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Loving Life, Fairy Tale, Maenadic

Loving Life
Enough to open eyes that seem encased
in iron, a maiden clamping tight a face
that’s puckered, lined, each shadow leaves a trace
of pain engraved in grey of youth erased.
Enough to stretch an arm Allecto’s laced
with poison, leaden, hardened into place,
to touch a frozen foot in pace on pace,
and start another day in dazzled daze.
What keeps each lung inflating, beat by beat,
to breathe the winter chill, and still to stand,
and step, from bed, to shower, to chair, to keys?
Perhaps it’s God, perhaps it’s merely meat
in need of blood, from heart to head to hand.
What is a life except to wake and please?

Fairy Tale
Sometimes I think about Rapunzel’s hair
combed and brushed and plaited every day.
She must have known she could have cut it off

She must have chosen to remain in that high tower,
queer femme, her lover witch a secret secret.
Break ups are hard, especially when they keep
the key.

Of course she could have hacked her locks, climbed down
and found another life, another tower,
without that man she’d claim had saved her life,
pure spite.




In this dark Devon village, cusp of the moor,
Dionysus has opened a bar for initiates,
Their Instagram followers, selected sophisticates,
decadent party girls, stylized and sense-poor.

The hush falls, eyes glint all vodka and coke-crazed,
They’re here, here, all lamé and leather,
skin scoured by rain, gold-gleaming and feral,
our screams reach the sky: give us the end days.

We rip through Versace, hurl Jimmy Choos gorsewards
– a wild pony scampers, recalls her Euripides –
white teeth taste rust-coloured, frothing fresh avarice,
run shrieks our god, io, io, onwards.

Clare M Coombe is a queer feminist writer, with particular interests in mythology and the body. She also writes about living with anorexia and MECFS. Her latest novel, Nereid Song, is out now. Clare lives in Kent, UK, with two cats, two rabbits, and a miniature dachshund called Gatsby. Twitter: @claremcoombe

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