You wanted it all


I get it now. There are many different ways of coming

close to heaven, you say and I’m listening


but outside the angel is dancing on burning leaves

and I’m wondering how long this pill takes to kick in.


What do you mean heaven is a material thing?

You don’t answer because there are many answers


and there are many ways of explaining the puffy eyed bliss

of leaning back on a stinking sofa with nothing but


a pipe in your hand. That bliss is quantifiable

in terms of dosage, monetary dosage,


but what of the day you walked across a street paved

with the pages of your autobiography; starstruck


by red brick, iron railings, when you stopped

overcome with the desire to freeze frame the blue house


that looked like a beautiful woman

winking at you,


you did nothing to preserve the calm you felt, did you?



Gang Signs


The classroom is thick with

end-of-the-day Friday fidget.

I can’t stop remote control eyes

falling from the board,

falling from GCSE to park bench.

I can’t stop these kids, these kids are bricking it

throwing up gang signs to soften the fall.

One boy, at the back, doesn’t want to know

wants to be on road or in military tunnels

hitting LOL on spliff dusty keyboards,

doesn’t want to ‘learn how to learn’

with tables and goals on boards,

I don’t learn like that Miss;

I know myself- trust.

He is sitting at a table Jack Jones,

two girls whisper he’s just noise,

they don’t like his hair

or is it the way his trackies sag?

There never is a good time for questions

when your body is a construction site.

Outside cranes play at ballroom dancing

swapping bedtime stories for a

champagne smirk. Blessed for nothing,

these kids breathe the river, but

these kids slip through cracks

in Westminster Bridge.

I can’t hold their eyes, can’t

show them strength or

reasons to try. I struggle to keep their eyes

on whiteboards, on text books, on Apple Macs;

never the river bed with its brittle glass

stained with beer cans. I look to him

with his screen-red eyes, you are brave.

he puts his hand up,  taunting.

Watch how we fall

out of line.





Don’t look at the sun, it is life,

but life can hurt, I know hurt

when I see it.


And I try to fade, and the children

are wearing cardboard sunglasses,

and they are laughing, they are laughing

at their  robotic profiles; they shield

their eyes from sight, little vacuums

of light. But I’m not sure they understand

the severity of burning eyes.


Maybe they are watching

the shapes of the day play acid trip

on their eyelids, maybe they don’t

know anything about acid, maybe

their parents have taken

casual drugs, on the sofa,

in front of cartoons, maybe

they think this is another episode of

adults tripping balls.


Or maybe, they, like me, like

all of us here today, are hoping

for darkness, or an explosion, I know

there is nothing to fear, nothing

beyond the clouds, nothing to

swallow hope at half past ten

on a Friday,


but blindness keeps me interested,

the blistering of burns, the omniscience

of lampposts, the familiarity of pain,

tricking shadows.


I could dance in this light

but the children are hiding,


Dear God,

the children think the world is ending,

now is a good time to show face.


A child looks up, for a joke,

I feel a generation of parents gasp

and  distract the girl by drawing

her attention to the pigeons

on the red slate roof that resemble

a gathering of sleeping soldiers, but

am stopped dead when I see her eyes

like leaves disintegrating;


she runs inside, I follow and find

all the children looking in the mirror

crying something incomprehensible

about the disappearing sun.



Sophie Fenella is a writer and performer originally from London. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines such as Popshot, Magma, Eyewear, The Rialto, The Morning Star, and she has performed her poetry at many festivals and events in the UK and Germany. Read more of Sophie’s work here.

Photo: Kevin Dooley