Siobhan Campbell


By the tap of his shoes, we know him,
by the shunt of his vowels. We groomed him
from birth to be ours. Even on days in the mountains,
he’s behind us in the lull of the trees.

Tap, tap he goes, striking fear into the follicles
of young girls. Their hair shaved off, their bodies
brushed and we knew if he could,
he would cut out their tongues.

To feel his power, I was brought on a march,
to the sound of horns, a colour party, their buttons
sparkle, the gleam of the guns. Are they for us?
Are they for us really?

With a wisp of whine, we sang them a ballad
of our lost youth. They closed us down. No time
to learn a hymn re-laid by hands shot through
in the hold of prayer. It’s a new divine.

They can think all things at once. We’re dizzy
with spin. The store I shop in, they own.
The van that delivers is freshly sprayed.
What is their game?

Their mandate is precious, they press the mandators.
They are not insane. That shriek you hear is
an ear too close to the source. Soon they will enter
the imagination where they wait to put it out.

Bio: Siobhan Campbell is an Irish poet based in London where she lectures on the MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. Recent work has appeared in Poetry, Wasafiri and Magma. Siobhan's third full collection, Cross-Talk, will be published by Seren in November 2009.

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