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Quick, Emily Has Sellotaped Us to the Fridge Again

Your butterfly, pink and big as a number 35 bus

nosedives, wings squiggled, its antennae sort-of bursting into

what used to be a portrait of your best friend at school, Eddy

who has become a scribbled-out cloud. All we can see

of his hand salutes like Wile E. Coyote

in a fizzle of smoke and

a drop. Below a crease in the paper, Floosy the neighbour’s pitbull grins

at his new bone the size of a telephone box in the park.

We must savour the anticipation of its burial, as you, our artist, is eager

to chromatically intensify the scene before

nunny ice cream. Your mother and your sister and you and I smile

the way four tipped plates of spaghetti might smile.

And look just how superbly happy we are,

as the gargantuan Butterfly of Death

plummets towards the whole family – even now,

in the face of disaster we’ve taken a moment

to face the same way and say ‘Cheese’ as the sun, 92 million miles

closer, engulfs one quarter of the sky.

And we’re oblivious to the higgledy-piggledy felt tip dashes of the sun’s

thermonuclear rays which will probably incinerate everybody.

Utterly transparent cars swerve off Ullswater Road

and it’s too late for Eddy the cloud, and probably for us too.

Seconds from the solar paroxysm, the non-figurative

representation of your sister is being sucked into space.

You have portrayed her here, where she levitates in green, just as the sub-tectonic bulge

in the planet’s surface signals the imminent disintegration

of all coherence on Earth. A rainbow of soggy magma already plumes

out of the top of our flat. The sadness of the computer

next to me, but through our heads, our names rise over each other

as if we are singing them across the growing noise of the hoover and

up to the aeroplanes, like your-hand-over-your-mouth-laughter

like Daddy is so silly,

like this is just the way the world is now, and not…

not the end of it.

Harry Man’s poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies including ‘Poems in the Waiting Room’ and ‘The Grand Tour’, an anthology of poets from throughout Europe. He was the winner of the Bridges of Struga Award and was selected for Poem of the North.  ‘Finders Keepers’, a collaboration with the artist Sophie Gainsley, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. You can find more of his work at

Image by Julio Pablo Vázquez

collapse, poetry

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