Angela Topping – two poems

Safety Instructions

Use email to aim
wait until you are alone
before replying.
Do not agree to meet.

Do not believe a word.
Take everything to mean
the exact opposite
but realise

one sentence in ten
will be true
and will punch you
in the gut.

Communicate through song
or any other code.
Take rage to mean love,
silence as missing you.

Harbour no regrets
not even on Sundays.
Take a kilner jar
seal up memories

bury it in the darkest
corner of the garden.
Do not mark the spot
with an X.


The What Ifs

not like unwrapping a present
someone you love gives for your birthday
knowing it’s a surprise you’ll enjoy

more like putting your fingers
into the jaws of a black velvet bag
because you have to, don’t want to.

anything could be inside, lying in wait,
to trap you or do harm. You ask yourself
what’s the worst can happen?

Sometimes the worst is getting
the wrong train or being late. Sometimes
there are ways to solve the problem.

But when the worst is death
you know you’re in trouble.
Nor can you stay home fretting.

You’re too young to box yourself up,
disappear into your own armchair,
so ease your hand inside the bag.

Sometimes what’s in there
is a lucky green jade turtle,
cool and composed, on a red silk thread.

Run your fingernail along its carved lines
you can die just as easily
at home without taking risks.


Angela Topping is the author of seven poetry collections and four chapbooks. She is a poetry addict.

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