Jessica Traynor

‘Three Card Spread’ is taken from Aug/Sep 2022 of The London Magazine. ‘And then the water’ is taken from the Oct/Nov 2022 issue. 

Three Card Spread

(The Lovers/ The King of Wands/ The Queen of Swords)

so            the cards say:
……………………..he wants you
the rock rises up between us                          the angel
………..looks away
…………………… landscape here that wouldn’t
………..break our ankles
no bed to lie in           but plenty of trees
to fuck against
no more wand jokes         i want to lick your ankles
                                              –          is that a bit much?
                                 i’m just here on my throne
and my wrists are so tired
………..from holding this big sword
……………………and your ankles are the only thing
i could damage
……… don’t look me in the eye
……………………it’s like that poem we read about leaves unfurling
………..but we don’t know what to do with ours
i could give you apples
i could give you worms


And then the water

This time I was riding alongside it,
on the top deck of a bus,
as it plateaued out into a fjord,
courting the horizon’s meniscus –
cloud kissing sky kissing sea –
but a wave was rising, strangely,
from the shore out to sea,
coasting alongside me,
a weather mountain with its storm eye closed.
The danger pulled the water in my cells
towards my skin until the road crumbled
and then the water was all around me –
window glass licked grey by swell,
engine choked under my hips,
and I was grasping for the emergency hammer
so I could smash the glass,
get inside the water before
it got inside of me.


Jessica Traynor is a poet, essayist and librettist. Her debut collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award and in 2016 was named one of the best poetry debuts of the past five years on Her second collection, The Quick, was a 2019 Irish Times poetry choice. A Place of Pointed Stones, a pamphlet commissioned by Offaly County Council, was published by The Salvage Press in 2021. Her third collection, Pit Lullabies, was published by Bloodaxe Books in March 2022. It is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. She is Poetry Editor at Banshee.

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