Issue 18: Denise Riley
(Tom Raworth Memorial)


Appalled, yet flexy as a marionette

remoulded far from children and from men

it tries itself before its own star chamber –

recoils in stammers.  Cannot answer, she.

‘In mounds of rainy violets no aid hides’:

court of itself-condemned admits no plea

of how she tried so hard, or what the petals saw

from their quite harmless rosette of leaves.

Denise Riley's books include War in the Nursery [1983]; ‘Am I that Name?’ [1988]; The Words of Selves [2000]; Denise Riley: Selected Poems [2000]; The Force of Language, with Jean-Jacques Lecercle [2004]; Impersonal Passion [2005], Time Lived, Without Its Flow [2012] and Say Something Back [2016].