Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.


And Ouija-board flirting is tricksy, with all the ghostly glow,

some epic ectoplasmic pauses and the fact that, despite

your higher-plane abilities, your spelling isn’t strong.

(No glass-slide autocorrect.) You get my name wrong–twice–

but then come through again, invite me to a show


where the music is as dead as—well, you know. Sounds nice,

I say, even though it doesn’t, but I’m lonely and living guys

aren’t enlivening me, so sick of regular-rhythmed approaches

and the same songs I’ve heard for years, all oxygen, compromise,

propagation. It’s like I’m stuck in some play I’ve studied to death,


so we meet. I’m late, of course. Breathlessly relieved–you’re less transparent

than I’d feared (such a fool for opacity) and I’m totally intrigued, but my cheek

you kiss with nothing and don’t bring up the other side. Feels a touch invasive

to ask, so instead I tell you about my father, flowers, my funny-nunnery tales,

and I think you’re listening but can’t be sure, what with all the fading


and forgetting of lines. We meet for dinner but I feel it’s rude to eat,

go hiking but cats and cocks attack us. When the ground refuses your feet,

we crack up then admit things are getting pretty weird. I want to keep

trying, so invite you to a party (though your personality is too ephemeral

for dancing) and try to steal another nothing-kiss – tis here, tis here, tis gone,


and in the morning there are more worms in my second-best bed

than in my garden. I pretend they’re sweet, give them cute names

before sweeping them into the bin. There are creatures in my heart, too,

I soliloquise, so proud of being mature. I’m so over fake-perfection games.

But the nothing-touch I’d craved had marked my skin with clotted beats,


and then your teeth fell out, and it’s a rotten mess. Such a grave relief

to say goodbye, to burn those cut-up letters and put the tumbler aside.

Best to go no-contact, like the dating sites and exorcists advise.

That way, I can quit all the craziness, the non-stop listening for that slide

of glass. Stop the digging and—well, you know. Get on with my life.

Annabel Banks ( is an English writer of poetry and prose, some published, some prize-winning. She lectures in English and Creative Writing for Falmouth University where she is writing up her practice-based poetry PhD, ‘Poetry and the Archive’. Most recent work can be found in Lockjaw, Jungftak and Inky Needles.


Categories: Poetry

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