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2 poems by Rebecca Watts

Women Poets (in Order of Preference)

Mrs Dedication

Would you just look at her –

neat hair parted centre, pious smile;

a real doll.

She took care of him –

collected and copied out his works in fairest hand;

later penned a few love lyrics of her own.

Eccentric spinster

Oh, something happened to her

way back in school –

a fellow in the bushes doing what he shouldn’t.

She’s a clerk now –

types her poems winter evenings

with a beaker of tonic for company.

Some of them are even funny.

Mad girl

You could tell from the get-go she was one

to steer clear of – not a beauty

exactly, but the way she kept on looking

made it tough to look away.

Latchkey for a necklace. Lightning

moods – would trash anything sooner than give it up.

Walked herself onto the stake.

Still burns.

Note: This poem riffs on ‘the three basic stereotypes of the woman poet’ discussed by Jeni

‘Disposing of dead rodents is a man’s job’ (Mumsnet forum)


My friend’s daughter in a sweet floral dress

poking at a rat the size of her head

as it lay stiff on the drain cover, its sneer

chronicling the horrible ecstasy of the poisoned.


My friend, her mother, donning marigolds,

doubling black sacks and trowelling the corpse inside

while speculating about its time of death

with the nonchalance of a TV pathologist.


Rebecca Watts is the author of two poetry collections, The Met Office Advises Caution (2016) and Red Gloves (2020), and editor of Elizabeth Jennings: New Selected Poems (2019), all published by Carcanet.


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