In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

A Bed of NailsHugo Williams
Close
Close
Vol. 41 No. 7 · 4 April 2019
Poem

A Bed of Nails

Hugo Williams

192 words

Days move diagonally across town,
meet other days
travelling in the opposite direction.
Let off the leash,
I was roaming the streets after dark,
looking for a thread
among neon petals
splashing in gutters,

when the screech of brakes
heralded my destruction.
How kind of someone, I thought,
to consider de-accelerating
on my behalf, no matter
that the gesture came too late
to save my life.
The moment of truth

took me by the scruff of the neck
and hurled me through
a plate glass window made of ice.
I shot down the face
of a glassy curve
and came to rest where I am,
in a crazy place, in a bloody experience.
Danger, fear, rage,

the onset of extreme emotion
resulted in a message
being flashed down my nervous system
to two tiny glands,
one on each kidney,
which went into high speed action
pumping a charge of fear
into my bloodstream. Late,

almost too late at night,
I found myself barely alive
on a bed of nails.
I burst from the wreckage
with a blinding shock
of hips and hair and shoulder-blades,
streaming green light
because of something I thought.

Send Letters To:

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

letters@lrb.co.uk

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.

Read More

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