Issue 5: Emily Critchley

A Final Sonnet            

(for Luke Heighton)


I can’t         simply, & why would I         complicatedly


             give up what’s been so brutishly             suspended,

             so animated,

even tho this         shared life             which, travelling backwards,           

separates a self

from a different self.            

                                           Another               woman writes so damn

alone                               society stamps & digs her heels again &,

willing the sweet home-coming,

involving ready demeaning portraiture,

like so much future Art House, hopes.


Then, in a different joke, about which laughing / working / loving differently &
better, & so on...

Which told,                she has gotten older.


Dear Luke,                               It’s 5.15pm.

All these people in a tube crushed in together –


I write across the soft wires & the hard wires

& all collective unknowns

in a bid to guess that you’re the other side this train,

& no one knows it.


                              The crisis in my head – it’ll keep till dawn.


Till then I wanted you to feel –

from where I scrooch –   there is no blame

                             (eye-deep in someone else’s elbow).

This city’s musculature, it spits me out at Greenwich,

                              where I stay, feelingly, for news.


Till then, so long.




In Greenwich, not in Rome,

that must be why I work my fingers to the bone.


The judgment                        it will fall

so heavy later                        amidst the politicians, popes & poets;

the greedy men & empty grass, & leaves of mud, & women on their knees –

who only tried to love as you love.


But let me not escape it!                                     Rather,

let it not fall too hard through me!


Solicitude is harsh but you’re harsher.

& next time we’re together:

let’s put me to work or loose me in the crowd,

where romance doesn’t fit or isn’t apt,

&, unresponsively, I’ll promise to learn nothing at all frm it

                   – if you’ll promise to teach me.




You jerk you didn’t write me back.

& when you did, yr smile was Cambridge-shaped, judgmental.

I’m sick of all you bourgeois boys – who haven’t read Catullus or understood him –

so I think you into the same shape,

& knock you into the same size:

like this & this & this.

That way, the next time you come in the room I’m primed

& ready with my gluegun. To wipe up tears

& spill the beans, to make it so much worse

& arm you to the teeth wth all my paranoia.

O lovely paranoia; I give it you freely.

Go fuck yourselves –




Not home to myself this evening, nor to anyone this morning, regretting how,

O Luke, I had a brittle ’scape!

Love’s sweet brine disguised in a crab claw

nearly plucked the big secret out of me. 

Now all the world’s like a long hard drive from Greenwich to Topeka.


Won’t you hang on in there, Luke?

I’m seasick & the room’s




Avec fond memories


The would be            falling out of joint

loosed among curbs; the light               thoughtless slinking


I am here

tho Marilyn was murdered

& the labels they stick on things

– perverse!

‘Radical’ for that same old worn old habitus,

‘Kookiness’ for such pricks.


the thought of smiling, freigeist you,

trundling through yr mind

missing / not missing

that I love –


just not to come anywhere near.



Ain’t gonna work on our farm no more –


I mean, our garden –

because, yes, I promised you annihilation,

no neat fountain / belonging.

While you sucker-punched me wth an ancient adoration

enough to peel the frescoes off Vesuvius’ walls

then –


Luke, you should be worried.

2 days wthout a word

now we’re supposed to be ensnared & fallen:

a silence that puts mountains & deep woods to shame.


Not to mention this latest trick of stumbling amidst mountains & deep woods !

cruelly timed to withdraw frm the fall out


which is this: a falling out & off & over

happy you.

Emily Critchley was born in Athens, Greece, and studied at Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge universities in the UK. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich. Collections of her poetry have been published by Arehouse press (2004 and 2005); Bad Press (2006); Dusie (2007); Oystercatcher (2008) & Torque Press (2010). Her work has also appeared in HOW2, Onedit, Openned, Pilot, Plantarchy, Quid, Default, Intercapillary Space, ‘in blossoms atop reeds it flares’, Dusie, Skald, Archive of the Now, delirious hem, The Argotist Online, The Chicago Review, The Cambridge Literary Review, & she is one of the featured poets in the recent Shearsman Anthology: Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (2010).