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3 poems by Sidrah Zubair

Lady Macbeth does retail therapy

I fill limitless yellow voids inside me

with teddy coats leather boots

and names I can’t really pronounce

The ground may give way at any time under me

and I may slide into a different being

Does anyone know I crush a thousand almonds

with my ribcage

Does anyone know I swallow blutack

until my body forcibly contorts into joy


I yell in the middle of pavements

roaming in nothing but a Burberry trench coat

hoping someone will take notice and love me

hoping they will etch my name into their glovebox

as I the beautiful tragic hero

smile and sit prettily on a moon-shaped

bed littered with crow corpses

but first I must spend money on pastries

swallow my intensity and scratch my head

pretending to not know what savings are


you question Tyne about husbands and childbearing

you drink assam tea with jellied pudding

you watch a horror movie all alone

you’re still lonely on a bench outside the Gala

trees smile at you from behind the cathedral

your nose runs underneath charcoal clouds

the old white women here regard you as entity and curse

you think about death, decaying under Old Elvet,

a body covered in algae and Northern dewdrops—

your mother calls with a voice that reminds you of living

so you do, inside a 3-day duvet and a 2-day binge

and a 1-day mental breakdown before the train back home

a hyena starts coming into my room in the night

i make him shakshuka for breakfast and he scoffs it all down, licking his canines, smacking

his lips.

he introduces me to his family’s rituals, like burning deer antlers and dancing in hexagons around a stereo. he shows me how to cut into the hardness of banyan tree barks. we theorise how one can actually keep one’s enemies closer.

the hyena soon proposes to me with an emerald carcass. i accept with a howl. the stars realign with joy while the moon sighs in shame.

he comes back with a different prey every evening for dinner. i read him Yeats afterwards. we don’t talk about children.

one day, i tell him that i want to die. he turns around and fixes me with a gaze that reminds me of guns held to temples. You’re not invaluable enough to die.

he strokes my back with his gunmetal tail and grazes my forehead with his leathery tongue. i press the back of my hand against his chest and ribs, feeling for something that isn’t there.


Sidrah Zubair is a poet and teacher from London. Her poems have appeared or are

forthcoming in bath magg, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Atrium, Ink Sweat

& Tears and Poetry Wales.


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