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A List of Things





In this offbeat love poem, the rather surprising orientation of Claire Askew’s narrative voice, realized only in the final two stanzas, indicates the speaker’s complex yet refreshingly unassuming understanding of love. 



A list of things you live among:
the odd socks and the Pringles tubes,
old coffee cups undead with scum,
dust thick as moss.

Curtains hanging slightly off;
a shrug of fading crimson flowers
that fold and clot like lovely cunts.
The sloppy shock of unearthed tupperware.

Tissues slowly unballing their fists,
a snicker of bills, the desk I itch
to take a match to. Hangdog shoes,
the floorboards' trademark spooky creak.

In the big, wonky elbow of the bed
you blush and sulk, apologise.
Around us, ecosystems thrive:
the room is a hoarse and rustling song.

We lie like a pair of dirty spoons
and I think out this poem
in time with your breath:
I am part of the stuff

you've accrued and this
is a list of things I love about you.








Claire Askew's work has featured in numerous publications including The Edinburgh Review, Poetry Scotland and The Guardian. Her first pamphlet collection, The Mermaid and the Sailors, was published by Red Squirrel Press in Spring 2011 and was shortlisted for a 2010 Eric Gregory Award. Claire has also been awarded the 2008 Grierson Verse Prize, the 2008 Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry, and the 2010 Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize, among others. Her poems have been twice selected to appear in the Scottish Poetry Library's Best Scottish Poems of the Year anthology, in 2008 and 2009. As well as writing poetry, Claire also runs a poetry micropress producing limited print runs of handmade chapbooks, the latest of which is Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg which features contemporary poets' responses to Ginsberg's classic works. Claire is also a lecturer at Edinburgh's Telford College and a creative writing tutor with the University of Edinburgh, where she is reading for a PhD. She lives in Edinburgh with fellow lecturer and concrete poet Stephen Welsh, and blogs at

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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