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It’s karaoke in The Globe on Morning Lane:
throatfuls of song   of heady beer
& beery heads   pushing the pubglow
— this hallowed circumference of yellowed light —
out to its furthest limits

………………………………… into the beyondwhich
where boys with blades and orcish grins
kick cans down streets   where daughters of Cain
text naked anxieties   score giving skin;
where things mutate   and people worrywait,
where what-ifs drift   phantom-like upstairs
fill crumbling holes     in place of sleep
where you aren’t beowulfbrave at all…

…………………………… …the same old poets songs
blart from the mic    Once I was afraid
like shipwrecked epithets:   the sea-dark wine
a fist-punched night.    Love isn’t all around.
We are.   Hugging our dark.   Biding time
until the music stops     you step into the sobercold —

you know these spectre-shadows    on the wall
the way they dance     the graffitied Grendel-name
tagged over and over again.   By picturing us so
we pervade the light     you let our darkness in.

Emma Simon is a London-based poet. Her first pamphlet, Dragonish, was published by The Emma Press this year.

“This poem came out of the Fair Field: How to Write Like a Medievialist course, where we wrote poems in response to the Anglo Saxon epic, Beowulf. It struck me that the scene where we first see the monster Grendel doesn’t seem as though it was written 1,000 years ago (apart from the rather impenetrable language!): people drinking, telling stories, and reciting poems round a fire, while monsters lurk in the shadows.”

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Jenn Farr