Emily Critchley

Two Poems



That cat gut you’ve inserted through my mouth,
It travels down my spine, fires & tugs
With every movement, ‘specially in my loins ~
It is the fruit of all seasons; a bird
For every journey ~ on each vital organ.
It has a tension you wouldn’t believe; a sssssspiccato
Belonging to the ‘60s. I mean the 1660s.
It is a little heinous corpus when I
Bend under. If you squared it with the up stroke,
You might smooth things over for a while.
At least till I return to some other
Decimated breeding ground where the mood
Is fertile & the land more perchy.
Such times are tough, & I get easily strung out.
Also, I find with every era that goes by
This little throat gets less & less tuneful /
More grating to the ear. I hate to catch you
On~the~wing for such discussions.
& there are perhaps other reasons why
It's not the best idea.



‘I am not shined upon’ but shiny. (1)
I am transfixed by those lights
When you close in on the green light,
What is there to offer you but this thing you bought,
& had no use for already.

The best light, a butter~hole, winks at me through its rose glasses.
If I sacrificed you, hole, maybe that would make me a better person;
Less poetic?
The butter~hole blinked & melted ~ that’s how hot it was.

Where were you in the interrupted page
That somehow circles between me & it making faces at us both
Yesterday anyhow?

Whenever I see you ~ out ~ ‘socially’
Why do you make a beeline
For averting me; advertising your wares
To all kinds of other flowers?
Is my get~up too representative
Of the kinds of work I don’t do? Mother
Always told me to be polite, fetch my fishnets,
No, no, don’t,
Work hard, be a good girl.
I think the Sex~is~like~Swimming manual she found under my mattress when I was young may have disturbed her.

Are my breasts like fish when you see them underwater,
Say, in the bath, or behind film?
Are my fingers their tendrils?
Say hello to Johnny.
‘He’s the roughest guy you ever met
~ until an angel said hello.’ (2)


Say 'hello Johnny.'

Johnny will punch a hole into your spare face ~ he’s big enough to take you out, mister ~ he’s not lizard~like like you & me.

Ever so daintily I will remove the green tendrils from your curled face.
I will slip beneath the jazzy exterior of your mirror image
Of the thing I neither doubt is there nor could live without.

The strap~on of your worst fears seems to be surgically attached
But if you give me enough time I’ll nibble through the shiny strap
Inch by inch with just my teeth. It’s not as unforgiving as a Lacanian dis~memberment.
Its head is up. It speaks to me softly in squeaky French:

‘C'est formidable le cinéma. On voit des filles avec des robes. le cinéma arrive et on voit leurs...’

Farewell sticky moment. You’ve ruined it now & my teeth
Are on edge anyhow after years of trying to fit into another mouth.

I guess all anyone can ever hope for is not to find out who they are
Just in time to lose all the people around them that they love.

Or: we as bought shoots
‘need kindling to fire
to be easily ignited’ or let grow. (3)

To be let down
Out of that growbag too early is to be displaced purposefully.
As a parent this is something you should know.

To my parent:
Dear parent,
I guess I hate you now.

You and everyone else in the room.






(1) ‘I am not shined upon. I am very small, dusty, lizard~like;
a toad, a turd, on a table top corner.’ Cathy Wagner, everyone in the room is representative of the world at large (Bonfire Press, 2007)

(2) Angels in the Outfield (1951)

(3) Allen Fisher, Place (Reality Street Editions, 2005)




Emily Critchley recently completed a PhD in contemporary, American women's experimental writing and philosophy at Cambridge University. Collections of her poetry have been published by Arehouse, Bad Press, Dusie and Oystercatcher Press, and she has a new chapbook entitled Hopeful for Love are th' Impoverish'd of Faith, due out next month. Critchley teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich, London.