Two poems | Madeleine Stack | Granta

Two poems

Madeleine Stack

I won her with my grief

I won her with my grief first
a mess of steaming entrail, enticing
with its gloss. then I won her as a
thief does, two hands curled behind my
back, a cocked brow
her snout curious out
the blankets in the morning
a tantrum sounding in the far apartment
the alarm of the morning
we make a little nook and speak into it
to this nook the others come to rest their heads
from it pass messages of respite to the troops
the nook thus serves the people,
a dovecote for the dispossessed
that expands with each wisp and sigh
each murmur passing unowned
by the leaders of the guards







chaos rehearsals

the red eye and the yellow eye are brothers
all synthetic fabrics; chenille, fleece, flammable
neither dove nor lamb
neither agent nor executioner
red sky at night, abiding by every rule
exiting the gate we were already crying
on opposite sides of the automatic door
you could give the kiss of death, anyone can
just by virtue of being too hungry & blurring
your eyes. poppets hung out of breastplates
urns were engraved before sealing shut
we all kept some lively little trinket to hand
for the inevitable waiting period in the halls of
the state. to enter with fear of death
was unspeakable, tempting fate. to enter, however,
planning diversion was the strategy we chose to
fall for. molluscs swayed this way & that with
the passing tides of functionaries clipping babies
as they rushed by, the water taketh
the mosaic underfoot shone from the greasy snacks brought
by the visitors and from desperate cloaks
brushing urgently & spit & tears urgently &
desperate little faces reflected in it.
when you pry open the oyster of the state searching
for the pearl that is yours alone, you go like a thief
returning his property; turn the false key
with an ear turned finely to the click that
comes so soft, a lover’s susurro in the ear
and don’t let the heartbeat expose you, go
still with down-turned faces, guard the delight


Image © Stuart Rankine

Madeleine Stack

Madeleine Stack is an artist and writer, whose work has been published in Prototype, Hotel, Cordite, Another Gaze, and Salt. They were a finalist in BOMB’s 2022 Poetry contest, and their long-form poem on intimacy across hemispheres, Portable Monument, was commissioned by the BBC and ICA for national radio broadcast.

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