Kittie Belltree

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the poet

Kittie Belltree is a Specialist Tutor for neurodivergent students at Aberystwyth University. She received a Literature Wales bursary for her debut collection, Sliced Tongue and Pearl Cufflinks. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Cut on the Bias, Heartland, The Brown Envelope Book and Cast a Long Shadow. Kittie was recently selected for the Representing Wales Writer Development Programme, supporting writers from low income backgrounds. She's hard at work on a novel, and writing her second poetry collection.

the poems

The Magician’s Daughter

In the fairy stories, the daughters love their fathers

because they are mighty princes, great rulers,

and because such absolute power seduces.


~ Carolyn Steedman ~

Landscape for a Good Woman

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            He draws a silk scarf from a secret pocket in his trousers – snakes
            it around wrists, splits in two, twists it taut, like her vocal cords,

            places it over her eggshell eyelids, then offers his hand – white-gloved

            bowing low, he lets loose the stolen jewels lining his jacket.


            She accepts – blindly – curtseying into the citrine shaft

            of spotlight that slices the stage in half, then footsteps
            into the dead-flat chest, arranges herself – doll-like – inside

            before he lays the wooden lid to rest.


            Until now he has kept her for himself, fed on a diet of sliced

            tongue and pearl cufflinks. The ritual begins before the stage

            door, before the audience, the dressing room – where he inserts

            the knife into her velvet and feathers, plucks


            her hair into tucks and tresses, places a glass
            slipper on her pillow. Thus, he enters without breaking
            and she slips seamlessly into the space conjured by his third wife

            who broke all his spells while he snored by the stove


            after Saturday matinée, stole the key to his best hat box

            for her whale-bone combs and peacock frocks
            and vanished with a ventriloquist from Vladivostok.
            He feels the thickness of the blade like honey inside her


            and the strength of his heaving old magic. Why, his wand

            can cut her in two – separate her bones from her meat

            like halving a peach. She is ripe, now, for his next trick –


            Now he has her undone, he will make her disappear. Now –

Austerity

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                  Dirty rat. You’re a fat duck

                  in the House of Lords, fiddling expenses,

                  pinching, farting. You insinuate intemperance,


                  an excess of back-bedrooms, a debauched

                  dissipation in disability benefits, washed down

                  by a superfluity of free school dinners and social care.


                  You point parsimonious fingers into porky pies.

                  You lie with the fishes, the figures.

                  You’re a tight-fisted wrecking ball, punch


                  drunk on stuffing filthy wads into greasy palms

                  and off-shore pension pots. You’re out to lunch,

                  insatiable, voraciously force-feeding families


                  into food banks, mincemeat, rent arrears, debt.

                  You’re a champagne Charlie Chancellor

                  of The Exchequer who neglects to check. You’re specks


                  of white powder smirching naughty nostrils.

                  You’re a glut of gluttony gutting kitchen cupboards, a

                  rip-roaring rusty tin opener doing dentistry


                  on the NHS; an overweight authority

                  on obsessive abscission-making; on cutting

                  things cuttingly; thinking yeah, what the fuck.

Bond

In 1945, August DeMont drove to the Golden Gate Bridge with

his five-year-old daughter, Marilyn; told her to climb over the

rail and jump. She did so without hesitation. Seconds later,

he dived 'gracefully' after her. A note left in the car stated:

'I and my daughter have committed suicide.'

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                          i


                        For that was the fact of the matter.

                        The fact of the matter in a sentence.

                        A punishment.   The blunt force

                        of its grammar.   Pragmatic

                        punctuation precise enough to slice

                        through time like a seam.


                        That night, the rain fell in short, pattering

                        clusters. Your clothes moaned in the closet.

                        A dog slipped out into the dark.

                        The quiet fact of the matter.

                        Seven words for sadness.

                        Words like stones.


                          ii


                        She never spoke.    Someone said

                        the car seat was still warm when

                        they found the note.


                        The matter-of-fact fumbling

                        at the rubble of my heart.

                        A cigarette butt tossed into space.


                          iii


                        How to smother    a black

                        hole    revoke    the  last

                        wordless   slam

                        of doors    annul

                        the  unspoken bond

                        deeper    than any    drop

                        leaving me    done

                        with life.    A sentence    followed by


                                                          a full stop.

Publishing credits

The Magician’s Daughter: The Lampeter Review (No. 11)

Austerity: The Morning Star (May 21st 2020)

Bond: Poetry Wales (Vol. 54, No. 1)