Julia Webb – three poems


the day was fust
there were no birds winging
across the wrung out rag of sky
no tree-rustle or wind-hum
just the flamesome worry
and the persistence of planes
whomping through hungover clouds
it wasn’t a festive outing
nothing was cheery or brightly clean
the heavens were alive
with all the wrong kinds of possibility
we didn’t dare turn on the news
but waited wishing for shelters
contented ourselves
with torch batteries
counting tins


But the river keeps on flowing, choking up with weed like always. There might be fish here if you look hard enough, if the brickworks haven’t left it too polluted. You slept here once, years ago, on the pine-needled ground, food kept in an old metal shopping trolley to deter the rats, his hands on your waist – the hands that would later, the hands that would try and make you take the blame. Why do they have to keep carving up the land, hacking it apart like an old carcass? Here is where your teenage aunt and her longhaired boyfriend tried to scare you; twigs cracking like gunshot behind your back. Nothing exists now but the roar of traffic. Where is the second weir where the boys rode their bikes off the high concrete bank, dropping like stones into the river below?

Office Romance

He is a desk-jockey and no mistake,
riding the nine to five swivel chair,
each working day a rodeo steer
to be lassoed and broken.
Here is an escaped afternoon boiling
over into the people-dense street;
here is a lift stuck between floors.
He is hardwired to the keyboard,
all qwerty-fingered.
When you speak he turns his blank- screen
face towards your voice. A software crash
rolls across the space between you –
everything in an instant frozen.
You are a blip he can’t quite register, a rogue cursor.
After lunch he saddles up again,
and as he gallops past you in the corridor
there’s a momentary flicker.
You find his emails in the spam filter later,
press delete without reading.

Julia Webb is a graduate of UEA’s Poetry MA. She is an editor for Lighthouse, and she works as a creative writing tutor and for Gatehouse Press. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.

Julia Webb – three poems

After identifying your body

We stagger into the cavernous dark
of a pub, weekday afternoon,
stale with beer and grease.
I watch the smoke curl up
from your mother’s lips,
spiralling into light,
we drink I don’t know what.

If you were here we’d be playing pool,
songs lined up on the jukebox,
drinks lined up on the bar,
the blue dust of cue chalk
powdering our hands.

But this day is slow motion
and even though the sun glosses the grass
on Midsummer Common to a slick green foil
and the Cam shivers,
its dark body pinpricked with light,
I am somewhere else:

I am in the boat with the crew
rowing away from here as fast as I can.
And later I am sleeping
with a dog in a pub doorway
my mouth sewn up with red thread,
your name tattooed across my face.

Maternity Ward

Like a flower when the first frost comes –
she is shut up tight, pressed into herself,

her ears are full of ringing phones
and raised voices: a curtain of sound,

while her own mouth emits
a series of beeps and whistles.

In between meals she watches the baby,
trying hard to understand it,

its arms and legs move jerkily
and its mouth howls open.

She can’t distinguish friendly faces, can’t be sure
if real life exists within the room or outside it,

the bed has wheels –
it drives her away while she is sleeping.


The first cut lifts a flap of skin above your ribs,
I admire the brightness of your blood,
the intricacies of bone and muscle,
your spaghetti-junction of arteries,
and probing deeper I find organs
snugly nestled against one another,
lift out the squarish bulk of your heart
and lay it on the kitchen table,
then stand back to admire my work,
it is mine now – this bloody prize
that you could never bring yourself to give me,
I fetch some fishing line and a darning needle
and carefully sew you closed.

Julia Webb is a compulsive writer. She has an MA in Poetry from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing in the community and runs Norwich Stanza and a poetry book group. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse Literary Journal. Her first collection Bird Sisters will be published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.

You can find Julia on Twitter @Julwe1. She blogs at visual-poetics.blogspot.co.uk and her website is at juliawebb.org/blog/