You sleep as I stumble
room to room, unhelmed,
coming to you
through gorse-light
and the fallen trees:
heraldic, blessed
with wounds.
Red-handed at the key
I was stock-still, gazing back
at deer-slots in the snow:
flushed, quick from the kill,
carrying my shot,
my sadness like a stone.
In the quarry-hole of your bed
you’re sleeping still.

After the Overdose

What surprised me most?
Coming home to an open door,
rose petals everywhere, the bed
incongruous with blood?
The paramedic’s satchel
left behind in all the rush?

Or you in the hospital,
the crusted corners of your mouth,
the gown they’d put you in?
You never wore short sleeves,
not since you burned a name
into your arm with cigarettes.

Or, finally, that you weren’t dead?
That surprised me. That regret.

Navigating North

He’d hitched out of Frankfurt
till the fog and the dark
turned the road to a loud ocean,
its headlights ropes of pearl.
He got out here – four hundred kilometers
from the sea – reminded of Aberdeen.

Three hours ago he’d been
fucking the chambermaid:
making her show the white of her teeth.
Then she fucked him;
the schnapps in the shot glass
shivering by the bed.

The adult channel had the room
flickering as she finished him off.
Swallowing his pride, he might have
glossed ten years ago,
tossing back his drink,
crashing it at the wall.

But here was a car graveyard in a pool
of sodium and glass. He’d cut himself
opening up the Audi he sat in now,
watching the lit sea
rock the light,
the night-fishers spilling their nets.

Stars fall from his hands,
his cut hands full of splinters
and herring-scales; his shirt slaked red.
He is navigating north
in a beached car; his hands shake
constellations on the floor.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences