Issue 29: Denise Riley

And so they do


Fresh light rears up to sag into its day

of harshly luminous seas and salt-scoured rock –

‘They that have power to hurt’, so then they did.


It could have been enough to flash their power

but not to use it – thus peeps the oystercatcher

where she dabs in flocks, putters to dredge up


old airs for scarlet bills and piebald flanks –

‘All the little fisher-girls are holding up their frocks’

bone-weary by now, still douce if lippy.




[Denise Riley lives in London. Her books are War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother [1983], ‘Am I That Name?’ Feminism and the Category of 'Women' in History [1988], The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (2000), The Force of Language (with Jean-Jacques Lecercle; 2004), Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect (2005) and Time Lived, Without Its Flow [2012].  Poetry collections include Marxism for Infants (1977), Dry Air (1985), Mop Mop Georgette (1993), Penguin Modern Poets series 2, vol 10 (with Douglas Oliver and Iain Sinclair; 1996), Selected Poems (2000, 2019), Say Something Back (2016), Penguin Modern Poets series 3, vol 6 [with Maggie Nelson and Claudia Rankine; 2017], Lurex [2022].]

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