Introducing the April 2011 Readers – 2. Steven Waling

Steven Waling is a poet from Manchester with a growing reputation (one day, he’ll be a grown-up) and several books with his name on them, such as Travelator (Salt) and Captured Yes (Knives, Forks and Spoons). His work veers from humour to experiment, from serious play to playful seriousness, often in the space of one poem. His work can be found all over the internet, and in his professional work as a creative practitioner has been known to get whole rooms cutting and pasting poems to their heart’s abandon.


He talked in feathery question-marks,
you never got the point of. Nice line
in parlour tricks: I died for real.
I like to think I’m fairly ordinary
but it’s like death follows me round.

I tend to do a lot of thinking
but can’t remember much more:
everything is in his voice:
“Come forth!” he boomed
in best stage voice. I stumbled out,

they tell me. Now half the town points:
“Can you tell us a little more
about yourself?” Dogs, parents
of children who died: Mister Miracle
they call me, from one step behind.

How much he must have loved me.
This light is essential to me
because it hurts. I stank of myrhh
tripped over bandages. Don’t look at me,
I can’t bring them back. How much

the dark keeps creeping underfoot –
though when I’m feeling optimistic
he must have needed me to live –
I’m back there wrapped in quiet,
and every night I wake in sweat.

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