He recognises her natal chart
in the train-station time tables –
the half-lit butts, the changeability of ash
strewn on spent gum –
as interrupted charm
and philosophises the coffee machine
unsolicited, to the man who looks
like his father once did.
He infers her into classic literature
the court reports of the Didsbury Review
fingers on her stomach, flitting
like a mayfly
like a carelessly toppled coal
from the hookah to the rug.
Straightening her date’s tie
is nothing short of a power move
he isn’t alone
it’s Autumn, but at what cost?
Marbled light keeps opinions, but of whom
and why? He’s got his suspicions.
Somewhere over town,
she dully forks whitebait on
a square plate.
The prowl of the long-tailed weasel.
The dauntless pith of anti-sociality.
He moors in the clumping mulch
of her countryscape
as she juts about his towers, his
stealing notes from the wallets of
bankers, self-absented, for the sake
of a quick toot.
What convinced her was
the Bezel-set tooth
its precision and honour.
No hints had been dropped
between one stray and another
a glister for her, and the heroic,
stilted gait of a gun-shot victim
A friend who bleeds is better –
the canal grieves their petty larceny
his eyes being too blue to turn black,
He imagined them bathing under
a polluted waterfall
lathering with semen and tar
as gum wrappers and bottle-tops
fall out of her hair
and she mentions her periods
He quits the day
but stays one blink beside her
the lamplight groans
and is thrown on her bed.
When a wolf howls he blames her for
its cartoonish delivery
and falsely remembers her,
smoke curling round her elbows
the torch singer
in her red, sequinned dress;
eyes out, boys, she’s real.
Grateful, she indelibly marked herself with him
wore his seal, held his hand, took his drugs
the waxy complexion of their bloody recreation
“is there a way we can pretend to walk tightrope”
she said “but make it look convincing?”
He had no siblings growing up.
He was truthful to her
Wore the heavy mood of their rooms
as a sentimentally priceless tie-clip
suspended her from brass-hooks
equidistant between both gutter and star
she climbed him like an adopted brother
a devil caught under a ferris wheel.
Belladonna tea for breakfast
so they could scream about their dead pets
and find God again
and lay-down, him thankful for the tax perks
her grateful for the private healthcare.
But he never got to fuck her even once
(when pressed, they attested this was
for the best)
until one of them was a ghost
and he shimmered on her ceiling
from where he manipulated her body
with full, spectral consent
before stealing the intimacy of ritual
and the whisper she gives
through a black trance:
help my husband
he died a few years ago
and he would really like not
to be dead anymore.”
SS Bolton is a poet, editor and part-time necromancer living in the North of England. S/he is 28 years old, and has formerly published the collections Wild Heather (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017) and Softcore Cloudstep (79Rat Press, 2014), and the ebook Preen, Preen, Preen and Pride (Peanut Gallery Press, 2014) under the former pen-name, Siân S. Rathore. S/he is currently working on a third full collection; an immersive mixed-media and poetry project about the role of psychosis in cult leadership. SS Bolton is neither here nor there.