Two poems by Holly Singlehurst

Witch Burning

After Sylvia Plath

‘My ankles brighten. Brightness ascends my thighs.
I am lost, I am lost, in the robes of all this light.’ – Sylvia Plath


Her mouth makes the sound of a kettle whistle –
high, sharp, spinning into air like smoke. I watch.
Everyone around her watches. Her body peeling back
on itself to reveal a wet heart, all of her beautiful organs.

When a man makes miracles happen he is God,
and when a woman walks on water she is burnt,
boiled to black bone, aware of her poached flesh
melting into flames – hot at her heels, inevitable.

They say she placed warm milk by her sleeping children
in case they woke up, blocked the gap under their door,
placed her head in the oven – thought sweet apple pie,
rack of lamb, fresh bread. She turned the gas on.


The Mackerel (1903)

After Pablo Picasso


Picasso holds his penis over the toilet.
In the bowl his piss is dark orange,
it moves through the water like ink.

He uses his left hand to shake himself,
lifts the other to his face. His body aches.
His fingers smell of women and tobacco.

Back at the easel, he wets his brush,
spreads her thighs. One large eye and
no scales – his tongue slips straight in.


(both poems previously unpublished)


Holly Singlehurst currently lives and works in Cambridge. She graduated from Birmingham University with a Master’s in Creative Writing in 2016, after studying Music and English Literature for her undergraduate degree. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Bridport Prize, and was commended in the 2016 National Poetry Competition for her poem ‘Hiroshima, 1961’. Twitter: @HJSinglehurst