Confessions held by a stained glass door,
glass coloured by tales of affairs and debts,
horses and deaths. So much hanging
in the air, like smoke exhaled in the O
of conversation – of what might have been.
There’s something I’m meant not to know.
And maybe, just maybe, if you could share
a little of what goes on behind that clever exterior,
all those smiles and kisses, if you could tell me
about your men, I think I could be happy
with you, could sit and tell what I haven’t told
a soul, on this three- four- five-beer evening.
I check the barman isn’t by the hatch,
so we can be almost safe – almost sacred.
The beer’s foam eases the jaws, allows the teeth
their glory. We keep on, order another,
money on the hatch – a glimpse of the hand,
the wedding ring. The grouse in the snug’s glass
turns its head as if to try not to hear
what men do. The hatch flap down, we go back
to ourselves, our common theatre, as if to sup
in silence would be a failure, somehow.
I Saw Them Making Love
on a cobbled side street
only it didn’t look like love.
He was small; she was tall
and furious. I walked on,
quickly. I couldn’t help
but think of seaside postcards,
the men with small penises,
the women with huge breasts.
But this was real, a woman
in a party dress, hair up;
the man naked but for a red hat.
You can’t not notice something
like that. Neither of them saw me.
He went thrusting on and on
and on. She leant against
the club’s wall, looking as if this
were happening to someone else.
Katrina Naomi’s poetry has appeared in The TLS, Poetry London and The Poetry Review, and on Radio 4. She is travelling to Japan in autumn 2017, following an Arts Council/British Council award. The Way the Crocodile Taught Me was published by Seren (2016). Katrina was writer-in-residence at the Arnolfini in 2016. Previous publications include: Hooligans, (Rack Press), The Girl with the Cactus Handshake (Templar Poetry), shortlisted for the London New Writers Award, Charlotte Brönte’s Corset (Brönte Society), and Lunch at the Elephant and Castle (Templar Poetry), which won the Templar Pamphlet Competition. Katrina holds a PhD from Goldsmiths. She is a critic and tutor. http://www.katrinanaomi.co.uk