Originally from Northern Ireland, Olga read English at the University of St Andrews. She has been Warwick Poet Laureate and is currently a member of Room 204, the Writing West Midlands development programme. Her writing has been published for Poetry On Loan and in The Canon’s Mouth, Crooked Holster and Panning for Poems NI.
Cut and blow dry
I nest my handbag beside me,
cloaked in borrowed black plumage –
the air feels thick, old wax sagging
on my tightening skin. I listen to the
cold sermon of scissors on my neck;
scratchy crickets whose metallic legs
move and scrape together to sing
a hymn about the glory of me.
I watch while kittens of balled hair
play in corners by furred skirting boards
or sleep, purring, at my cushioned feet.
A ship in a bottle
A cold lung of smooth glass curves over my head,
the view from here is distant, deformed dry edges;
my smothered dreams pitch in oceans, delirious.
From the outside it must look so perfect –
my skin scrimshawed with our names, smiles stretched
taut over the everyday rigging of us.
Inside, your touch long abandoned. The curvature
of your turned shoulder against me in bed
is a mizzen. I lie between our lines of latitude.
For too long my shallow breathing has been stoppered,
a heart propped up with matchsticks, filled with sawdust,
stuck together with clumsy glue; dusty vesselled sack.
I am left only with elliptic dreams, I fantasise about feeling
smashed slivers treasuring my feet, hot blood swelling
with congealing sand, then pain, movement, air. My exit.
in these dark rooms I never noticed you until now –
the sharp tender line of your jaw
then a sinewed composition of hand wrist arm
my sodden heart hangs by little pegs
developing inside-out silhouettes
so so silently
i want to capture this sudden feeling of refraction –
i have been split beautifully apart
Artwork: Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection — What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.