Two Poems by Beth Brooke w/Art by Sonia Murray

Maybe You Aren’t Cut Out For This

Two pints of bitter – and try smiling,
it’s not the end of the world.

He drops the money into my hand
picks up the glasses, slopping
amber liquid onto the bar.
I think to myself,
I thought I was smiling;
but too much Mona Lisa, not enough
beauty queen has always been my problem.

You’re not from round here, are you, love?
My lack of Midland vowels gives it away
but what am I supposed to say to this,
apart from stating the obvious?
Don’t ask where I’m from,
I know you don’t really want an answer
and how would I explain it anyway?

Then he asks for peanuts,
grins at the packets hanging
on the cardboard square,
each purchase revealing more of a photograph:
a blonde girl
dressed in a winning smile.
I know just what the next reveal will be,
can’t quite stop my sigh escaping,
ask myself, What the fuck
am I doing here?

A poem written in lieu of a letter of resignation.

Change presses its hand hard against my chest,
restricts the ebb and flood of air;
Like the May-beetle on the windowsill
I cannot breathe, the transformation happening
will not let me
until ecdysis begins its magic
to bless us with wings.

There is an itch inside –
under the epidermis –
that claws for my attention,
makes me restless in my own skin;
my clothes feel tight, feel wrong,
don’t fit the thing
I know I will become.

Urgency at the edges of me,
at the heart of me,
urgency that brings me to this,
the moment when everything splits
and something wilder, stranger, stronger
bursts out and flies away.

Beth Brooke is a retired teacher. She was born in the Middle East and spent her formative childhood years there but now she lives on the amazing Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Her debut collection, Landscape With Birds will be published by Hedgehog Press in 2022. She can be found on Twitter as @BethBrooke8.

Banner Art: “Is life no longer precious“, a photo collage work by Sonia Adam Murray (c) 2022.

Sonia Murray was born in London, England & has lived and raised her family in multiple countries including England, Canada, Brazil, and, most recently, the US. She is a painter, photographer, collage artist, sculptor and stone carver. Her work is exhibited in Florida, incl. 3 solo shows. She has collaborated with poets, modern dancers, and other photographers. Her work has been featured at, a website for international photographers, writers and artists. A large part of her work is dedicated to focusing on improving our world and appreciating the beauty surrounding us. Twitter: @Mu03841066Sonia.

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