There was a time when I did not live like this.
There was a time when I was the ocean’s whore.
Now I am a hopeless man-pleaser, kissing those small
rubbery toes, arching my back to let them stroke me.
Some of them want to ride me around
in the chlorinated water,
buttocks up, head down: giddy-up water-horsey!
Easy, girl! Down!
Some of them prefer to stare from the poolside
or jacuzzi with whisky and cigars.
When they get bored they pelt me with
peanuts and cigarettes.
My tail split on the hooks, spilt unusual blood
all over them – a fetish thing, I’m sure.
They dowsed me with vodka and it stung.
The operations were the worst.
Poor creature, said the first client when he saw.
He was a young man.
He was nice.
It’s better when they bring another one in.
We hug each other tightly, breasts rubbing,
her lips on my neck – tell me your name,
I say in our native tongue, almost inaudibly.
They always reply.
It’s nights like these when the men make their offers
mid-show. We whisper goodbye too soon,
breathless, smothered in jelly, shivering.
I live for that look we share
as we’re pulled from the water
and carried away on stretchers.
It says, it is amazing
how many men want to touch
a big wet fish!
(Previously published in The Literateur)
Man Found in Cemetery at Dawn
tonight’s the last night
so long I’ve been longing
to grip your lips in moonlight
inhale your little head’s array
of ringlets cold with wintery air
every day for a year
I have walked this way
at eight thirty-five
& five twenty each day
twice every daylight
you have blushed at my cat-calls
twice every day
my wolf-whistles have howled for you
bringing darkness with them
awakening the sleeping fox
you’ve waited long enough my cherub
and now I’m standing
over daddy’s bed
I wrap my nice warm body around you
your wings are cold and pert
against my tongue
your grit sinks into me
as I grit my teeth and feel
the wetted stain around your nape
the living moss between your thighs
the mud oozing through toes
in big juicy worms
Godspeed! they come to light the fire!
I will howl upon it and taste
consummation like sugar
burnt black upon the stove
instead it brings darkness like constricting fur
where each screech is muffled
and laughter sounds within the burrow
and dies upon the air
Mel Pettitt was a finalist for the 2015 Remarque Prize and the winner of the 2016 Even It Up Challenge, a competition organised by the Young Poets Network in association with the Even It Up Oxfam campaign. She has had her poetry published in a number of magazines and journals both online and in print, such as Prole and The Literateur. In 2017 she performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival. She is currently working on her debut collection. Twitter: @melpettittpoet