Poems: Lydia Unsworth

It does its work /

If I were a featherbed, saved up from the leftovers of how I used what came, I’d sag soft atop your cool firm base. Unindulge me with a single word, flamboyant dash on my curl-cruel fist shape. Undone like too much looking at who’s afraid in public space. Down a certain path you see a certain owl, a certain boy punches a certain woman against the corrugated cardboard of this small business is closing down. You do not intervene properly, but later begin to walk through the built-up park at the switch of night, expectant, anonymously exposed. I want to say armour, but it’s harm rather, a manner of protesting the prideless allocation of your time and (personal) space. Hallelujah, says the park gate when another body finds the threshold to another paltry escape. Flesh is to leaves as a slip hazard is to an open grave. All over it, the park sprouts clappy yellow bivalves of preventative danger: wet floor, wet floor.


Leave the Fish in the Deep /

Growth hormones push through the ground; give a girl a cuttlefish and see what comes out. If you’re one of those people concerned about germs, then put your headphones on and stay away from the arrondissement. Be careful near the edge of the boat, a strong wind, loose shards, a stalk of gulls―never flapping, always the same distance, gusto. To be permanent you have to move, hips wobble as you reacquaint with hard-boiled land. Gills, wings,

you’ll be trampled in the tumult. A hovering cloudlet is seen like an apocalypse, heavy and predictable, a shade of monster quick to be disrespected: it’ll never touch us. What does?

We are repellent to our neighbours. The side mouth, the trying-to-be-neutral eyes. Agents of holiday death, a lighthouse, a light. We float, we know we float, I have dropped goods into the wetness and witnessed. Shallow, we stick to the shallows where the sand in the water sometimes

splinters the sky. Try to smile while you say goodbye, stiff lips won’t reveal the shore, a shaking hand, the clots of origamied life. I’m a row of boats: arrow-thin masts, flaring matchsticks. And the endeavour of never wrapping around a cell, a planet. The moon is the biggest of all the stars: nearby, unknown, a tyrant.

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (KFS, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Winner, 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize), and two chapbooks. Her latest chapbook will be released by KFS Press in 2020. Recent work can be found in Ambitpara.textTears in the FenceBansheeBlackbox Manifold and others. Manchester / Amsterdam. Twitter: @lydiowanie

These poems are from the chapbook 'Yield', available via KFS press. 

Image by Paul VanDerWerf

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