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There are ginger toms on the fire escape
and curtains tied in knots –
nine flights up your cigarette ash
is burning white and a guy in the corner
one they forgot –
a puppeteer of memory
doesn’t have a clue –
this could be New York,
a sketch pad in the Hotel Chelsea
and downstairs a woman is tipping
her mattress from the window –
jumping bugs like butterflies
live month by month
in the faces of trees
but all of this is bullshit
because most likely you are dead
and your neighbour is dead,
the flowers are dead and the playground
has stopped playing and the children
in the playground are married
and unhappy or married and kidding
themselves or having an affair;
in the flat downstairs
the newlyweds are watching a tv show
– he’s whispering Ashoka
and annoying the neighbours;
across the hall it’s Monday
a baby is born
naked and bird boned.



Nicola Bray lives in south east London with her partner, five sons, cat and four dogs.  She is a graduate of the Royal Holloway MA and she’s currently procrastinating over the possibility of a PhD.  She enrolled on the Poetry School’s first online course and has enjoyed numerous courses since.  ‘Thirteen’ was written during Catherine Smith’s online course, Love & Lust.

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