Six Poems

New work by Peter Rawlings

Her Mouth

It is sister to disgust,
the turn of a spatula in the gut,
a pulsed blow to the brain,
all this kissing.
It is like exchanging dirty underthings.

Her mouth,
entrance to the innards,
fills up with two lolling
muscled tongues
that have said so much so privately,
done so much so privately,
for which the words are missing
in the now and only
given over to rooting
out pout and sneer,
gape or smirk.
This is inner lip turned
from chatter to privity.
It is gutter-spittle shut-eye
her sex upped from an underworld
then made lurid
in lipstick
turned on its side in wanton mimicry
that draws him

And where has it been, this mouth,
and how often
with greedy assent.
Wordless, eyeless,
it compacts into smears
a history of arousal,
the stories of this mouth
unwritten and unspeakable
lewdly inscribed onto mucous membrane.



All in white she glows on the late street.
She is a will-o’-the-wisp
who knows the lanes.

Cars are brutes passing.
How fleet of foot she is
who pads across the surface.

A silent cat, wary on all fours,
wears its tail up to make a pass,
strikes a way summarily.

It is dreamlike, the flitting across:
the swift, the hare, a sudden bat
forced into asymmetry.

Down lanes with cars
crowded by the dark
she stands lit up by one swung door.



In your sole room that no one dares to enter
at the edge of my inner eye I see you,
your head and arms pushing into shape
the lavish blue of your jumper

whose famous label is material witness to your act.

A passing hang-glider
dips to note.

From a nearby street the wild bird
of a house alarm responds.

Whoops of gladness like a muezzin
shake your window.

Now you’re all blue on top
you should whirl, beacon.

Your label has consummated name and nape.
You are sealed up and your true name
is a close secret inside
tall house, high room and
your inaccessible lofty head,

like Russian dolls.


Suburban Ties

In suburban wonder
the street trees thrive.

While sap thickens in silence
their shadows breed secrets.

Over the high window of number 25
copper beech in mature consent waves

as a pair of schoolboys in ties wave to
a pair of consenting schoolgirls

in modern serenade below.
They drink in the summer breeze

in matching ties with knock-kneed poise
like the cover of a Chalet School novel.

Inside, outside, striped ties
in airy harmony

beside copper aflame
and number 24 austere and eyeless.



‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.
Alice Through the Looking-Glass

Looking back
down the hill

inattentively I
opened the
gate across the path

which drew blood
from my hand,
the distraction

a reader
worthy of André Kertész
sitting outside a handsome house

in the October sun
in her bright red uniform
a modern Red Riding Hood

intent head bowed
innocent of me
walking through her field

apprentice wolf
she might have thought

as she read her book
I read her,
her colours,

her ineradicable house
blocked in granite
in timeless fixity

while we crossed
a flickering narrative

though my hand
luridly bloody
reached out red to red

in touching synchronicity.



A man’s watch hangs like a shackle
on the girl’s slender wrist.

She dabs at her impasto
with a light right hand,

her left downwards,
stilled and ponderous.

The bracelet drops
a little loose, rakishly,

to unbind her
while the hard dial glints.

Such small fine bones,
silver wire circuitry,

like filigree,
a swift’s metacarpal,

such studious delicacy
underneath such

bulk of steel
like a section of hammerhead.

Peter Rawlings grew up in London and New York and now lives quite high in the South Pennines. He has been widely published in literary print journals such as Agenda, Edinburgh Review, London Magazine, Magma, The North, Oxford Poetry, Stand, Warwick Review.

Leave a Reply