And so it begins, Cheater, Exit Lines

 And so it begins

Perhaps is an attitude, a stance
        that affects my ankle bones,
makes them wobble, decide to chance
        a walk in my big-girl boots.

Delay is an escape valve, always,
        from the danger of decision.
I’ll dig a hole to play inside,
        bury the bones of should-be-like

then move to sit in sunlight
        drugged and drowsy with the thought
of you thinking of me as I’m thinking of you.
        This is how electricity works.



It wasn’t meant to be anything more. An experiment,
to dissolve myself in chemicals and seep into his bed
for further heat treatment or chromatographic test

that spread my colours until my legs turned blue,
for I was in the wrong place, edges compromised
acid-etched (the square pegs must be smoothed

or burnt thinner than they are). At twenty, as now,
I would have died to fit his frame—was hard at work
on my factory floor getting ladders out of stores,

making lockpick kits, pining for gone. Still, from time
to time, a logged-out look. Her blonde with mine,
the sofa throw, holidays, those names they chose

together and imagine making the best, my arms too full
to ask where he was all evening. That secret second phone.


Exit Lines

She stumbles to my car
coat gathered to throat
        in that hot Marilyn way
for we copy the films,
fuck, point finger-guns,
        yell BANG. Don’t die–

not yet. Faster, faster,
she’s planned our escape.
        It’ll only hurt if you brake.




Annabel Banks read English at Cambridge before gaining her Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently writing up her practice-based poetry PhD while lecturing in English and Creative Writing for Falmouth University and running poetry workshops in ruined buildings and archives. Annabel’s work has won some prizes, most notably the Cambridge University Ryan/Kinsella poetry prize, the “Other” Prize for theatre, and the Whitechapel Journal short fiction prize. Her short fiction is has been collected in a number of anthologies and is most recently published by Litro. Recent poems can be found in Inky Needles, Envoi, Jungftak, Dirty Chai and Lockjaw. Learn more at or tweet @annabelwrites

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