I spin in my bed,
my shoulders pulled high and loaded,
the wings of my hips tucked
as if to fit some aperture.
I work rhythmically
from one side to the other
my arms winding and twining
like a thread around my ribcage,
one calf cramping
as my feet close and flex.
My sheet shapes to my friction.
When it comes, it is inevitable.
My toe points a spasm,
my spine locks,
and down I go, turning through the mattress,
foamy swarf rising.
Through and through I twist,
splintering slats, scorching floorboards,
The soil is a brief lick against my cheekbones
before the clay, the warmth,
the undreaming sleep.
We gathered at the edge of things
My face stood firm, but my mind cried –
not for the decisions made,
but for the outcomes.
Together, we walked,
the small, the cowed, and the proud.
For as long as we walked, we could own
if only the path
We were the flaws,
the tails of the bell-curves,
as loathed as those
who discarded us.
But we were not the decisions made.
We were the outcomes.
Yes, there are strings
wrapping our tight chests,
our temples, our pin-striped wrists.
Twisting, one-two, in a bowline hitch.
Yes, there are strings,
Curled in a flexing whip,
our skin waiting, eager and crisp,
for the coils that ping from the shadows.
Yes, there are strings
cracked in a lattice
from lip to purpling lip.
We scream. We are already swallowed.
“Who’s there?” we cry,
and we search for a purposeful hand
well-versed in the weave and the flick,
until they are tails
whilst our ankles
Stargazing in a time of plague
Usually, I tip my head up to the stars,
flare my nostrils and suck them in,
startling and heady.
Normally, I let their enormity fill me,
tripping on great shocks of distance,
my veins thudding in awe.
Tonight, I cannot so much as look at them,
with their extravagant timespans
and their crass wisdom.
Tonight, they are willfully goading me
because they know how I will break
First published in Snakeskin Poetry, June 2020 http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk
Where Tears Are
Sometimes, tears bunch in vertebrae,
cling to an unyielding jaw
or hunker in shoulders.
Sometimes, tears hide in the sacrum
only to flood the belly
when our pace falters.
Sometimes, they are in knees that cannot lift
hands that cannot play,
a mouth that cannot smile
but smiles anyway.
but only sometimes,
First published in Snakeskin Poetry, October 2020 http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk
Bio: Nina Parmenter’s first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Honest Ulsterman, Atrium Poetry, Snakeskin, Allegro Poetry, Green Ink, and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2021, she was winner of the Hedgehog Poetry single poem contest and was nominated for the Forward Prize. She lives in Wiltshire but can be found online at www.ninaparmenter.com or on Twitter @ninaparmenter. A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Nina Parmenter