Radka Thea Otípková

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the poet

Though her first language is Czech, Radka Thea Otípková fell in love with English as a young adult. Her poetry has been featured in B O D Y, The North, Moria and Tears in the Fence. In 2017, her pamphlet The Edge of Anything was shortlisted in the Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Competition. Her poem Coup de grâce was shortlisted in the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition that same year. Thea won the Waltham Forest Poetry Competition in 2019, and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

the poems

Tut’s Tomb Talks

00:00 / 01:17
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            I am waiting for you. Part of my wall

            will need to go to get you in. It will

            never heal, this is how they'll find me,

            small, perfunctory, unfit for a king, but

            I'll hold it all: chariots, thrones, trumpets,

            perfumes, precious oils, lapis and gold,

            and apricots, oh, apricots, I'll often

            imagine them perishing in the dark long after

            they have gone, I'll recall the odour of lamb

            changing in strength, from a mere waft

            to a putrid punch – who'd ever think

            in cessation there is so much life – no,

            no eternity's resins and balms

            can stop the bustle of dying in the jars

            housing your liver and lungs,

            or in the muffled echo of your anatomy's

            final sarcophagus. I'll never miss you.

            You will never not be with me

            and when even the deaths have died

            and there's nothing left but desiccated time,

            I shall still keep the breathing riddle of you

            inside your missing heart.

Marble

00:00 / 00:45
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                               Trace its veins and swirls.

                               Speak of impurities. Say

                               clay, silt, sand. Say chert.

                               Say guilt. Forgive me.

                               Send the light unstonily deep,

                               let it spill onto its ashen

                               wax. Mramor, marmor,

                               marmo, marmori, go,

                               look for it, find it in any

                               language, any it, any us,

                               any you, any torpor,

                               any suspended hope,

                               close its cold

                               graceful finger

                               in your warm,

                               wet, mortal mouth

                               and wait for it

                               to prune.

Coup de grâce

00:00 / 01:08
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            In the end his body puked him out

            as if it were only a stomach

            and a mouth. It didn't let him

            just slip away.


            But maybe it matters less than we think.


            Look at his mother. There she is. No longer

            tearing at the meat of what remains,

            but opening the window.


            The night is there.


            What can you do but make a simple gesture

            that might mean anything. Hand on chest.

            Fingertips on lips. Or just stand

            however gravity wants you to.


            The night

            is launching

            a skin boat.


            No prayers are heard.


            If you lean out a little, you’ll see it too.

            The night. The moon.

            The overflowing eye of a fish

            cooking.

Publishing credits

Tut's Tomb Talks / Coup de grâce: B O D Y

Marble: Tears in the Fence