Phone sex

June 20, 2019

We’re on the phone and he says I just came

hard over you. I’m by the window,

not just clothed but cardiganed – though

he doesn’t know – and I realise

the mug of tea in my hand was a mistake:
this conversation’s bridge

too far. He’s got this voice, see – like treacle

over gravel, like vowels pulled up

at the pit-head and consonants whipped

like the blue sparks under a train. He’s

six foot two, six hundred miles away

and I’m weak for his filthy vocabulary.


The day’s failed. The light’s gone creamy,

smudged – the edges of the glasses dulled

as they dry on the board, my tea

gone cold in its chipped mug – I’ve been holding it

halfway to my face, listening shocked

and still as though to a break-in at the house

next door. But there’s only him saying oh

baby, fuck – and I look up, past the scrubbed

windowsill with its pile of books,

past the drying-green poles, their slung line

beaded with pegs. Above the woods, a flank

of rain is gathering, bruise-black: it draws up

in front of the sun like a limousine.


In a minute, I’ll watch it take the hill, undo

the road’s chaste sash, the fancy up-dos

of the trees all tossed, all loosed. You’re the

best, he says, in his hot, burned-sugar voice,

and I hear that he’s tired from work – perhaps

he wants a cigarette – yes, he’ll light one when I’ve left

and feel the fist of that old need unclenching,

too. I want to say I love you, but I don’t.

The rain is all around me now, it’s swallowing

the houses whole. It’s really going for it

out here I say, almost without meaning to –

you should see. It’s really coming down hard.

Claire Askew

You are trapped in my web, an unsuspecting victim. Doomed now, are you, to melancholic servitude for life: I will force you to lick my most secret places; you will exist on the borderless threnodies of my darkest desires, feeding on my intimate secretions, more juicier than any papaya – and you will be like an animal skinning itself in reverse: you will swallow my juices – all my juices – your sex throbbing with its own crazy pulse, never to be satisfied. Lost in the carnal and divine of my pale body – my fleshy witch body.

As to writing. What I have to say, I must say: simply to get it out. After 4 hours trying, whether it’s failed or not, one is physically and mentally exhausted. I mean it. All I want to do is creep into bed, notably after failure. Also one cannot think coherently of anything else. It eats away in the brain, a ceaseless conversation with oneself. The smallest chore is horrendous to get through. People do not stimulate; they exhaust.

Martha Gellhorn,
letter to Betsy Drake featured in Martha Gellhorn Selected Letters

…the body has been for women in capitalist society what the factory has been for male waged workers: the primary ground of their exploitation and resistance, as the female body has been appropriated by the state and men and forced to function as a means for the reproduction and accumulation of labour…

the body can be for women both a source of identity and at the same time a prison, and why it is so important for feminists and, at the same time, so problematic to valorise it.

Silvia Federici
Caliban and the Witch

trying to write

June 20, 2019

You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.

John Berryman
Why I’m the poet I’ve become: John Berryman and the lucky thirteen
Article by Philip Levine in New York Times 26th December 1993