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3 poems by Joe Carrick-Varty

From sky doc

Once upon a time when suicide was the slow shape

of a blue whale coming up to breathe

in a David Attenborough documentary

my mum in some happy at of resistance

asking us to dance to Pet Shop Boys

in the living room before school

we danced for two songs before

my dad stomped on the ceiling

Once upon a time when suicide was a cat called Oscar

who died for three weeks my sister

assembled a feast of things he had

never tasted I remember watching him

drink double cream for the first time

standing under the cherry tree

where we sprinkled Oscar’s ashes

was the first place I saw my dad cry

Once upon a time when suicide was a forest I planted

and instead of trees grew every person

I ever hurt packed into a school hall

on a Tuesday all of them wearing

colour-coded socks depending

on the degree of hurt I have caused

suicide asks on a scale of 1-1000

how sorry do I feel for myself


Joe Carrick-Varty is a British-Irish poet, writer and founding editor of bath magg. His poems have appeared in the New Statesman,The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review and Poetry London. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2022. His debut collection, More Sky, is forthcoming with Carcanet in 2023.


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