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Wendy Allen



the poet

Wendy Allen’s poems have appeared in The London Magazine, The North, Propel Magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, Ambit, Poetry Wales and The Moth among others. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Plastic Tubed Little Bird, was published in 2023 by Broken Sleep Books.

the poems

Plastic Tubed Little Bird

00:00 / 01:40

            I hide the tampon within my fingers 

            like I’m holding a tiny, fragile bird.

            Someone once told me this is how 

            my hands should be when I run.

            On the side of an unstained trainer’s edge 

            is a star. In red. On the edge.

            I think of the tiny celestial mark I draw

            in ink on my calendar, always inconspicuous.

            I pretend to look for my phone, pen, a date

            two weeks later. Inside my bag, a yellow wrapper

            the colour of cruel. A creased spring dress

            worn only to celebrate bloodshed.

            I whisper period to you

            in the hope you will turn around.

            You don’t. I shout it out 

            28 times aloud in my head.

            When I empty my Mooncup, the blood

            remains crescent lonely in the daytime bowl.

            I like the absolute discomfort 

            this causes you.

            I envy the plastic backed sanitary sleeping 

            bodies on their unfamiliar coastal beds,

            their one-night stand leaving them free 

            for me to feel their single use guilt.

            A naked tampon in the cervix of my bag

            is exposed only by a useless string lifeline,

            the wrapper from the orange tampon 

            flatlines at the bottom of my bag.

Our Turn to Host

00:00 / 01:25

That the dinner party is ours is a bad start / I open the door / smile / take coats / observe new hair / enhanced romance between the couple we sit down with / every sentence I begin with I self-censor / make sure I’m not going to disclose too much / B notices but she’s got the headfuck rush from the Pata Negra I bought at Madrid Airport / I’m struggling after two glasses of wine and 12 drops of Rescue Remedy / I want to smoke too fast / exhale this shit sham of an evening  / At eight seventeen and we’re one hour and sixteen minutes in / after melon and lamb and Hasselbach potatoes / here is the part when I want to cram soft sponge into my mouth like a gag / this is when B’s husband asks about my job / I'm lying on the table naked / exposed as  he dives in with precision / cuts into the decisions I make laid out on the table / dissecting me in parts / judging and measuring and weighing and labelling / I want to eat trifle and cry


After Barbara Hepworth

What happens when I look from the side?

When I can’t see the strings completely?

Does that mean the sea disappears?

00:00 / 01:47

            It is Pelagos I always go to first

            at The Hepworth. From the front, 

            the repeat, the shadows, the stitches

            transform my vulva into a perfect

            circle as you reach around my waist,

            from the side repeat, trace finger on back.

            I hear a moan from the centre (my voice)

            your cock is between my lips

            I am the opposite to hollow now

            the stitches are laced with immediacy 

            they mimic breathing 

            they rise – pause – fall

            I move to the side, hold my breath

            the sea stops moving –

            land locked, absent body. In the gallery

            we meet at cat’s cradle 

            we begin on an elm flat base 

            lick salt off plate, off body 

            into the space, fold shouldered waves into me

            sea wall curves over arms –

            wrap around, repeat 

            I look at Pelagos from the side 

            I think of myself 

            open mouthed

            an empty estuary

            the size of an unspecified sea,

            downy breathing 

            I’m almost complete in this part.

            I am Pelagos. From the side 

            from the side, make my strings dissipate.

Publishing credits

All poems: Plastic Tubed Little Bird (Broken Sleep Books)


S h a r e

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