Bed bugs and Telltale Press

This week I had the privilege to be asked to read with three other poets at a Telltale Press and friends evening in Lewes. It was a wonderful evening of words and I tried out some new writing on a very receptive audience.

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I was particularly impressed by the laughter, groans and disgusted intakes of breath my poem recalling my summer encounter with bed bugs last year inspired. And so I have decided to share it again.

Try not to be sick!

Lice

 not the one that I rolled under my thumbnail on the bank statement

to take back blood

but the ones behind my headboard that I hadn’t seen

who were leaving my hands stitched and red

and clumsy on the keyboard in the mornings

 

waking me up at midnight to switch on the lamp

me

curling in the centre of the bed one of those fortune teller fish on a palm

 

somewhere between motionless (dead one) and curls up entirely (passionate)

 

the internet doesn’t have solutions this time

and I stop being able to sleep at all, held in some hot paranoia

red eyes, more red hands

I hide them under long sleeves

*

him on the bank statement reminded me of head lice

and resting my cheek on the peeling leather desk in the study

while my dad picked out the nits with his sharp tweezers

and the good evenings when he let me crack them on an old envelope, smear that

and count them way over 50

 

go and show mummy he says

and I present her with that letter proud

not whispering like when I phone now

 

I haven’t got any money and the bugs

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