Beloved Monsters by Fran Lock

To the East End, our elbows out. The streets exhale
their phlegms and sulphurs; styrofoams and botulisms.
Boutiques are union bunting, collective dread, pink
cubes of meat. A market crush, a cargo cult: a wooden
Christ, a scrimshawed skull, an orange bowl
abandoning its broken marbles one by one. The flat
damp day breaks into sherds, our fragments crack –
to the crock pot or the clay pipe, the brooch without
a back. The Thames and her tidal detritus. Lean boys
eating curried treyf; the girl we both half want to kiss
on her red, too red, and lacqueredly lips. The air’s
alive, regaling gangland much in love with its own
archive footage. Teenybops simper in vintage hats
their baby, baby. You are the accident, and I’m
the mistake. Hold on tight, or else. The courtly bow
and scrape of addicts. You’re catching the light,
and the lisping faith of maniacs. Despondent peal
of bells breaks that about your haircut like canned
laughter. Hawksmoor – the spoof alchemy
of Freemasons. Three-piece suit in a tribal design.
My mind, little brother, is a footprint filling with
rain. The alley beside Rough Trade, a cardboard
case is warping outwards like a coffin. I think:
The Resurrection Cookham. I think of Death, where
is thy sting? And it’s spitty tea, but these bagels
are good, this post-industrial vegan cheesecake.
And Jack the Ripper’s ghost, with red and burning
eyes, will never harm you. Our lore is not their lore.
My heart has been so hungry. Turning heads in
unison, we screw them out, we swivel sibling
canniness. A razor, a face, a mug in a trilby hat.
You’re everything the eye can claim or lay
to waste. We are the ship we will go down with.


Fran Lock is a sometime itinerant dog whisperer and author of two poetry collections, ‘Flatrock’ (Little Episodes, 2011) and ‘The Mystic and the Pig Thief’ (Salt, 2014). Her work has appeared in various places, most recently POETRY, and The Poetry Review. She is the winner of the 2014 Ambit Poetry Competition, and the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize 2015. Her poem ‘Last Exit to Luton’ came third in the 2014 National Poetry Competition.


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