Robin Houghton's fourth pamphlet, Why? And other questions was a joint winner of the 2019 Live Canon Pamphlet Competition. She's been published widely in magazines and anthologies, won and been placed in a number of competitions, and was longlisted in the 2020 National Poetry Competition. Robin is the author of A Guide to Getting Published in UK Poetry Magazines, and is currently working towards an MA in Poetry and Poetics at the University of York.
Tours of Haunted London
#72: Nilsson's Flat
etched glass over twin sinks & a chrome stand where they say
Mama Cass laid her felted hat – getting her groove on baby
after a gig or after dark it was free-fall – highballs of ice jiggling
beads on necks – boogying on brandy & speed – playing zig-zag
here was a black velvet couch – the one the cops dusted for dabs
if the front door goes it's Harry – back from the Playboy Club
with Cass gone they modernised the kitchen – it wasn't a sandwich
that killed her – Rolling Stone was wrong! – fans still leave flowers
in the lift shaft – this room stinks of puke and night sweats
any questions? – yes you can use the loo – check out the graffiti
at dawn the building shakes with the screams of Moon – cook me
a steak or fuck off – just one last wild man story of many
breaking Cass's tired heart again – like a scratched rumour
you can just make out – can't live if living is without you
he was thirty-two as well – some say a ley line was disturbed
the block's coming down soon – feel how cold the plaster is
Harry sold up to Pete & the couch went to auction – look look!
here's Cass about to call home – cream handset off the hook –
There are five of us in this taxi and my phone rings.
The couple in front chat with the driver and my husband holds my hand.
My brother is calling me from another country and he's with my mother.
The driver sees my face in the rearview mirror and he knows.
The plane won't wait for me and we are hours from the airport.
The driver is speeding and the couple in front are chatting.
My brother's voice is strange and I don't know what to say to him.
My husband holds my hand and we are hours from the airport.
The couple in front are whispering and the driver is speeding.
My mother had asked when I'd be back but she didn't wait for me.
I will write about this one day. Maybe I'll change the ending.
New Cross Evensong
we are friends at Surrey Quays swaying
like seventies buses at home time your hand
holding just higher than mine shifting
position with each inch of space won those
inexplicable smells – moth balls, bubble gum –
all of South London is in the carriage
I recognise the glum unspeaking feel
some comfort in it everyone in black
we are now approaching a blessed silence
eyes down for scrolling up for sighing
let's take all the time we have idle-time
all over us a train gently jilting its payload
as usual let's rock along the ginger line
hovercraft the old routes the Roman roads
unpeeled tram tracks gone the tower blocks
we hardly recognise each other now deep
south through the gaps in the script old maps
clocking off this is where I came to play
I sing this time of day this reverie
and tomorrow there will be blueprints sheets
to spread for some of us skin to tattoo
Tours of Haunted London: #72 Nilsson’s Flat: Prole (Issue 32)
Missed: Why? And other questions (Live Canon)
New Cross Evensong: Live Canon 2019 Poetry Prize Anthology