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2 poems by Richard Law

Zoo Days

I keep all my tusks looking sharp

as coins. One once bolted

from my cheek in a scrap.

The crowd stamped. Now

newlyweds flank me, poised

to capture that wishbone-snap.

People are surprised by how much

they can touch me. Buy a ticket –

I’ll show you how I can be.

You’ll hardly believe I used

to chew ants for a living.

Until you stared back at me from 1941

some part of me couldn’t believe

you were ever young. For years, I guessed

you sidestepped history. But I see in the grand piano

keys of your grin and knotted arms like little logs

across your chest that stories of five-a-side

in the slop weren’t just substitutes for the traumas

of war. Before huddling on the shores of Dunkirk,

clutching beads, praying to the Lord

you couldn’t believe in, you dodged studded slide tackles,

thickened your calves on leathered pig’s bladder.

Now, your breath seething

like white noise, I look to the soldier

stood beside you who took one

for the team in the oesophagus –

unable to tell you how terminal pain

still couldn’t persuade his bull-strong body

to death. This time the only beads to hand

are your son’s wavering knuckles.


Richard Law is a writer and poet living in Shropshire, UK, graduating from UEA in 2017 with

an MA in Creative Writing. His work has appeared in Poetry Wales, Ink, Sweat & Tears,

Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Pinched Magazine and others. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the

Bridport prize.


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