the road
at five am
no cars
to get in her way
no bumpers to have to lift
like errant slippered feet by the sofa,
she is naked
hoover in one hand
the plug trails along behind her
like an unwanted toddler
stupid and nappy wet
and hungry
and eager.
As the polis
pull up to the kerb
she is trying to polish the moon,
just trying to polish
it pretty
as they cuff her on the road.


As The Gun Lock Clicks Off

I am still waiting
at sun up in doorways
in empty train stations
my footsteps
the all night echo
of a nobody,
age ten.

I am still waiting
in police cells,
while she is dead
in my doc boots,
my rage is wasp fine
an’ burrowing.

I am still waiting
when the gang bang
goes disco,
on a bough of the elm
in some forest,
homeless and frozen
like an acorn
under Octobers moon.

I am still waiting
on the eighteenth
locked in
for five fucking days
with evil, as the gun
lock clicks off.


Snow Holt

The factories where coal
mines used to be, waft

winds candy sweet
across waste ground.

Clothes flap on makeshift
lines an’ dogs bark.

Seven boys circle
me slowly, ma

bare fists are up,
incredible hulk t-shirt

kicked tae fuck
sodden wi slush.

An’ they are tinkers
an’ boys!

But I am gypsy
just out the snow holt

like a white fox wi girl eyes
to glint as the winter sun fades

an’ the factory siren blares
– its bloody war cry.


Squirrels in the Walls

The mattress
in the neighbours garden
is sodden
an’ mouldy,
brown an’ gold
leaves blanket
the bits
where rain turned it black.

scratch in the walls,
while we hibernate
in words
our bedroom
candlelight safe.

The dealer upstairs
vibrates a low
bass an’ above that
a tap, tap, tap
as he cuts out deals
steady as a heartbeat
in the blood glow
of a womb.


Jenni Fagan is a Scottish poet and novelist based in London. Her latest collection of poetry The Dead Queen of Bohemia, from which these poems are taken, has just been released by Blackheath Books. Her debut collection Urchin Belle sold out on Blackheath and has now been released in New Zealand on Kilmog Press. She has been published in literary journals and anthologies in the UK, USA, Istanbul, India & Europe. She was recently nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. Jenni worked extensively last year on a collaboration with women in prison in the UK and USA. The resulting steel word sculpture was exhibited in Greenwich, London. In the last few years she has won several awards including Arts Council England, Dewar Arts and Peggy Ramsay. She is currently completing a writing residency. In previous lives she played in bands.

Jenni has just completed her second novel The Panopticon, and is working on her third.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, December 11th, 2010.