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3 poems by Tom Bailey


The world was very difficult and we couldn’t find the instructions. Everywhere things were stacking up: plates, books, afternoons of weather. Our mood rings turned the colour of panic, so we stayed inside and kept the curtains closed. And what we took for a child’s laugh was the house catching its breath, and what we took for birdsong was a cloud getting tangled in a tree. The thing about our voices was that they were sort of raining, but not really. I thought that if we wrote things down then maybe it would get easier, though sadly I have been unable to verify this hypothesis.


The man on the weather program said there was no weather that day. What he meant was not no rain or storms, but no weather at all. There was just an empty space where the weather used to be, and nobody seemed to know where it had gone. Peat hags opened wide like mouths on the moorland. Here and there a magpie rattled the rain-stick of its throat. What do you do on days like this? We wrote down every dream we’d ever had, even the ones we didn’t remember having. We made two little paper boats and pushed them down the stream.


Sometimes the planet gets embarrassed about the sounds it makes. Like just this morning, on the beach, you should have heard the noise the sea was making. Each wave was a hurt trying to wash the shells clean, which is why we knew we had to get out of there. In the mountains, there were these strange flowers that we used to know the names of when we were young. Some days I think I hate my life, but other days it’s pretty okay I guess.


Tom Bailey is a poet from London. His poems have been published in magazines including bath magg, The North, The Kindling, The Cormorant, Propel, Lighthouse Literary Journal, and the Munster Literature Centre's Poems from Pandemia Anthology. He is a member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective 2022-23.

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