Issue 4

Two poems

by Thomas Laycock

the oxygen tank

how I loved you when you were asleep
how I watched your eyelids shudder and close

your breathing deepen
your mind estuary into a dream

on the couch with your legs over me
your tights catching the rough skin of my hands

silent, except for the swell and fade
tide of your breasts

as you recycled the air in the room

your face so calm, free from

a figurehead on a wreck
lit by a diver’s flare

I told you everything then
hoping it would hold you like a charm

sway you like a prayer, I wonder now
if it didn’t just wash around you

the noise of distant traffic
or an ocean of trees

perhaps, though, something got through

but distorted - 

the lead voice in a rescue party
muffled by the snow.

the love triangle

the way you stand before yourself, the way
you lean in so close, you might even kiss
the way you stroke lotion into your skin
occurs in some matrix of love, it’s so serious

the way you note every detail, tiny scar, errant mole,
the blue planets of your pupils pulled in by their twins,
a silent communion with the stranger of yourself,
one a little more tender, one a little more critical

I watch you both from outside the circle, I sense
how we blend our different versions into you,
a foundation we lay down day after shortening day.
I am meant to be reading, but you sense otherwise

and when your reflection turns to me and smiles
it’s as though all the years to come were paused,
the wet skin of your back to the open window, beyond
which the summer breeze moves, reflected too, but unseen


Born in West Yorkshire at six o’clock in the morning Thom Laycock has been trying to get some sleep ever since. He has adapted to living in Scotland for the past twenty years by drinking and swearing copiously. He studied Literature and Philosophy at the University of Stirling and graduated in 2003. Thom is not entirely sure what has happened since, but reassures himself that a lot of it was quite interesting. Aside from writing Thom also plays in the cinematic post-metal band Half a Dead Bird. In 2010 he was granted the New Writers Award by the Scottish Book Trust and still hasn’t quite understood what that means.