Listen to the poem below.
You see them too?
Those boygirls, leaning against the counter
as the coffee machine steams,
performing the art of waiting without
looking bored. They hold their shields tight
around their bodies, but
wear winged earrings, casing
the shell of their ears,
preparing for flight,
prepared for the call. Dressed in white shirts,
opened deep enough to see
the curves beneath, the bones
beneath, black skinny ties
necks like a trophy,
tight black jeans that suture the knees,
the hips, the ankles. Drinking
cup after cup of witch-thick black coffee,
temples racing, fingers tapping
I’ve heard they come for you,
when you’re at your best,
wrapped in a haze of victory-sheets
Did you get one too? This leaflet
inviting you to the gig, the big hall. It’s
numbered 17 of 45, so it’s you and me and
those mysterious others. Did they tell you
about their wings made not from angels,
but from iron maidens?
Running jet in their veins
lengths of blonde hair like
rope binding, tieing you up with
ghosts of escape, wish maids.
It’s 4AM and you’re sleep-stepping
through the fog on Curtain Road. I’m
right behind you. The
cobblestones uneven, the kind
you never notice in daylight:
slate grey skies, sea filled moon, the
kind of dark, night, street uneven.
Leaflet gripped like a train ticket to
the underworld, soggy in the close drizzle,
shadows as big as ogres, as big as
memories but not your dreams.
Obsidian in our veins, turpentine
bright. Hiding between worlds,
between the walls,
they pluck your jacket, snagging
lose threads, stolen melodies,
pearl words between heart-tight friends.
You always think: Why not me?
Step back from the line of fire.
Step inside the wall of fire.
but there’s a moment, just before the
pain becomes pleasure
when you see the face that says
nothing with words, but
everything with firm eyebrows
and tight mouths.
Just a cinnamon, guitar chord, star
bright, blood-thick moment.
SK Grout grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and has lived in Frankfurt, Germany and Norwich, England. She currently lives in London. Wanderlust, eco-living and writing remain priorities of her life.