Peter Scalpello

Two Poems from Limbic

The following poems are from Peter Scalpello‘s collection Limbic, published by Cipher Press. The collection explores masculinity, queer joy, chemsex, the stigma around HIV, shame, and much more besides. To order a copy, visit Cipher Press.

I Need A Break

newsflash—i was three years old—so it wasn’t my fault—you
don’t get over—something like that—effortlessly—it follows—you
everywhere—makes you—a lovely low-life—all party and no
play—made me—a dull boy indeed—sat out the best—part of a
double—decade on extra-terrestrial—yearning wouldn’t call
—home for skeletal—weeks wrapped round—the same bones but
broke—this nose three—no—four times—i need a break—like
those surgical—morphine interludes—like a train departing—
from a more-emotional-than-expected—hook up—i no longer
feel—capable of placating the other—in order just to feel—safe
—yes—does more harm—than good to me—these days i wonder—
about you as i stuff—the machine with more dungarees—than it
can hold as if—housekeeping were a body’s—way of washing
out—memory—chips in the rain—with mum under a bus—shelter
after you stormed—out on the social worker and—us gorging
through—the ambiguity of this condition—ed free-thought
—compared to the incidental—inherited violence we share—
which i can rationalise—now—see—my hair’s longer—i only drink
tennent’s—at breakfast with latoya—jackson on vinyl and
persecution—as a footnote—acrylics on all my toenails—you
mightn’t recognise—me if you even admitted—it to yourself

Be Your Own

our one seeing eye

rises and sets

facing away

from the mush of my twenties,

a decade’s worth of pills

disintegrates into white

particles in my blood and bile

all at once.

Like the weight of us

remade of dust

and gradually blown away

at rates depending

on the wind,

we are not our desire,

but the places we move

through to satisfy it.

For me

it’s meant carving myself

into being enough for

the desires of another,

and you—

That conflict of masculinity,

itself a conflict of masculinity

and femininity,

elsewhere entities

grabbing at the breath we leave behind.

You’re there

as I draw out a new life,

nib to nib,

two spirals closing inwards

like our shared prognosis.

Push and give of indefinite time,

the ignorance to resent

what we would eventually turn into.

If our fragments settle

along the breeze, maybe

we’d be patched back together.

’Til then,

I can be my own daddy.

Peter Scalpello is a Glasgow born poet who currently lives in London where he works as a sexual health therapist for the NHS. 

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