POEM FOR BEN

In honour of World Poetry Day, read Helen Mort’s poem on writing poems, inspired by a rejection letter sent to her friend. Illustration by Yulia Yakushova.

When they ask you to send tamer poems
what they want is the ocean in a pint glass:
a sample of the flint-pale sea, scooped up
and shown off on a coffee table.

There! Beside the tasteful magazines
it makes a girdled centrepiece. Your friends
stoop to admire: we must get one ourselves —
a single rose is so passé...

But in your living room, the ocean’s
tideless and undrinkable, a moth
caught in a jar that gives up battering
against the sides, and rests.

So while they watch, take up the glass
as if you meant to hold it to the light
then throw it hard against the wall,
stand back to watch the paper darken

at the sea’s least touch, the glass
go shivering to the floor,
then put your bleeding hand
up to your mouth and taste its salt.



'Poem for Ben' was published in Popshot's 3rd issue, The Liberate Issue, which is available to buy here.