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2 poems by Michelle Penn


Of course you chose the imperfect.

Of course the imperfect you thought

was pure.

Blame it on the moon. Blame it on

hot sun in old mountains making silver run loose

liquid from the earth, metal blood.

Blame it on silver entirely.

You understand tarnish, you always have,

the way you understood the hope of silver posts

forced through your earlobes, two

ambitious moons, rife with infection.

New moon brightening and tarnishing,

an extended breath.

Can a tarnished bullet still defeat

the creatures of the night?

You, imperfect creature, your frailty

swelling and ebbing and swelling again —

Fear of artefacts

These days, I worry about offending the furniture.

I want to apologise to the overstuffed chair whose arms are only

reaching for company.

The rickety heater smells like toast, my tea like a house on fire.

The velociraptor on the ledge bares a ravenous jaw while the terra-

cotta warrior crosses hands over armour, back straight, placid for a

fight in the afterlife.

These days, every thought seems a fossil, surfacing from unfamiliar

land, teasing with history. It leads a life apart and I can only observe,

fugitive to my own mind.

Outside, gas lamps sway in the gales. Birds scarcely bother with their


I can’t bear the news.


Michelle Penn’s debut pamphlet, Self-portrait as a diviner, failing (2018), won the Paper Swans Prize. Her book-length poem, Paper Crusade, will be published by Arachne Press (UK) in 2022. Michelle plans innovative poetry/art/music events as part of Corrupted Poetry. She’s also a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen.


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