Emma Simon – four poems

Good Advice is Like Sensible Shoes

but we’ve all spent nights under glitterball stars in red stilettos.
You’ll hurt and slip. But savour the deep bone ache after,
lying in bed alone, feet unfurling.

Flip flops offer no support. They’re giggly friends
who get you drunk, whisper untruths about colleagues,
for this they should be cherished.

Storm into a boardroom in snow shoes. Go barefoot
to a dinner party. Do not apologise.
Cultivate your inner winkle picker.

Wince through the skinned heels. Soon you’ll mend
broken hearts with elastoplasts. It’s not just ballerinas
who dance the impossible.

Warm your fluffiest slippers close to the fire,
near as you dare. Your thoughts are as fish-like as toes –
let them wiggle.

Season Finale
for Alison

I can’t remember now if Dr. Ross ever married
the dark haired nurse.

All I know is I was the first to arrive,
you listened, and poured the wine.

Then listened again, as Alex, then Jo, then Grace
each tucked into the crisps and outrage.

Some things in the Emergency Room are always the same
that rookie medic struggling with a central line,

so it must have been Rose who said
men are such fucking idiots,

and Eleanor who rolled her eyes to show
just how much she’d never liked him.

And by the time the defibrillators shocked
the man who’d had the cardiac arrest

– or possibly the carjacker caught in crossfire –
back to life, I felt a little loved again.

Dr Greene was still going to die,
but from the kitchen I could hear you muttering

bastard bastard over the end credits.


This is the year everyone forgot
to tiptoe round you. No warning look
shot at the kids: don’t play her up
No squeeze on the shoulder.

Six years. If it was a wedding
you’d be unwrapping iron
something wrought and heavy.
But there’s no present. No cards

saying I’m sorry for your loss.
Because it still is. The time between
loops back, dissolves
like surgeons’ stitches on such days.

She’d have remembered though.
Sent flowers or phoned that night,
found some excuse to chat
just to check that you’re alright.

Self-Defence for 14-year olds

We were armed with house keys
ready to jab a windpipe, poke an eye.
Don’t go for the groin Mr Akira warned
too predictable, as he grabbed
an incoming knee, slid his foot forward,
sent Lisa sprawling to the floor.

Taught to make a proper fist,
we’d pivot and kick with the grace
of prima ballerinas in Doc Martens.
Discovered diaphragms, how to expel
a HUH! with such force it could repel
any would-be bag snatcher.

Walk like you’re jujitsu Masters, girls.
We’d pace dark alleys spaced
between gym mats, light as cats.
Turn to face crouched muggers,
– a knife-thin glint of braced teeth –
as they charged with foam cushions.

I’ve not had any student raped
or murdered yet. So we drilled punches,
Tuesdays, in the rec. Something automatic
to fall back on, like French verbs or piano scales.
Marched out in outsized Wham! t-shirts,
confident we’d never let him down.

Emma Simon has had poems published in a number of magazines, including Obsessed With Pipework, Bare Fiction and The Interpreter’s House. She was an active member of Jo Bell’s 52 project, and this year is one of the poets chosen to be mentored as part of the Arvon/Jerwood mentoring scheme. Emma lives in London where she also works as a freelance copywriter.

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