Lorna Thorpe has published three books of poetry, been awarded a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Exeter.
3 a.m. on East Houston

It’s as hot as an armpit
in this bookmark of an apartment
in the city that never sleeps: the window,
my eyes cranked open,
trucks belching and sirens whining,
Janine climbing the walls –
out of Paxil, she can’t understand why
Angelina Jolie doesn’t answer her emails –
and me trying to remember what the hell
I’m doing 3,000 miles from the place
I optimistically call home. I wish
it wasn’t Easter. Crucifixion, resurrection,
that whole rolling back the stone thing
– it kills me every time.

Andromeda imagines choosing a different author

A marble statue, beautiful but lifeless,
that’s what he mistook me for when he saw me
chained to the rock, naked. By then
I had perfected the art of stillness
of pretending I wasn’t there, petrified
that one wrong move and I’d be consumed
by Cetus, the monster snapping at my feet.
Doubtless the Nereids would have envied
my porcelain complexion and red lips, achieved
not by gazing into polished bronze for hours,
lightening my skin with white lead,
painting my lips with iron oxide and ochre clay
but through sheer terror. Let’s not rile them
again though, my mother’s bragging about my beauty
exceeding theirs got me chained to that wretched rock
in the first place. So thank god for Perseus,
swooping in on winged sandals (shame about those)
when he saw a tear slide down my cheek.
What a hero! Fresh from slaying Medusa
he plunged his blood-stained sword into Cetus,
set me free, took me for his wife. A happy ending
most would say, only … and I hate to be picky,
he was quite a catch, after all – handsome, vigorous,
brave – but I can’t help imagining my story
written by Angela Carter. I see myself in a circus troupe,
the Chained Lady escaping her bonds
in satin corset and net skirt, stockings rolled
to her knees, a blotch of rouge on each cheek,
a pair of wings made of swan’s feathers.
Rather that star-spangled ending than this hallowed place
in the winter sky, hands forever in chains, fixed
until the time-bomb of a galaxy I wear as a halo
collides with the Milky Way and all hell’s let loose.

[‘3 a.m. on East Houston’ appeared in The Echo Room and ‘Andromeda imagines choosing a different author’ was published in Heavenly Bodies, a constellation of poetry (Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, 2014).]
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