Where new writing finds its voice


Molly Naylor

Some cities don’t know how to love you back.
You switch between fictions – 
you’ve been looking for pictures in brick
and when you found them
they were all angles.

I want to grab your hand
run with you to St Paul’s, or the Tate
do a stern face and say look, here is a good man.
You should have made him feel at home.
He only has nice things to say about you.

I want to punch Big Ben in the face
for the lack of gold he laid at your feet
but I can’t blame St Paul’s Cathedral
and all those buildings that give you 
a lump in your throat –
there was nothing they could do.
It’s not that they don’t think it’s bullshit
it just doesn’t hurt them like it hurts you.
St Paul is expecting, any day now,
some young Goldsmiths’ graduate
to project a moustache and glasses onto his dome
because nothing is surprising.

I wanted to kiss you when you said
you didn’t get it –
‘It’s just a shelf with a glass of water on it’ 
and you weren’t afraid of sounding like 
someone who reads the Daily Mail 
you were just wanting to feel something outside of a pub.
All your wanting, it’s like laughter to me –
it’s important.

It’s not the Tate’s fault
although there are rooms I could blame
and I don’t blame you for staying
and all the times you tried to make it mean something – 
odd socks... art?
Deptford... art?
Vomit splashed across shoes... art? 
‘Have you seen The Wire? It’s like Shakespeare, but with guns.’

In the mirror I try and make myself art for you
grin and bear my wonky teeth
wonder where my hips fit into all of this
if I can rise out of the sea perhaps I can make something 
to stop your heart sighing with the chaos of 
obsession with new angles.

I think I can only offer sarcasm
and an alternative to alternative
but no, this isn’t quite true
I can give you big skies.

I can give Tracey Emin the finger 
from the back of the bus
I can soften out some angles with my hips
my lips, twist railway tracks into welcome mats
so you can find a way back to the Thames
and all the tributaries that flow straight to you
will still get you in the gut
and nothing will be art
except the paintings.
Except the light.

And I’ll whisper things to you at parties, like – 
sharks should be in the ocean.
Everybody knows that.