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.
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!
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
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