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2 poems

Emma Mackilligin


The scarlet hour fades,
We pack up party dresses
And untangle pearls
Before shedding our ballroom skin.
The gauzy layers fall away
As we creep from smoke and musk
Back into softly focused youth.
We keep the lights on,
Whisper giggles, our voices dim
Because the air is violet now,
The shadows innocent and smooth.
We’ll turn on taps and clamber in
While the water’s warm, steam rising,
Knees around chins, foam around cheeks,
You splash my chest, I wet your hair
We scrub our faces naked.
Pink and young and perfect here
Because the night is lilac now
And shadows continue to fade
Under dormitory lights before dawn.


Cities of Gold and Mirrors

They soak themselves,
Skin, lips, organs in whiskey, tequila
By the bottle.
On the shores of manmade lakes
In the shadows of machine-made towers
They jostle, slouch,
Near naked skin burning dry
As they dull their brains
Under a sign that reads ‘Dreams’
On a block of concrete
Colour of artificial peaches.
The sun is eclipsed by neon lights:
They wear less, drink more,
Dance the dance of being alive,
Chase lasers through half-closed eyes.

Four miles south
Highways become dust
And he’s dancing the dance of the dead
Among ruined stones
Colour of stone,
Carved into sacred geometry
By hands burned dry under ancient sun.
As it sets
Shadows lengthen,
Soak him in ochre,
Orange, red,
Seen with eyes half-open,
The rays fall through cracks in walls,
Dictate the beat,
Of his dance to the dead.

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